Sunday, October 13, 2013

SNAP Cuts (Part 1): A CEO Takes the SNAP Challenge

I thought I knew a thing or two about hunger. I've met thousands of people who struggle to feed themselves and their families, visited dozens of soup kitchens, food pantries, homeless shelters and food banks, and worked closely with nonprofit organizations in trying to find new ways to end hunger. I really thought I understood the scope of the problem.  But let me tell you something -- I had no clue. My SNAP Challenge last week taught me that merely observing someone else's plight does not hold a candle to consciously altering your habits to better understand what it might be like to live someone else's life.  -Ron Shaich, founder and CEO of Panera Bread
Like dozens of members of Congress and countless other anti-hunger advocates, Ron Saich took the SNAP challenge, living on a food and beverage diet of $4.50 per day. I doubt many CEOs and captains of industry have set aside seven days to attempt to live on the average benefits of those who participate in the food stamp program. For Mr. Shaich, the decision to take the challenge was not as difficult; he was already an advocate of efforts to reduce hunger in our country. The great piece he wrote for CNN about his experience.

Better yet, you can hear from him directly in this video on The Huffington Post.

While the SNAP challenge is about saving vital funding for the food stamp program, the overriding message is that hunger and poverty exist in our country and should not be ignored. As Mr. Saich points out, "the debate we often hear in Washington leads to thinking that the issue can be seen in black or white, right or wrong, good or bad."  

By now, most of us have watched the documentary A Place at the Table  and have seen the reality of how hunger and poverty affects many families in our country. The movie not only exposes the problem, but also suggests that we can find a solution to hunger, malnutrition and poverty if we decide as a country that this should be a priority. "Watching the movie is a good start for people who want to see beyond political talking points about hunger, particularly in how it traces the near-elimination of hunger in America in the 1970s, as well as the increasing societal costs of dealing with food insecurity," Jason Dick wrote in the blog  Roll Call After Dark , which is published by Roll Call, a newspaper that follows the daily decisions of Congress.

Next: A Perspective from two House Members Who Opposed Cuts

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