Can you live on $4 a day? Take the SNAP Challenge.

In Connecticut, the average person receiving SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits receives $134.82 per month. That works out to about $4.50 per day to spend on food. To receive SNAP benefits, an individual’s gross monthly income may not exceed $1,832. That’s a yearly income of $21,984. The average monthly rent for an apartment in Connecticut is $1,099.

SNAP benefits are a vital lifeline for people who are unemployed or under-employed. The idea that these benefits are “supplemental” may not be valid, given rent, utility, transportation,

health care and other household costs a person living on low income may have to meet each month. And SNAP benefits will not pay for vitamins; prepared or hot foods even if they are purchased in a

grocery store; or nonfood items like soap, shampoo, diapers or other household and personal care items that are typically purchased by grocery shoppers.

We can’t fully experience what it is like for someone struggling to make ends meet, but we can get an idea of it by taking the SNAP Challenge and living on the $4 daily food budget an individual in Connecticut has at their disposal.

Here’s how the SNAP Challenge works:
  • Each person taking the challenge has up to $4.50 per day ($31.50 for a seven-day week), which is the average benefit for a SNAP recipient in Connecticut. All food purchased and eaten during the Challenge week, including dining out, must be included in your total spending.
  • Register your participation on our website: Let us know that you are signing on for a one-week or one-day challenge and share your zip code so we know how many communities are participating.
  • During the SNAP Challenge, eat only the food that you purchase for the Challenge. If you eat food that is already in your home or that is given to you by friends, family or people at your workplace, account for it in your SNAP budget.
  • Keep track of receipts on food spending and also keep notes on your experiences throughout the week.160318-FA-GA-366
    • What food choices did you make?
    • Did you take in more or fewer calories than usual?
    • How about salt, sugar and carbohydrate intake?
    • How different were your meal sizes from usual?
    • Did you eat the same number of meals each day that you usually eat?
  • Share your experience and invite others to join you – family, friends, co-workers. You can share your experiences on your social media accounts. Use the #SNAPChallenge hashtag and @CTFoodBank so we can keep up with you. A Connecticut Food Bank volunteer took the SNAP Challenge and shared her experiences on You Tube. See and hear what she had to say:

Extra credit:

Shopping for the week or hitting your local discount warehouse will stretch your food budget. But that’s not an option for many SNAP recipients. They might not have a car or live within reasonable distance to a large supermarket or a discount store. Much of their food comes from corner stores, convenience stores or bodegas. Try shopping for your needs at a local convenience store or gas station mini-mart each day or every other day to get closer to that experience.131111-FA-Spokane-1572

Meals from friends and family are a great source of free food. But chances are that your friends and family are in similar circumstances and may not have extra food to share.

For more information on SNAP benefits visit the Feeding America website. This report from the State of Connecticut Office of Legislative Research offers a summary of how the program works in Connecticut.