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Food Stamped

Posted by Elana Fox  

01:51 PM Aug 25, 2011

Forty-five million low-income people in America use the Supplemental Food Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps) to provide food for themselves and their families. More than half of SNAP recipients are children and 8% are people over the age of 60. The average food stamp benefit is FY2010 was $133/month. This breaks down a per person benefit of $31.50/week, $4.50/day, and $1.50/meal.

But what does all of this really mean?

In the documentary Food Stamped, nutritionist Shira Potash and her documentary filmmaker husband Yoav attempt to maintain their healthy lifestyle while feeding themselves on only approximately $4.50/day.

At the beginning of the film Shira and Yoav pose the question “What do you do when the food that is cheap and affordable is also causing the obesity epidemic?”  In recent years, the cost of junk food has decreased by 2%, while the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables has increased 20%.  Further, many poor neighborhoods have few large grocery stores or other places to purchase fresh produce. Those living on food stamps find themselves with few healthy options. It is no wonder that poverty and obesity go hand-in-hand.

The filmmakers set up four rules to follow:

     Eat protein, whole grains, fruits/vegetables at every meal.
     Buy organic as much as possible.
     Eat as few processed meals as possible.
     At the end of the experiment, submit recipes to a nutritionist to determine the nutritional value of the meals they consumed.

Throughout the film Shira and Yoav interview various people involved in anti-hunger organizations, school feeding and education programs, food stamp case workers, the director of the Oakland, CA food bank, Members of Congress who have taken the food stamp challenge, and first time SNAP applicants—including a woman with a Master’s degree and a man who was recently laid off after 25 years as a hotel chauffer.

The theme of the film is very similar to the one-week long Food Stamp Challenge the JCPA, along with our partners at Catholic Charities, the National Council of Churches and other national faith organizations, is co-sponsoring October 27-November 3rd as part of this year’s Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization.

We encourage communities to host a screening of Food Stamped (preferable from October 27th-November 6th) and sponsor a panel discussion afterward. If you plan to screen the film during Fighting Poverty with Faith you can purchase a reduced price copy (with the rights to screen it publicly)  for $150. Please register your event on the Fighting Poverty with Faith website. When the registration is successfully complete, you will be directed to a website with directions for purchasing the film at the reduced rate. If you have any questions (or concerns about the cost) please contact Elana Fox.

The film, coupled with your community taking their own Food Stamp Challenge, is an excellent way to begin to understand what living in hunger is like in the United States and how difficult it is to survive, especially in a healthy manner, on only $4.50/day.

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