Friday evening I took the greyhound bus from Fredericksburg Virginia to Atlanta Georgia to visit my boyfriend. I started my journey home last night and being on this SNAP challenge has proven it’s difficulty already as well as shown me things I would never have thought of.
I will begin with Sunday during the day. My plan at the start of this challenge was and still is to buy two McChiken’s and a breakfast burrito from McDonald which totals out to about 3.50 per day. This leaves a handful of dollars left over for the week for drinks and other unaccounted things. Sunday morning I had my boyfriend drive me to the nearest McDonald’s which happened to be around 5 miles away from where he was staying. This amount of distance is nothing in a car, but I could not imagine walking this distance, especially without food in me to begin with. Of course my boyfriend was not keen on the idea of eating two of his least favorite foods and so we had to drive to Duncan donuts and I watched him eat a bacon biscuit something that smelled delicious, but at this point it was not hard to dismiss this unnecessary expenditure.
Through out the day I found myself more hungry when I thought about how I could not buy anything to eat. This makes me think that part of the issue that we, non-needing of SNAP individuals, have when we attempt this challenge is of psychological origin. As we are used to buying food when we are hungry, when we tell ourselves that we cannot buy food, even if we are not actually hungry, we find ourselves craving food. ((I’ll have to look this up and I will post any findings on this.))
Around dinner time my boyfriend decided that he wanted to go to a sit-down restaurant before I left (even though I had explicitly told him how the SNAP challenge worked). And so I found myself sitting at an Apple-bee’s table without having eaten my last Chicken sandwich because I was saving it for later when I knew I would be more hungry. Watching Justin eat a steak in front of me while I could not even order an appetizer size simple salad because it was 4.95, that was difficult and it made me realize just how limited individuals that rely on SNAP are when it comes to social gatherings. I won’t lie, the thought of getting that salad and not eating another day this week did cross my mind, multiple times.
After this it was time for me to head back to Fredericksburg. I ate my last Chicken Sandwich on the way to the bus stop and slept pretty much the whole ride on the first bus which was a direct shot to Richmond. Before I got on the bus however, the bus stop that I was at in Atlanta was in a more run down area of the city. I saw rats in person for the first time in my life, and hobos scattered the parking lot. One particular sight caught my eye that I fear if I was not doing this SNAP challenge I would have most certainly overlooked. In the parking lot there was a small family of about 2 or 3 children and a mother and another older woman. What caught me in particular was that they had a single plastic bottle of water that obviously looked used more than once and they were taking turns using this water to brush their teeth in the parking lot. Now this does not necessarily mean that this family is in need of SNAP, but it brings to attention some of the less thought of difficulties that may very well come with the need of SNAP, such as running water, appliances that work, even hygiene. This SNAP challenge is obviously not as black and white as when I first thought.
After arriving in Richmond close to around 9am, I was starving. When I went to the cafe within the bus station however, even a simple muffin would have meant that I would not have eaten another meal that day. And so I began the trek of close to a mile to get my single breakfast burrito for the morning. And this is where I am now, sitting in the closest McDonalds to the bus station, writing this blog post and trying to not look too homeless so I don’t get mugged. Unfortunately I need this sucky tiny laptop too much to give it to another less-fortunate soul.
Also… Thank goodness for free water!!!
Until next time – JBE