Open Arms of Minnesota

KEVIN: SNAP Challenge Day Six

I didn’t need to take the SNAP Challenge to realize that my gender and race afford me a certain amount of privilege. I’ve been aware of the benefits and opportunities that come with being male and white for a very long time. I was also aware of the added privilege that comes from having an education and a well-paying job. All of this allows me to take one week out of my life and feed myself for $27.65. And then, at the end of the week, to go back to shopping at expensive grocery stores and eating at fine restaurants

I embarked on this week-long challenge in hopes of drawing attention to the issues of hunger and food insecurity in Minnesota. It worked. I haven’t engaged in a single conversation in over a week that didn’t include a discussion about this challenge. I’ve had colleagues call me, old friends Face Book me and strangers send me e-mails. I’ve been interviewed on local radio and television stations. Today, I was speaking at an area college and met a young man who is a recipient of food stamps. He thanked me for doing the SNAP Challenge.

This young man, Freddie, is one of the 440,000 Minnesotans who received food stamps in October. He knows what it is like to live on food stamps for months – not just for one week as part of a consciousness-raising experiment. When I asked Freddie why he would thank me for doing what he lives, he said it was because he needs to live on food stamps but I chose to do this for one week.

Freddie is a real spokesperson for food insecurity in Minnesota, but no one has been talking to him about his experiences on food stamps this past week. I doubt people have been offering Freddie food or sending him encouraging messages. I’m happy to use whatever privilege I have to bring attention to this issue, but the people we really need to be listening to are those like Freddie, and the hundreds of thousands of other Minnesotans on SNAP who, unlike me, won’t wake up on Thanksgiving morning and never again have to think about living on only $3.95 a day.

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