On Monday of this week I forgot my lunch at home. This wouldn't have been a big deal, except that I'm participating in the SNAP challenge this week, and to remain true to it, I could only eat what I've already purchased -- my lunch back home.
So during lunch, I made the 40-minute drive home to pick up my meal. As I was driving however, I realized that I had the privilege of retrieving my forgotten lunch. For the millions on SNAP, this might not be the case. Forgetting their lunch might mean that they just won't have food that day -- they'll have to go hungry instead.
Forgetting my lunch is just one of the obstacles I've faced participating in the SNAP challenge this week. I've also found it difficult to concentrate at work. I'm tired, hungry and have a caffeine headache -- not to mention I've caught myself dreaming of coffee and all of my favorite foods more than once. I've always known food insecurity impacts your ability to work and learn -- but I've never felt that reality in such a tangible way.
The fact that millions of kids experience this every day is particularly troubling. Not getting enough of the right types of food slows down my thinking and dampens my effectiveness at work -- for kids, not getting enough to eat has even broader consequences as it impacts their development, ability to achieve in school and physical health throughout their life. I can't imagine how it must feel to not be able to give your kids the food they need.
I'm half-way through my challenge, and while it's given me insight into the plight of people living with food insecurity, I'm aware that it hasn't truly placed me in their shoes. I'm doing this by choice, and only for a week. For millions of Americans, they are struggling for months -- without the promise that a large steak and steaming cup of coffee will be waiting for them at the end of the road. If nothing else, this challenge is helping me not take for granted the food I have access to, and appreciate even more the importance of ending hunger in America.