Twenty-three days into the Food Challenge and I come to an interesting but not surprising understanding that I am not a good candidate to test the $4.50 per day food allowance. My reasoning behind this statement is that I have only controlled one factor in a far more complex equation identifying hunger.
When I began this challenge, I believed it would be highly unlikely that I could eat sufficiently on $4.50 per day. That amount was calculated based on being single, and making 1000 per month with a 500 rent. In that scenario I am eligible for approximately 147.00 per month in SNAP (Food Stamps) assistance.
What I discovered is that $4.50 per day is sufficient if I think about how I spend money and eat “sensible” food. However, I did not make any changes to my lifestyle other than food allowance. I did not move out of my house. I did not give up driving. I did not give up my job. I did not give up socializing or family events.
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs (Physiologic, Safety, Love/Belonging, Esteem, and Self-actualization) I only “sacrificed” one small piece of the physiologic level (food). So in general my life was unchanged. I cannot say that I experienced true hunger. My biggest sacrifice was not eating out.
I do not believe that most people on SNAP assistance have the same circumstances as me. Many more of the factors in each level of their hierarchy are likely challenged. Someone eligible for the maximum food assistance may not have a place to prepare and store the food. Those conditions would lead to different food purchasing decisions.
A person living in an environment that in unclean and unsafe may also likely make other food purchasing decisions.
The level of hunger increases as more factors within the physiologic level are challenged as well as other levels of the hierarchy.
Figuring out what the changes would be and see how far money would go based on those circumstances might be an interesting study. I am pretty sure the formula used to establish SNAP assistance amounts does not factor analysis of Maslow’s hierarchy.