Dr. Jillian Tullis, professor of Comm 3051 Health Communication, Film and Technology, recently created what she calls the “SNAP Challenge,” inspired after watching the documentary, “Food Inc.”
“Food Inc.” discusses corporate farming and the food system in the United States. From watching the film, she learned that the average food stamp recipient in North Carolina receives $4.15 a day or $29.05 a week per person.
“Food is important for our physical and mental well being,” said Tullis. “It’s not just necessary to live but it is also one important part of our social lives that can bring joy and happiness. We assume that poor people don’t need joy through food.”
Tullis then came up with the idea of having her students do an assignment that had them walk (or eat in this case) in the shoes of a low income family for seven days. She called it the “SNAP Challenge.”
“While doing the Snap Challenge, you eat the same thing and it’s not always nasty,” said Tullis.
The challenge required participants to eat within the allotted dollar amount that the low income family would. There were no stipulations on when and where to spend money.
You were also not allowed use any other food that you had previously other than condiments in your house. Also, you could not eat at any type of receptions such as friends/family cooking their food and inviting you over or going to eat at any event that had free food on campus.
After the week ended, students were required to write a paper that described their experience with buying food, what reactions they received from others and anything they might have learned.
Junior Iman Karnabi is a student in Tullis’s class and participated in the challenge. “Doing the SNAP challenge has definitely helped reinforce the issue of existent health disparities in the United States,” said Karnabi.
The food she was forced to buy with such a miniscule amount of money drastically limited her quality in food.
“I could only afford foods that had low nutritional value and noticed a lack of color and variety in my meals as well. This demonstrates how low-income families do not have access to fresh produce or foods that are essential in maintaining health and preventing disease,” explained Karnabi.
The class used social media websites as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to help keep track of their thoughts and experiences with the challenge. The hash tag they used was #SNAPChallenge.
Tullis’s main goal was to help bring awareness to those families and individuals who live off of very low income, and provide a new profound respect for our day-to-day privileges.