Eating Healthy on a Budget: The SNAP Experience

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SPARKS, Nev. -- Shopping healthy can be difficult but when you have a small budget to work with, it's even harder. As part of Hunger Awareness Month, the Food Bank of Northern Nevada is sponsoring the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a five-day experience to eat as healthy as possible on a budget.

During that week, participants have to live off of $4.06 a day. KOLO 8 News Now's Catherine Van took part in the challenge.

More than 300,000 Nevadans have only $20.30 on a five-day period.

The goal of the SNAP Experience is to create a better understanding of the struggles many households go through every month, trying to make ends meet.

After paying for rent, utilities, transportation and childcare, little room is left to buy nutritious food.

SNAP assists with a person's food budget so they can make healthier shopping choices.

Based on income and other assets, the average food stamp allotment for a single person is $4.06 a day or $122 Dolores per month.

The larger the household size, the larger the monthly benefit. The four-person household has an average monthly benefit of $407 or $3.39 per day.

The average income of a SNAP beneficiary is less than $1,800 a month.

At the end of the shopping trip, Catherine made it under her budget with $19.87 after shopping at Win-Co Foods. She was able to get chicken and eggs for protein; pasta, rice and bread for carbohydrates; apples, carrots and lettuce for fruits and vegetables.

Catherine faced a few challenges both at home and at work.

"The sandwich is going to be pretty plain because I forgot to buy condiments but this will have to do," she said.

To get a realistic experience, she had to make sure she bought food with nutritional value and was not able to accept free food.

"All day, I was tempted at work. Jennifer brought in donuts and brownies and muffins and I couldn't have any of it," she said.

The meals were bland, but the task was doable. Each morning she had two scrambled eggs, an apple and a glass of tap water. The leftover food, like pasta or rice, from dinner served as lunch the next day.

She says her eyes are bigger than her stomach most of the time when she goes grocery shopping, but after this experience, she has learned not to take her health and budget for granted.