Three mayors step up for Hunger Challenge

To read about Jessica Stockamp’s shopping trip click here.

To read about John Dietz’ shopping trip click here.

It has been said that a lot can be gained by walking a mile in another person’s shoes.

Well, some local community leaders have agreed to walk for a week in the shoes of families who have dealt with not having enough money to put food on the table — and hunger.

Elk River Mayor John Dietz, Otsego Mayor Jessica Stockamp and Zimmerman Mayor Dave Earenfight and others have agreed to take The Hunger Challenge: Living on a Food Support Budget from March 4-11.

The campaign comes at the same time as Minnesota FoodShare’s March campaign to restock food shelves, including CAER in Elk River and CROSS in Rogers.

CAER’s goal this year is 115,000 pounds or dollars, including matching proceeds from FoodShare and Feinstein Foundation.

This year’s theme is Be the Hero. Fight Hunger.

That’s what the local mayors and the Rev. Paul Johansson of Central Lutheran Church hope to do. The awareness campaign they agreed to be part of is being led by Hunger Free Sherburne County. This coalition of community leaders is hoping to make others aware of the circumstances and challenges many food support recipients face.

Each year 100 million meals are missed by families in Minnesota. Food shelves and other organizations are working together to help close the gap on those missing meals.

In Minnesota, the average amount received per person per week in food support is $27.35.

Hunger Challenge participants will be forced to make difficult food shopping choices and will realize how difficult it is to avoid hunger, afford nutritious foods and eat healthfully, according to Jenny Gray, executive director of the CAER food shelf.

While living on a food support budget for just a week cannot come close to the struggles encountered by families with reduced income week after week and month after month, it does provide those who take the challenge a new perspective and greater understanding, Gray said.

The Food Support Program or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is the nation’s single most significant program in the fight against hunger by providing low-income people with funds to buy food at the supermarket using a special debit card. The benefits are based on family size, income, expenses and several other factors. The program is designed to improve the nutrition level and food purchasing power of people with low incomes.

Challenge guidelines

•Each person should only spend a total of $27.35 (or $3.91 per day) on food and beverages during the week of March 4 – 10.

•All food purchased and eaten during the challenge week, including fast food and dining out, must be included in the total spending.

•During the challenge, only eat food and beverages that you purchase for the project. Do not eat food that you already own (this does not include spices and condiments).

•Avoid accepting free food and beverages from friends, family or at work.

•Keep track of receipts on food spending and take note of your experiences throughout the week.