Montgomery County leaders and residents today began a week of living on a $5-a-day food budget to draw attention to the daily struggle of 65,000 county residents who get assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps.
Almost 27,000 county households were on SNAP assistance in fiscal year 2012, a 138 percent increase from fiscal year 2007, according to the county’s Department of Health and Human Services. Families that qualify for SNAP get an average daily benefit per person of $4.28, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Program.
So Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring) and a number of her colleagues, MCPS officials, nonprofit workers and residents went grocery store shopping this morning for $25 worth of food to last them the whole week.
The SNAP the Silence Challenge is meant to focus efforts on improving options for the county’s neediest who eat on only $5 per day.
“We all know how expensive it is to live in Montgomery County,” Ervin said in a press release. Ervin and others, including Somerset mayor and philanthropist Jeffrey Slavin, shopped at a Rockville grocery store Monday morning before holding a press conference. “What many people may not know is how many working families struggle to put food on the table every day. The current economic crisis has forced more people than ever to ask for public assistance. This experience will give all of us a better understanding of what so many people in our nation — and many in our County — go through on a daily basis.”
The Challenge will conclude with a discussion of the issue on Friday in Silver Spring.