Open Arms of Minnesota

SNAP Challenge: Thinking about Nourishing Food

By Ben Penner

Today is Day 5 of the SNAP Challenge. As Open Farms Director at Open Arms of Minnesota I grow organic vegetables for the Open Arms Kitchen. Along with many of my co-workers and friends at Open Arms we’re taking part in this year’s SNAP Challenge. As part of the challenge my wife and I are both eating on $30.25 apiece for the week leading up to Thanksgiving Day. We’re both following a meal plan (with a few modifications) constructed by the Gwen Hill, Open Arms’ Dietician.

The first few days were the hardest as I got used to rationing everything. Truth be told I don’t think I would get along on $30.25 for very long or very well. But a funny thing happened along the way. I am not that hungry on this menu though as a farmer I can’t help but notice that the fresh vegetables consist mainly of a carrot and an orange here and there. I suspect that I’m not hungry because I substituted the chicken on the menu with a 20 lb. turkey at the local grocery store that went for about $12. That’s a whole lot of meat. Though I’m already getting tired of turkeysandwiches and turkey everything at nearly every meal I think I’ll actually make it.
The point of the challenge, however isn’t only to see how creative you can get about your shopping dollars and then brag about it. I’ve noticed something happening to me during the challenge. Though I grew up for a time on Food Stamps and free and reduced lunches at school, I recently haven’t thought much about my own ability to pay for good food. But for many too many people eating good food consistently is anything but normal. Now I realize – again – that the struggle to access and pay for good, nourishing food week in and week out is often the reality of life. At Open Arms and at Open Farms we’re joining the conversation about Food Justice this Thanksgiving week and every week. I hope you’ll join us.

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