SNAP Challenge: The Midway Point

Hunger Action Month

EDITOR’S NOTE: This SNAP Challenge employee blog series is intended to raise hunger awareness and highlight the Houston Food Bank’s recent strides in sustainability. Recently, the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club® donated $100,000 to the Food Bank to build a solar array on the roof – a renewable energy installation that will help the Food Bank save about as much as the cost of 23,000 meals a year on its energy bill.

I’ve gone on calorie-cutting diets before, so using willpower to eat less is not foreign to me. So far, the SNAP Challenge has not been unlike that experience. It comes with the same urge to eat dinner the second I get home from work and a consequent early bedtime to avoid a growling stomach as it gets later. But the SNAP Challenge doesn’t afford me the same tricks I realize I have used when I’ve tried in the past to eat less – like a quick $4 skim cappuccino that functions as a treat and takes my mind off eating. This week, that $4 is my whole daily food budget.

Even with the relatively high-density meals I’ve planned out, I’m still getting hungry.

Luckily, today (Wednesday), I remembered my banana. Yesterday, at approximately 1:46pm, I realized I had forgotten to bring to work the banana I was planning to eat for a snack a couple hours after my rice-and-beans lunch. I started thinking about Snickers in the vending machine…or even just a granola bar. I have only $1.39 to get me through the end of the week, though, so I decided it was probably not a good idea to spend it on Tuesday.

The fact is, food is emotional. We socialize around it, we reward ourselves with it, we comfort ourselves with it, and we celebrate it. When there’s not enough of it, we notice, and it takes an emotional toll as well as a physical one. Sure, it’s possible to survive on $4/day, and if I did it every week I’d probably learn to be better at it – I’d cut coupons, I’d figure out how to get more variety. But I don’t imagine food would continue to bring me the joy it does most days.

Tonight, I’m meeting some girlfriends for a movie after work. I remembered to pack dinner (more rice and beans) as well as lunch (tuna salad sandwich) and bring both with me to work, so I don’t head to the theater hungry. Six dollar movie popcorn is never a great investment, and it’s certainly not in the budget this week. I am getting used to spending a little more time and being more prepared – which I’m fortunate to have the bandwidth for.

Speaking of being prepared: Have any suggestions for how I should spend my $1.39 on an edible reward at the end of the week?

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