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Andrea’s Eat Local Food Stamp Challenge: Day 0

(Photo courtesy of Andrea Dean)

(EDITOR’S NOTE: North Kohala resident Andrea Dean calls herself a SocioEcoPreneur who partners with communities, businesses and non-profits on initiatives that enhance the island environment, economy and community. She is involved with the North Kohala Eat Locally Grown Campaign and has challenged herself to eat only local foods on a food stamp budget for the month of September 2011.)

Wednesday marked Day 0 (the day before I start!) in my 30 day Eat Local SNAP Challenge. For those of you who don’t know what SNAP is and are envisioning me snapping my fingers and rhythmically eating local foods… SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and was formerly called Food Stamps.

Instead of using paper food stamps, recipients now use EBT cards that look like debit or credit cards. (More later in the month on how this impacted farmers markets).

Thursday (Sept. 1), I visited the local state Department of Health and Human Services to learn how much my SNAP food budget would be if I was a food stamp recipient. Well, I was kind of shocked to discover I have had many years recently in which I probably could have qualified for SNAP.

The life of a local foods advocate is not that lucrative – although it is abundant with food!

The maximum allotment under the TFP (Thrift Food Plan) is $314/month for a one-person family. I could actually be making $24,936 gross per year ($2,078/ month) and still qualify for this amount of monthly SNAP benefits.

I would get max $314 for food only if other deductions (there is a formula that takes shelter and other necessary expenses into account) brought my monthly income to zero.

For the sake of this experiment, my advisor at DHHS suggested that I use the $314/month figure.

What are my parameters?

1) My food budget for September is limited to $314.

2) I can only shop at places that take EBT. SNAP recipients are on a tight budget and would not spend cash that could be used on other necessities on food. They would shop at places where they can use their SNAP benefits.

3) My diet will be primarily locally grown foods from within the State of Hawaii. I am not going to be strict about small items – condiments and oils. You can read about my 60 Eat Local Challenge from last year which outlined my many adventures in seeking out salt and oil!

Any questions? Am I missing anything?

I am sorry to say that I did have a bit of a food hoarding mentality Thursday. I was invited to a dinner and volunteered to bring the ice cream.

I don’t usually eat ice cream, but felt compelled to buy three pints and shamefully stuffed myself with all three flavors.

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One Response to “Andrea’s Eat Local Food Stamp Challenge: Day 0”

  1. DG says:

    According to the USDA FNS SNAP pre-screening eligibility tool, you will not be eligible for SNAP with a montly income of 2,078 in the state oh Hawaii. In most states you would only be eligible for the maximum amount of SNAP benefits if you have NO income at all. For each increase in income, they will decrease your benefits. Most SNAP challenges go off of the average benefit, which is 1$ per meal or 3$ a day. Good lukc with the challenge.


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