Students at the College of Charleston participated in the Food Stamp Challenge, a national effort to raise awareness of millions of low-income Americans that live on food stamps. Students documented their efforts to shop for food with only $4.40 per day, the equivalent of a South Carolina food stamp.
“I am lucky enough to have never truly been hungry enough that I didn’t know where my next meal would come from,” Leni said. “I want to gain perspective by living with less, so I can experience a taste of the emotions, frustrations, assumptions that the hungry have to encounter every day.”
The Food Stamp Challenge was part of the College’s participation in Hunger and Homelessness Awareness, led by the Center for Civic Engagement.
Five students participated and blogged about their experience in the challenge.
Students could only use $4.40 per day for one week to eat, including food shopping and dining out.
At first students brainstormed ideas to stretch their money through the week.
“So today I had this brilliant idea,” Abby said, “ of keeping with my values of reduce-reuse-recycle, going to the Bagel Shop and buying their day-old bagels.”
By day three students began to feel the repercussions of limited food.
“Amidst the chaos of life, work, and school, feeling hungry and broke makes concentrating or being positive difficult,” Mollie said.
“I would say I am at a better place than yesterday,” Leni said. “It’s as if my stomach is getting used to the feeling of hunger.”
By the end of the week, the students were able to think critically about the impact of hunger and homelessness.
“The point is exposure, and openness to questioning. College students are able to block out signs of hunger and homelessness because they can simply turn away,” Abby said.
The Center for Civic Engagement is hoping to make this a Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week tradition at the College, expanding efforts and visibility next year.