The following was written by the Vermont Foodbank’s Americorps VISTA Rachel Floyd about her experiences doing the SNAP challenge, also know as the 3SquaresVT Challenge. Click the Soundcloud link below to hear Rachel’s story straight from her. Interested in trying it out yourself? Click here to learn more.


Rachel Floyd

“I decided to participate in a SNAP Challenge after some real consideration. As a VISTA at the Vermont Foodbank, I spend most of my time helping individuals and families apply for SNAP,

[the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance which provides food assistance to individuals and families who fall below certain income requirements]. I myself use SNAP to pay for some groceries, and I have for a few years. I’ve read the criticisms of the SNAP challenge, and I agree with many of them. When a person chooses to eat with only $4 and change to feed themselves for the day, it doesn’t mean that they also deal with the additional challenges faced by folks who live in poverty.

Poverty is a complicated socio-economic issue and I can’t even pretend to be an expert on it. I know about negative health outcomes for folks who live in poverty compared to those who don’t. I know that people who live in poverty have shorter life expectancies than those who don’t. I know that children who grow up in poverty, even temporarily, will have fewer opportunities for success in almost any measurement, compared to their more affluent peers. Food insecurity is inextricably linked to poverty. When folks don’t have enough good food, stress, illness, and missed work and school increases. Food insecurity is both a cause and a symptom of poverty. It is not representative of the whole picture though, and that is where many SNAP challenges fall short.

I chose to participate in the SNAP challenge for 5 days and post about it on social media. My hope was to increase awareness of SNAP as a whole, but also to share my own narrative utilizing the program. To do this, I modified the rules. Instead of using the average benefit of a SNAP recipient, I used my actual benefit of $6.46 per day. I was challenged staying within my budget while trying to eat balanced meals. For three days, I posted candidly on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It wasn’t until day 3 that I got a negative remark on a post, an old classmate who asked why I wasn’t more grateful for the “free food.” Rather than respond with words, I decided to make this audio project to highlight other people’s experiences using SNAP.

Some background: a couple of students from the University of Vermont had recently finished a study on the efficacy of our SNAP outreach. Among the other data that they collected, they were able to gather quotes from real Vermonters who had applied for SNAP with help from the Vermont Foodbank. I took a few of the quotes and compiled them, then asked a few of my coworkers to read them while I recorded their voices. Some were messages of how SNAP has impacted their food choices for the better; others spoke to the psychological effects of not worrying about affording food all the time. All spoke to the significance that SNAP has had on them personally. This is the end result.”