EASTERN ILLINOIS – On Thursday, August 30th, Champaign Mayor Deb Feinen, Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin, Paris Mayor Craig Smith, Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold will be trying to eat on less than $5 and urging others to do the same. Their efforts promote the SNAP Hunger Challenge, a week in September during which the Eastern Illinois Foodbank and other Illinois foodbanks are encouraging the public to spend no more than $4.47 a day on food, the average SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) benefit for an individual in the state. This year’s SNAP Hunger Challenge will take place September 9-15.
The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness of the barriers to accessing high-quality, nutritious food on a SNAP budget, and to mobilize support for public and private hunger relief programs. According to Jim Hires, CEO of the Eastern Illinois Foodbank SNAP is the cornerstone of the nation’s fight against food insecurity. ”Providing 41 million low – income participants with needed groceries each month. Nearly 1.9 million of those live in Illinois. And 842,000 of those are children. Foodbanks across the country support a strong and healthy SNAP program. It is one government program that truly makes a difference daily.”
Participants in the SNAP Hunger Challenge will be posting photos, videos and reflections about their experiences on social media. In addition to Feinen, Marlin, Smith and Ingold, several individuals from eastern Illinois communities are already signed up to take the challenge for anywhere from one day to a full week. Mayor Smith has planned his menu for the day, which includes canned vegetables and beans and a pouch of tuna. “Normally I shop in the fresh produce aisle, but for this challenge I will have to go with processed food.” He noted how difficult it is to eat a balanced, healthy diet on such a limited budget and added, “This challenge is something everybody in this country should try to do, so you can put yourself in somebody else’s shoes. It’s not easy, but it’s good for all of us.”
Locally, the Eastern Illinois Foodbank serves 58,000 individuals per month through 167 partner agencies across 18 counties in Illinois. The SNAP Hunger Challenge is part of several activities hosted by the Eastern Illinois Foodbank during Hunger Action Month. More information on Hunger Action Month activities is available on the Foodbank’s website: www.eifoodbank.org.