WBEZ | snap challenge http://www.wbez.org/tags/snap-challenge Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Natalie Moore's SNAP challenge food diary and shopping strategy for food stamps http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/natalie-moores-snap-challenge-food-diary-and-shopping-strategy-food-stamps-108661 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-09-11%20at%2011.57.04%20PM.png" style="height: 246px; width: 500px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>Monday food diary</strong></div><p>It is nearly impossible to eat three balanced meals on $5 a day.</p><p>Even though I came in just under my budget, I was hungry most of the day.</p><p>In hindsight, I should&rsquo;ve prorated food items based on consumption to buy additional products.</p><p>I combined breakfast and lunch into a day of snacking, which is what I typically do &ndash; but usually with additional food items such as hummus or soup/salad.</p><p><strong>Breakfast</strong></p><p>In the morning, I drank water, ate a plum and plain bread. Just enough sustenance to last me until noonish.</p><p><strong>Lunch</strong></p><p>Throughout the day, I snacked on my Sabritas nuts. Later, I devoured the second plum, which I had hoped to save for Tuesday consumption.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>Dinner</strong></div><p>Monica generously gave me a spoonful of sofrito for my black beans that had soaked overnight.</p><p>I sauteed the tomato-based sauce in vegetable oil with fresh garlic and then added the small chunks of pork hock, aka ham hock, from an organic pig farm.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-09-11%20at%2011.58.48%20PM.png" style="height: 232px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="" />I cooked the beans in too much water so I emptied a cup out before embellishing with sea salt and pepper.</p><p>After the beans simmered for a few hours, I broke out the olive oil and flash-fried kale with sea salt and pepper.</p><p>The beans were tender and smokey. The kale provided a bit of crunch.</p><p>I couldn&rsquo;t afford rice.</p><p><strong>Tuesday food diary</strong></p><p><strong>Breakfast</strong></p><p>I cheated.</p><p>I know, I know. I lack Monica&rsquo;s commitment. A friend bought me a cup of coffee. But I considered it an appetite suppressant.</p><p>An hour later, I ate one of the bruised knockoff peaches from the farmers market. It wasn&rsquo;t pretty to eat, but just ripe.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-09-12%20at%2012.00.27%20AM.png" style="float: right; height: 238px; width: 300px;" title="" /><strong>Lunch</strong></div><p><strong>T</strong>he aforementioned breakfast, which functioned more as a snack, was barely enough fuel for me while I was out reporting in the field.</p><p>I passed a Cuban sandwich spot and a Jewel grocery store, which has magnificent lunch deals. I kept driving.</p><p>Later, I heated up the rest of my bread with a pat of butter. I cut the mango.</p><p>Unfortunately, it was unripe, but I ate a few chewy slices anyway to go with the Sabritas. By 4 p.m. my meals felt monotonous.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Dinner</strong></p><p>Leftovers. I had cooked enough beans for an entire family.</p><p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="710" scrolling="no" src="//instagram.com/p/eJOwcSr-eu/embed/" width="612"></iframe></p><strong>Natalie&#39;s SNAP shopping list</strong></p><p>I spent $3.87 on Saturday with Monica at the farmers market after we split our items (kale, peaches, pork hock) and factored in our SNAP double value. That left me with $6.13 to spend.</p><p><strong>At Pete&rsquo;s I spent:</strong></p><p>$1.59 chile y limon Sabritas (nuts)</p><p>$1.53 black beans in bulk</p><p>$.69 two plums</p><p>$.88 one mango</p><p>$.79 two bread rolls</p><p><strong>Pete&#39;s total:</strong> $5.48</p><p><strong>Grand Total:</strong> $9.35</p><p><strong>SNAP Recap</strong></p><p>At the end of the two days, we didn&rsquo;t exactly know what it&rsquo;s like to live on food stamps. But we got a taste, and it wasn&rsquo;t very pleasant. It was time consuming, stressful and starting to get monotonous. We saw a world full of food that was beyond our reach and became more aware of how important motivation, consumer education and cooking knowledge is to creating healthy meals on a budget. We can only imagine how much harder it would&rsquo;ve been without our cars, kitchen equipment and access to great products.</p><p>The food stamp debate is a heated one with strong arguments on both sides. But most people who look at federal food consumption and health statistics tend to agree that the nation would be better off if we could all manage to regularly buy, cook and eat nutritious foods.</p><p><strong>For anyone who wants to take the SNAP challenge during September, here are the rules from the Greater Chicago Food Depository:</strong></p><ol><li dir="ltr"><p>Each person should spend a set amount for food and beverages during the Challenge week. That amount is $35/week or $5/day for all food and beverage.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>All food purchased and eaten during the Challenge week, including fast food and dining out, must be included in the total spending.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>During the Challenge, only eat food that you purchase for the project. Do not eat food that you already own (this does not include spices and condiments).</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>Avoid accepting free food from friends, family, or at work, including at receptions, briefings, or other events where food is served.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>Keep track of receipts on food spending and take note of your experiences throughout the week.</p></li><li dir="ltr">Invite others to join you, including co-workers, reporters, chefs, or other elected officials.</li></ol><p><em>Natalie Moore is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/natalieymoore" target="_blank">@natalieymoore</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 11 Sep 2013 23:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/natalie-moores-snap-challenge-food-diary-and-shopping-strategy-food-stamps-108661 Monica Eng's SNAP Challenge food stamp diary and shopping strategy http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/monica-engs-snap-challenge-food-stamp-diary-and-shopping-strategy-108660 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-09-11%20at%2010.51.50%20PM.png" style="width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p><strong>Monday food diary</strong></p><p><strong>Breakfast: </strong>Two fried eggs in sauteed kale, two tortillas, 1 tbsp sauerkraut, beans and a cup of tea.</p><p>This meal mirrors what I normally eat for breakfast, but I had to go with factory farmed chicken eggs (99 cents a dozen) because eggs from chickens who live on pasture and aren&rsquo;t fed genetically modified grain cost me $5 to $6 a carton. I also had to swap my morning coffee and cream for Aldi tea. It&rsquo;s actually pretty tasty and I kept some of the concentrated tea at the bottom of the cup to make iced tea later.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>Lunch: </strong>Rice and beans, half an avocado, sambal chili sauce.</div><p>Growing up in a half Puerto Rican family, I was blessed with a love for good rice and beans, and &ndash; more importantly &ndash; a grandmother who taught me how to cook them. The secret is a good sofrito, which you would ideally make from scratch with garlic, onion, sweet peppers and cilantro.</p><p>But a great substitute is fresh sofrito sold in area stores like Cermak Produce.</p><p>Unfortunately we had to go with a jarred version, which didn&rsquo;t give up much flavor, so I added extra garlic, salt and sambal, which is technically OK for our WBEZ SNAP challenge because they are condiments.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-09-11%20at%2010.52.11%20PM.png" style="height: 276px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="" />Another delicious, money saving trick is buying dried beans, which require overnight soaking but save you tons of money and taste better than canned. The smoky fatty pork hock gives the beans added flavor.</p><p><strong>Snack:</strong> Piece of toast smeared with peanut butter and sliced apple.</p><p>As much as I wanted a sweet from the vending machines, I turned to the office toaster instead. Now that apples are in season, they are super affordable and paired with the protein-packed peanut butter they recall the peanut-sprinkled taffy apples of my childhood.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Snack:</strong> Piece of toast smeared with peanut butter and a nino banana</p><p>These tiny bananas delight my kids, but they&rsquo;re also good for the pocketbook when, in this case, I found very ripe ones discounted at a cost of 99 cents for 18 at Pete&rsquo;s. I like to eat them on a peanut butter and banana sandwich like a hot dog.</p><p><strong>Dinner: </strong>Raw kale tossed with lentils, rice and a mustard vinaigrette (vinegar, oil, dijon mustard).</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-09-11%20at%2010.52.34%20PM.png" style="height: 212px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="" /></div><p>On a hot September night, this made for a perfect cool dinner. I cooked the lentils in garlicky, salted water until just soft and then tossed them with rice, chopped kale and a mustard vinaigrette (olive oil, vinegar and mustard). My daughter not only took seconds for dinner but asked me to pack more for her school lunch the next day. &nbsp;I wished my budget would have allowed for some chopped red pepper and scallions to brighten up the color and flavor but that wasn&rsquo;t in the budget.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-09-11%20at%2010.52.47%20PM.png" style="height: 201px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="" /></div><p><strong>Tuesday food diary</strong></p><p><strong>Breakfast:</strong> Two eggs poached in a mug, two tortillas, rice and beans, sauerkraut, half avocado and cup of tea.</p><p>When you&rsquo;ve got kids to get dressed and off to school, you realize why so many people reach for pricey convenience foods. In our rush to get my daughter to early morning sports practice and a teenager to high school, I had no time to make breakfast. So I gathered all my ingredients and brought them to work. There, I microwave-poached a couple of eggs in a mug, heated tortillas and beans and made a cup of tea. Most people probably don&rsquo;t have office kitchens as well-equipped as WBEZ&rsquo;s and so missing breakfast at home might mean unhealthy convenience foods or zippo. &nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-09-11%20at%2010.53.04%20PM.png" style="height: 183px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="" /></div><p><strong>Lunch:</strong> Bowl of lentils tossed in mustard vinaigrette, half avocado and piece of toast.</p><p>I can do lentils for another day but I can see how they might get a little monotonous after a while.</p><p>The Intelligentsia coffee in the WBEZ kitchen was beckoning me but I&rsquo;m sticking to my Aldi inexpensive tea that I turned into iced tea for this afternoon.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>Snack:</strong> Nino banana with peanut butter. &nbsp;</div><p>When I need something small, sweet, a little fatty and nutritious, this is my go to snack.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>Snack:</strong> Peach and hard boiled egg</div><p>When it comes to cheap sources of nutritious protein, eggs are one of your best bets. Once considered an unhealthy food that should be limited, more recent studies have vindicated its health profile. Plus, you <img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-09-11%20at%2010.53.29%20PM.png" style="height: 259px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Tuesday dinner" />can&rsquo;t beat the portability of a hardboiled egg. I got these peaches from the &ldquo;seconds&rdquo; box at the farmers market for 20 cents each. The pretty peaches cost $5 a quart. After they were ripened, trimmed and sliced the less attractive fruits were delicious.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>Dinner:</strong> Rice and beans with kale salad.</div><p>If my meals are starting to look a little repetitive, it&rsquo;s because they are &ndash; and that&rsquo;s how they began to taste. As much as I love rice, beans and kale, I was longing for some of the grilled chicken and watermelon that the rest of my family was feasting on at the dinner table.</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-390d9ae9-103d-0926-ba18-6a4078184af3">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="710" scrolling="no" src="//instagram.com/p/eI8gckr-TV/embed/" width="612"></iframe><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="710" scrolling="no" src="//instagram.com/p/eI3VDTL-bt/embed/" width="612"></iframe></p><p><strong>Monica&#39;s SNAP shopping list</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Total cost: $9.99</p><p><strong>Pork hock $2.37</strong></p><p>(15 oz hock cost 9.50 but we split it, then halved the price again to account for the double value given to SNAP benefits at 61st Street Farmers Market.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>6 eggs .50</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(full carton at Pete&rsquo;s cost 99 cents)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>12 oz dry beans .70</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(I bought a plastic carton for $1.53 and used a little less than half to soak and cook)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Kale bunch $1.25 &nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(we bought 2 for $5 at the market that doubled SNAP dollars)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>8 oz dry lentils .65</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>4 oz sofrito .75</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>2 peaches .20 &nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(bruised peaches cost 5 for $1 at 61st Street where SNAP gets double value)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>2 apples .69</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(price at Pete&#39;s)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>6 ninos bananas .33 &nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(bought 19 for 99 cents)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>2 tbsp peanut butter .20 &nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(container cost $2.59)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>1/3 loaf bread .83</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(whole loaf was $2.59)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>2.5 cups brown rice .35 &nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(bag cost 69 cents, I made half)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>12 tortillas .25 &nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(bought at Atotonilco Tortilleria on 47th Street)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>7 oz Greek yogurt $1</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(Fage was on sale for $1 each)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Avocado .79 &nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(Pete&rsquo;s price)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>3 tea bags .06 &nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(Aldi&rsquo;s Benner Classic Blend tea costs $1.89 for 100 bags)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>3 tbsp sauerkraut .06 &nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(I made 2 huge jars of sauerkraut with one $1 cabbage head and salt)</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-390d9ae9-1074-8a87-dda8-af76aabce10d"><strong>SNAP Recap</strong></p><p dir="ltr">At the end of the two days, we didn&rsquo;t exactly know what it&rsquo;s like to live on food stamps. But we got a taste, and it wasn&rsquo;t very pleasant. It was time consuming, stressful and starting to get monotonous. We saw a world full of food that was beyond our reach and became more aware of how important motivation, consumer education and cooking knowledge is to creating healthy meals on a budget. We can only imagine how much harder it would&rsquo;ve been without our cars, kitchen equipment and access to great products.</p><p>The food stamp debate is a heated one with strong arguments on both sides. But most people who look at federal food consumption and health statistics tend to agree that the nation would be better off if we could all manage to regularly buy, cook and eat nutritious foods.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-390d9ae9-1072-4174-4ead-8547442c692c"><strong>For anyone who wants to take the SNAP challenge during September, here are the rules from the Greater Chicago Food Depository:</strong></p><ol><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Each person should spend a set amount for food and beverages during the Challenge week. That amount is $35/week or $5/day for all food and beverage.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">All food purchased and eaten during the Challenge week, including fast food and dining out, must be included in the total spending.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">During the Challenge, only eat food that you purchase for the project. Do not eat food that you already own (this does not include spices and condiments).</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Avoid accepting free food from friends, family, or at work, including at receptions, briefings, or other events where food is served.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Keep track of receipts on food spending and take note of your experiences throughout the week.</p></li><li dir="ltr">Invite others to join you, including co-workers, reporters, chefs, or other elected officials.</li></ol><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> @monicaeng</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 11 Sep 2013 22:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/monica-engs-snap-challenge-food-stamp-diary-and-shopping-strategy-108660 Can two reporters survive on $5 of food a day? http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/can-two-reporters-survive-5-food-day-108658 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 10.16.35 PM.png" alt="" /><p><p>Every September, hunger groups ask <a href="http://lee.house.gov/press-release/full-member-list-congressional-snap-challenge">politicians</a>, community leaders and journalists to take a break in their normal diet and try to live on $5 a day, or roughly the amount allotted to users of food stamps (officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or <a href="http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap">SNAP</a>).</p><p>This year&rsquo;s &ldquo;<a href="http://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/site/PageNavigator/SNAPChallenge.html">SNAP Challenge</a>&rdquo; comes as the USDA conducts a rare review of the rules that govern the federal food assistance program. It also coincides with another push by Congress to renew the Farm Bill, which expires on Sept. 30, and ultimately determines how much money is allocated to the program. WBEZ reporter Natalie Moore and producer Monica Eng have been following these developments closely and decided to take the SNAP challenge themselves this year.</p><p>First, a few caveats: we know that taking the <a href="http://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/site/PageNavigator/SNAPChallenge.html">SNAP challenge</a>&nbsp;for two days is not the same as putting ourselves in the shoes of those who truly rely on the program. Our cooking knowledge, kitchen equipment and access to a car are not shared by all low-income Chicagoans. We also realize that surviving on $5 a day for two days is not the same as doing it for months or even years. &nbsp;And finally, we know that $5 is not a perfect figure for comparison as SNAP funds, in most cases, are supplemented with other income.</p><p>That said, in the course of a few days we learned a lot about the difficulty of translating these meager funds into healthy, fulfilling meals. We figured out how much extra time and planning this can take, and how many of the daily foods and treats we take for granted suddenly become unavailable when your budget is cut back so severely.</p><p><strong>Our SNAP Game Plan</strong></p><p>We began preparing for the challenge last Saturday at the <a href="http://experimentalstation.org/farmers-market">61st Street Farmers Market</a> in Woodlawn, where we interviewed real SNAP participants on how they use their money. We chose this particular farmers market to enjoy the &ldquo;theoretical&rdquo; benefit of double value for all SNAP purchases up to $25. This is the only market in the city that doubles benefits up to $25 and it was a huge help in making our dollars go further. Shopping with a friend allowed us to split items, for example buying two bunches of kale for $5, instead of $3 a bunch.</p><p>We continued our shopping at <a href="http://www.petesfresh.com/">Pete&rsquo;s Fresh Market</a> in Brighton Park and the <a href="http://www.tortilleriaatotonilco.com/">Atotonilco Tortilleria</a> and <a href="http://www.supermercadoselguero.com/en/">El Guero supermercado</a> in Back of the Yards. These stores offer a greater selection and, in some cases, better deals than many of the substandard convenience stores, liquor stores and gas stations that pepper many of Chicago&rsquo;s low-income neighborhoods (we hope to address the challenge of using SNAP at those stores down the road). &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>In total, it took us a whopping four hours to shop and plan our meals &ndash; and stay on budget. Next, we had to prepare our meals and then, of course, eat them!</p><p>Click on the following links to see our individual grocery lists and food diaries for Monday and Tuesday of this week (Sept. 9-10).</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/monica-engs-snap-challenge-food-diary-and-shopping-strategy-food-stamps-108660" target="_blank">Monica Eng&#39;s SNAP food diary</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/natalie-moores-snap-challenge-food-diary-and-shopping-strategy-food-stamps-108661" target="_blank">Natalie Moore&#39;s SNAP food diary</a></p><p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="710" scrolling="no" src="//instagram.com/p/eI8gckr-TV/embed/" width="612"></iframe><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="710" scrolling="no" src="//instagram.com/p/eI3VDTL-bt/embed/" width="612"></iframe><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="710" scrolling="no" src="//instagram.com/p/eJOwcSr-eu/embed/" width="612"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 11 Sep 2013 22:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/can-two-reporters-survive-5-food-day-108658