Typically, about 12% of households in the US experience food insecurity in a given year. This
year that number reached 25%, largely as a result of the pandemic. Food insecurity is the
inability to obtain an adequate amount of healthy food. The #1 cause of food insecurity in the US
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – also known as Food Stamps – is a
government-funded program with the goal of increasing food security. The program provides
monthly financial allotments to be used for the purchase of food. Ready-to-eat or restaurant
foods, alcohol, tobacco, medications, supplements, and toiletries cannot be purchased using
Even though SNAP helps, it’s not a miracle solution and these individuals often still struggle to
stay healthy, maintain their weight, and meet dietary recommendations. Today, you will put
yourself in the shoes of someone living in this situation and explore these challenges.
Step 1: Complete the following table using the information provided (2 points)
Average monthly SNAP allotment
for one person $194
Weekly food budget
(there are 4.3 weeks per month)
Daily food budget
Step 2: Listed below is the amount of each MyPlate food group needed per week for one
person to meet the Dietary Guidelines. Using the internet, grocery store app, or newspaper ads
from one store only (you’re living in poverty, you don’t have the luxury of shopping the sales),
fill your virtual shopping cart with adequate food to meet the weekly requirements. Record your
foods, amounts, and prices in the table below as you “shop” (13 points)
What store did you choose? __________________________ (1 point)
Things to keep in mind:
● You may use weekly sale prices if they are listed, otherwise you must pay full price
● You must purchase food how it is packaged
● You’ll need to be able to assemble this food into meals (ex: if you buy pasta, you need
vegetables or sauce to go with it)
● If you can’t afford to meet all the recommendations, get as close as you can
● I have posted tables for each MyPlate food group that will help you determine what
counts as 1 cup or 1 oz. of each food group; please download and refer to these to ensure
you are purchasing the correct amount of food
for 1 week Food + amount purchased + price
dried, or 100% juice)
(dark leafy greens
and broccoli only)
(does not include
(potatoes, corn, root
(beans and peas) 1.5 cups
(anything not in the
groups above, or any
Whole grains 21 oz
(1 gallon = 16 cups)
(1 cup = 8 fl. oz.)
Meat/poultry/eggs 26 oz
Seafood 8 oz
Nuts/seeds/soy 4 oz
(junk food, dessert,
*reminder: alcohol, ready-to-eat foods, and restaurant foods cannot be purchased with SNAP
Step 3: Add up the price of all items in your shopping cart – if the total doesn’t fall at or below
your weekly allotment, you must swap out items until it does
Total: ___________ (2 points)
Step 4: Assemble 1 day of meals using the foods you purchased. If possible, each meal should
contain at least one food from each food group (fruits, veggies, grains, protein, dairy) (9 points)
Step 5: Answer the following questions about your experience (3 points each)
1. What was easy about this exercise?
2. What was challenging about this exercise?
3. Were there any recommendations you were ultimately unable to meet? If so, how did you
decide which foods to cut back on and which to buy more of?
4. Discuss the meals you assembled in step 4. Are they enjoyable? Are they missing
anything? What other ingredients or kitchen supplies might you need to prepare these
5. Consider the nutrients of concern: fiber, vitamin D, calcium, and potassium. Also
consider iron, which is often deficient in low-income individuals. Which foods did you
purchase that contain each of these nutrients? Be thorough with your answer.
6. Are you at risk for deficiency of any of the nutrients from question 5? (Really think about
your answer here and remember that, for example, 1 glass of milk or 1 banana would not
be nearly enough to meet recommendations)
7. Put yourself in the footsteps of an individual who qualities for SNAP and think about the
logistics of your life if you were in this situation.
a. What barriers might you face that would make it difficult for you to apply for
SNAP in the first place?
b. What barriers might you face that would impact your ability to use your SNAP
funds once you’ve received them?
c. What barriers might you face once you’ve obtained the food?
8. Assess your experience from a psychological perspective. How would this make you feel
if you faced these challenges or had to eat these foods on a daily/weekly/monthly basis?
9. If your experience in this assignment was real life, would you be food secure or insecure?
Remember all five components: quality, quantity, suitability, social, and psychological.
Explain your answer.