[Editor’s Note: Shriver Center Director of Economic Justice Dan Lesser is taking the SNAP challenge this week and blogging about his experiences.]
In the morning, a friend at the office announced that we were out of coffee. I had not been counting the office coffee I drink. I don’t know what it costs, it can’t be too much. My friend tells me he’s going to Starbucks, and I tell him I really need some coffee. He knows I’m taking the SNAP challenge, so he offers to buy me a cup. Since I basically panhandled him for the coffee, do I have to count it?
At lunchtime, I realize that I left my lunch on the kitchen counter at home again. I normally bring my lunch to work, so this is not something new I am doing for the SNAP challenge. As my friends can attest, I’m just forgetful.
That’s one of the biggest differences between people who are on and are not on SNAP. The consequences of making a mistake, like forgetting your lunch, if you’re on SNAP are pretty severe–you might not eat that day. For the rest of us, when we forget our lunch, it’s hardly noticeable; we just go and get takeout.
On my wife’s advice, I go to a nearby drugstore and get a package of ramen noodles, the cheapest way to fill up. I’m going to Wrigley Field this afternoon with an old friend who’s visiting from New York, but no way can I afford ballpark food.
At the ballpark, my friend offers to get me a hot dog, but I tell him I just ate. He looks at me funny—why would somebody eat just before they go to a baseball game and miss out on ballpark food? Later, he texts me from the concession stand and asks if I like peanuts. “No,” I lie. Then, he again offers me a hot dog.
After the game, my friend and I are meeting some other friends for dinner. Again, I spend somewhere close to a full week’s SNAP allotment on a restaurant meal (paying for a portion of my friend’s dinner too). Ignoring the SNAP challenge rules, I don’t count it. But what would I do if were really on SNAP and I had an old friend visiting from New York? I have no idea.
Pretty uneventful. It’s a Saturday, which makes it easier in that you don’t have to worry about forgetting to bring your lunch. On the other hand, there are plenty of temptations in the pantry.
That night, my wife and I watch a movie with our new puppy. A perfect time for popcorn. Can’t do it.