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COLUMBUS — Three meals a day at $1.50 apiece — that’s what Columbus residents participating in the Food Stamp Challenge will be living on next week.
From Saturday through June 8, participants will learn whether it’s possible to eat healthy on an average food stamp budget by surviving on a weekly allotment of $32.91 per person.
The possibility was explored in the 2010 documentary “Food Stamped.” Several members of Congress have taken the challenge as well, and now, Columbus Cooperative Grocery and Market and Eastside Community Center have paired up to make it local.
“We wanted to do this challenge in Columbus and give our residents an opportunity to go through what members of our community go through each week,” said SaraBeth Drybread, community outreach coordinator for the grocery cooperative.
Drybread already has formed a game plan for next week.
She plans to eat three meals a day throughout the course of the challenge, relying on rice-based dishes and basic salads with homemade dressing to get her through the week.
Coffee and cheese, she noted, are expensive.
“It’s interesting to see what you will skip,” Drybread said.
Eastside has been offering weekly classes to educate challenge participants about nutrition and equip them with strategies to stretch dollars while choosing healthy foods.
Strategies include using an “envelope system” to track spending and choosing one nutritious food around which to plan a meal, Eastside executive director Priscilla Scalf said.
Those on food stamps “tend to buy things that are high in fat, high in carbohydrates and high in sugar because they feel like it’s too expensive to buy healthy,” Scalf said.
Scalf said it is possible to eat healthy on a small budget, but it takes a lot of planning.
“I think there are some misconceptions that people on food stamps get enough,” Scalf said. “It’s a misconception that we hope people will see just how difficult it is.”
To sign up for the Food Stamp Challenge or a remaining class, call Eastside Community Center at 376-7840.
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