Hunger Awareness Project 2011

In April, several of the members of the newly founded Austin Food Bloggers Alliance (including me) met at the office of the Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB) and learned some staggering statistics about hunger in America (in general) and in Texas (specifically). We learned about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP - a program that is federally funded but shares administrative costs with each state. Each state, therefore, sets up their own application process and paperwork requirements - and I was dismayed that Texas, which ranks #3 in the nation in hunger, has the most complicated and off-putting application process in the country. Right now, in Texas, 1 in 4 children is food insecure - that means that roughly 1,723,992 children in Texas don't know where their next meal is coming from. But because SNAP is so difficult to apply for in Texas - and if you do apply, you may receive as little as $16 a month to supplement your food budget - only about 55% of people who are eligible for SNAP are using it. Of the 1.7 million hungry kids in Texas only about 1.4 million are receiving SNAP benefits. We'd like to see this change.

CAFB has challenged us to create awareness of the SNAP program through a blogging campaign. Specifically, we've been asked to design recipes which demonstrate how even the minimum of benefit awarded to applicants can make a positive impact on their diets. (And some of our members have already posted great recipes - check out this one by Dinner With Daneman!) These recipes may then be used by the Capital Area Food Bank in their outreach and education programs. And among those programs are two classes which really captured my attention - The Power of Choice and Kids in the Kitchen.

If you are reading this blog, then you know what my passions are - getting kids in the kitchen and cooking nutritious family foods - so the first thing that came to mind was how could X and I make healthy snacks on $16 a month. So, coming in May, each Friday we'll posting new recipe or snack idea in our "Snacks are a SNAP!" campaign.

Here's what we're working with:
  • The food budget is $16 a month, roughly $4 a week
  • Recipes may include pantry staples procured from CAFB - things like USDA peanut butter, apples, apple juice, oranges, USDA dairy, grapefruit, USDA applesauce, USDA rolled oats, canned vegetables such as corn and beans, lunch meats, and assorted breakfast cereals
  • The recipe will be something a child could make for him or herself using minimal kitchen appliances, with minimal or no cooking required.
  • The emphasis will be on nutrition - we'll be packing the biggest protein (with an emphasis on vegetable proteins from sources like beans), whole grain and vitamin punch you can into a snack.
I've asked some of my favorite mom food bloggers to join me in coming up with snack ideas and I hope you'll visit their blogs as well: