Ervin to End Food Stamp Challenge Friday in Silver Spring

Participants in a 5-day "SNAP the Silence" challenge to eat on just $5 a day will share their experiences in downtown Silver Spring Friday evening.

"On 3rd day living off $5.00 a day. Woke up with small hunger pain at 4:30 this morning. Craving for food."

"I was already in touch with the devastation of hunger but to actually experience the dizziness, lethargy, inability to focus and concentrate that our clients experience was a rude awakening."

Two of the experiences participants in the "SNAP the Silence" challenge have shared on Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring)'s Facebook page promoting the program

Ervin's initiative challenged people in Montgomery County to try and feed themselves on just $5 a day for five days, or the average food allotment for people on food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), in hopes of bringing attention to a growing number of hungry people in the county.

As of last October, 65,200 people in Montgomery County participated in the SNAP program, according to a release from the County Council. 

SNAP challenge participants, including Councilmember Ervin, will share their experiences and discuss new ways to fight hunger Friday in Silver Spring at the Civic Building from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

"I am looking forward to sharing my experience and hearing everyone’s personal stories on Friday evening, but this is just the beginning," said Ervin. 

“The goal is to turn this heightened awareness about poverty in Montgomery County into action for our neediest residents...This challenge has demonstrated to all of us that we have more work to do."

County leaders, including Council President Nancy Navarro, Council Vice-President Craig Rice, Councilmember Nancy Floreen, Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr and Board of Education President Christopher Barclay, gathered at a Giant grocery store in Rockville to shop for the week on Monday, WTOP reports, where some were especially challenged.

Barclay, who has diabetes, and Floreen, who is a breast cancer survivor, said they had trouble affording the fruits and vegetables needed for their health on the budget.

According to the Washington Post, some in Montgomery County who receive SNAP benefits were offended by the challenge. A 60-year-old woman standing in a food line in the Long Branch neighborhood of Silver Spring said the program was "cavalier."

"It demonstrates a lack of understanding of what this about...I don’t know what they expected to come out of it. To prove that it’s possible?" she told the Post.

Still, leaders said it could bring much-needed attention to an issue that people may not know exists.

"Yes, we're the economic engine of the state, but we also have needs and we need to come together and address them," said Navarro. 

What do you think of the SNAP Challenge? Tell us in the comments.

tanisha February 09, 2013 at 11:46 AM
and these folks that participated live in nice homes, with heat, have cars and don't worry about the gasoline cost. Let's not forget they also have County paid health care. Give me a break!
tom norris February 09, 2013 at 04:09 PM
While there is nothing wrong for the local politicians to focus on “poverty,” the irony of this stunt should not be overlooked. After all, it was these same politicians on the County Council that turned their backs on the economic devastation and poverty in Burtonsville caused by the Rt 29 bypass. www.SaveBurtonsville.com The outrageous and incompetent action to deny residential housing on the 40-acre tract next to the Burtonsville shopping center has created great hardship and poverty for scores of merchants and landowners. But who cares about this type of poverty, which was once the bedrock of American society? So the very same politicians that are showboating about “poverty” in one part of the MoCo have actually created great poverty and blight in another location. No one should be fooled about what has taken place. These same politicians that pretend to care about poverty, are the sponsors of poverty, having turned their backs on creating jobs and increasing property values in Burtonsville, which would have raised millions of dollars in tax revenues, some of which could be used to address poverty. Something is very wrong. The County needs new leadership. Tom Norris for the Committee to Save Burtonsville
jag February 09, 2013 at 09:51 PM
Wtf? What is your point? Because you very obviously miss the Challenge's point.
Thomas Paine February 10, 2013 at 04:54 PM
Another sad political stunt. I USED TO respect Valerie Ervin. I'd like to see her shopping list for her $35 for the week. Anyone know if/where this is available?


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