SNAP Challenge participants are finding out. In Ottawa County, there are 26,966 residents who live in poverty. Each person faces the challenge associated with feeding their families and hunger. At times, people may have to choose between paying their electric bill, rent or buying groceries. Ottawa County Food Policy Council members are participating this week in the SNAP Challenge. The council wanted to experience hunger first-hand and raise awareness about how difficult it can be to eat on just $4.15 per day. Participants have committed to eating all of their meals from a limited food budget comparable to that of a person receiving SNAP. “The SNAP Challenge offers a great opportunity to reflect on ways to make your dollars stretch. Coupon clipping, cooking from scratch, making and sticking to a meal plan or supplementing groceries with home-grown produce are creative ways to make it possible to eat each day with so little,” said Elianna Bootzin, Executive Administrative Assistant with Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank. “Monday, I started the SNAP Challenge for the entire week. Grocery shopping was stressful, trying to plan realistic and affordable meals that were also nutritious. As I walked the aisles of the grocery stores, I felt deprived. Everything suddenly looked so good. My cart had many less fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods than usual. I was tempted to eat more today, but feared that I’d run out of food mid-week,” said health educator Lisa Uganski, RD, with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly food stamps, provides monthly benefits to supplement the food budgets of families in need, but in many cases these households still struggle to put food on the table. The average SNAP household has about 2 people, with a gross monthly income of $744 and countable assets of just $331. While it is impossible to fully comprehend the difficult decisions low-income families face, we invite you to share in the discussions about issues of hunger in America.