Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I Call BS------- Food Insecurities is not a SNAP

I was innocently passing by the world wide web when it blew up over this #SNAPCHALLENGE. Cory Booker is doing it and many sites are abuzz. But hold up wait a minute. In the words of the card game of my youth:

   I.... CALL..... Bullsh*!

I do applaud Jennifer Turner and the UB SNAP FOOD CHALLENGE for bringing light to this issue. I just hope one thing that is underscored is not just about living on food stamps, because that in itself can be done. I'm not saying its not hard but it can be done and done well.

The issue is: FOOD INSECURITY I have invited some of my facebook and twitter friends who often talk about healthy lifestyles to join in the challenge and give their thoughts and opinions. I hope they participate and help shift the conversation.

 A few years ago I did a study and workshop with high school students on food insecurity and really what you are talking about with the SNAP Challenge is food insecurity. Just characterizing it as Food Stamp Challenge doesn't get to the heart of the issue, albeit it makes for a catchy name. Also anyone (whether for a challenge or not) using food stamps without properly qualifying runs afoul of quite a few laws. So even Mayor Booker saying he is going on Food Stamps for a week would be against the law. When he can just say he is limiting the budget and places where he can buy food to those within the SNAP guidelines.

 Admittedly not as great a headline but more based in fact. Also we have to look at the nutrition choices that are being made. Processed foods versus whole food items, staples versus quick fixes. When you tell me you can’t possibly imagine as one person figuring out how to eat for a week on $35.00, I think back on my grandmother who fed five children on the equivalent of less at the time. The shock of going by on so little is in part due to our mentality and the thought of going without processed foods and quick fixes like Starbucks. 

I’m not belittling the issue of food insecurity and I am ecstatic that it is something being talked about on such a grand scale. Well actually I wish we were talking about food insecurity and not “food stamps” I just pray that we don’t dwell in the hype of high profile individuals claiming they are “living on food stamps” that we lose the reality of those who in fact are.

 The problem is really all of the other factors that come with food stamps - what it means for families who qualify and have such low incomes, what type of shopping options are available, access to healthcare and other quality lifestyle choices like decent playgrounds. My concern is the stigma being just about food stamps and missing so many other items. Having to choose between food and rent or food and heat is really not about food stamps its about so many other problems. We could give folks hundreds of dollars in food stamps and still not resolve anything if they can't find decent housing, decent food choices, decent childcare and jobs with living wages.

 I myself will be taking up the challenge for a family of seven. I also want to show how it can be done positively and with healthy options. Let no one feel shamed because they are living on food stamps, in the projects or other less than desirable situations. Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

 Don't just kick it....Politik it!