Existing on a $30-a-Week Budget

10/17/2012, 1 a.m.

"SNAP is making a huge difference to those who have the least, and cutting this program would be devastating for children, the working poor, and seniors," said Alexandra Ashbrook, DCHS director.

Jessica Luna, DCHS's anti-hunger program associate, said DCHS decided to host the challenge for several reasons.

"We used it as a platform to raise awareness to the cuts to SNAP in the Farm Bill that would repeal the District's Food Stamp Expansion Act of 2009, reduce access to SNAP and lower benefit levels for needy families," said Luna. "This is an opportunity to underscore to those who never worry about their next meal, a small glimpse into the daily struggle facing District SNAP residents."

Every five years, Congress reauthorizes the Farm Bill, comprehensive legislation that guides funding for most federal farm and food policies including SNAP. Both the Senate and House Agriculture Committee's versions of the bill contain cuts, including a Senate cut that reduces SNAP benefits for an estimated 500,000 households by $90 a month, and a House cut that ends benefits for a minimum of 1.8 million people.

"I am pleased the challenge is helping to bring awareness about the importance of SNAP as a defense against hunger and steps people can take to ensure SNAP is strengthened, not cut," said Ashbrook, adding that the challenge culminated in a day of action on Oct. 15. Participants visited D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton to thank her for her support and urged others to contact their congressional members to oppose these cuts.

By Day Four, Cheh hadn't slipped or cheated and still had enough food to stretch through the weekend.

"I just hope that my small role will serve as an example to others," she said.