Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Sunday, August 19, 2018

Students live on food stamps for a week

AU’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity will live on food stamps as part of the SNAP Challenge between Nov. 11 and 15.

Users of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is responsible for giving out food stamps, are given $4.50 a day to spend on food, according to AU’s Habitat for Humanity vice president Jessica Agostinelli, a junior in the School of International Service.

SNAP benefits are given to people who fall at or below the poverty line. About 49 percent of SNAP benefits go to children 18 or younger, according to SNAP’s website. As of August 2011, 45.8 million people in the U.S. were using SNAP benefits, according to the website.

SNAP benefits can be used to buy all food items, vitamins and medicine. SNAP does not include alcohol or tobacco products, according to the SNAP website.

Agostinelli said she hopes this week will be an opportunity to draw attention to this issue.

“It really relates to issues of homelessness and poverty throughout D.C.,” Agostinelli said.

AU Democrats, The Homelessness Coalition and American Youth and Government are also participating in the challenge. All of the different groups will be tabling throughout the week to bring visibility to the cause, Agostinelli said.

The group decided to participate in the challenge after 26 members of Congress conducted a similar challenge in June after changes to the Farm Bill threatened to cut SNAP’s budget by over $20 billion in the next decade, according to an article in the Huffington Post published in June.

Habitat for Humanity has worked to encourage more participation by publicizing the challenge on Facebook and sending out email blasts.

“We would love for as many people as possible to participate,” Agostinelli said.

As far as the food they will eat, Agostinelli said she plans on eating a lot of granola bars. Sarah Washburn, a junior in the School of Public Affairs and secretary for AU’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity, said she will also keep her meals simple, eating mostly rice, beans and peanut butter sandwiches to emulate the type of meals a SNAP participant would eat. Typically the people on SNAP work multiple jobs and do not have time or energy to be creative with meals, Washburn said.

“Most people can identify with this,” Agostinelli said. “Food scarcity is an issue for the country as a whole.”

rzisser@theeagleonline.com


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