In 2013, 49.1 million Americans lived in households struggling with hunger, a stark number which includes 15.8 million children and 4.8 million seniors. Food insecurity is a daily reality for about one in seven households. So why do we only seem to talk passionately about it when a celebrity is involved?
If you paid any attention to the recent controversy surrounding Gwyneth Paltrow's $29 SNAP grocery shopping challenge, you know what I mean. When she posted a photo of the groceries she purchased with the weekly budget of a typical SNAP (food stamp) recipient, Paltrow inspired a lot of snarky editorials poking fun at the actress's cluelessness and comments naming all the ways her charmed life is not like the typical SNAP recipient's, but in the end, it was just more media coverage of a wealthy celebrity.
What are the challenges of shopping, meal planning, and cooking when your budget relies on SNAP benefits? Someone who spends a week trying it out isn't the right person to ask. Instead, I spoke with regular people with real experience with SNAP — some who receive benefits, others whose jobs involve working with recipients — to learn more about the individuals behind the statistics and the realities of feeding yourself and your family with the help of SNAP.