TERRE HAUTE —
Leftovers weren’t a problem for Troy and Sara Fears last week.
The couple joined dozens throughout the community in the United Way of the Wabash Valley’s 2nd Annual Hunger Challenge. Participants agreed to eat only what $29.27 could buy them for the week. That amount, which represents the average SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) money received per recipient in the Wabash Valley, breaks down to $4.18 per day.
“I did it by myself last year,” explained Troy, executive director of the United Way. “This is the first year Sara and I have done it together.”
The challenge is meant to illustrate the difficulties faced by individuals on government assistance. Per the rules, participants are prohibited from partaking in group or club dinners, such as those hosted by service organizations like the United Way or churches. Troy and Sara cooked Wednesday evening’s dinner in their kitchen, with a week’s worth of food piled up on the counter. The pile, they noted, seemed pretty small, even when the couple merged their purchasing power.
“Planning ahead is the hard part,” Troy said, noting that night’s dinner would be canned chicken, penne, tomato sauce and a dry piece of toast. While the meal itself sounds good, the quantity allowed by price was problematic.
“I think last year I lost about 7 pounds total, 7 or 8,” Troy said, remarking he’d already dropped 5 pounds by Wednesday. Most of that is water weight which will quickly return, he said, adding exercise has been difficult.
Sara, an avid runner, said she typically runs between 5 and 6 miles a day before work.
“I didn’t even attempt it this morning,” she said, explaining she normally eats a big breakfast of scrambled eggs, cheese, waffles, orange juice and coffee. Three more meals plus snacks are scheduled throughout the day. Without those calories though, the body slows down. “You don’t feel like doing anything extra. You go to bed earlier.”
Troy said the couple started out checking nutrition information on labels in an attempt to maintain as healthy a lifestyle as possible. But fresh fruits and vegetables weren’t in the budget, and nutrition was quickly dismissed in favor of volume. Other participants have reported fatigue as well as headaches, as caffeinated beverages aren’t being consumed in their normal quantity.
Troy said he’d never really measured his daily caloric intake, nor had he given much thought to the daily cost of food. Whatever it was before, it seemed significantly more than what came with $4.18 per day, he said, adding he’d cleaned his plate each day that week.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or email@example.com.
TERRE HAUTE —
Leftovers weren’t a problem for Troy and Sara Fears last week.
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