It’s been four days since I have embarked on the National SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program known as CalFresh in California) Challenge and I have experienced hunger in a new way. As a child, I never experienced hunger first hand, not because we were wealthy, but because we always had food on the table. My mother is just a really good cook, she sees what is available in the kitchen and she can figure out what dish she can make. As an adolescent, I started to experience what for food insecurity was through my parents. Their food budget was small because they usually paid for rent and bills first.
Hunger in the past few days has been present for me. I feel my stomach growls throughout the day, particularly when I smell someone’s lunch at work or hear about what they ate during lunch. I was trying hard not to pass by the hospitality area at work because I know that there is usually some type of snacks, sweet fresh fruits, or someone lingering around while enjoying a quick bite.
My concentration and mood has been altered as well. It’s hard to concentrate when you develop a headache and try to focus on a computer monitor at the same time. Also, when driving around doing outreach among the community on a hot summer day and trying to be present for every individual you speak with. By the end of the day, my headache got stronger and I felt very much fatigue. One of my co-workers mentioned to me that I might be having caffeine withdrawals, but after talking to a professional chef/nutritionist, I really understood what was happening to my body. I ended my day by going to sleep early at 6:30 in the evening.
Halfway through this challenge and I can’t bear to think of my daughter feeling hunger. I’d rather limit my own food intake than have her go without proper food nutrition. Her development is very important and having a variety of healthy foods plays a key role. CalFresh is in fact the first line of defense against hunger because of being able to utilize the CalFresh benefits to buy a variety of healthy and nutritious foods for a proper balanced diet.
My daughter’s healthy snacks and Black Bean Tostadas
As I was preparing my lunch this morning, I felt tired and experienced the same feelings of frustration. I also notice that I am looking closely at how much food I have left. I am just counting the days until this challenge of mine is over, but at the same time feeling thankful for the kind of work that I do. I am glad to be in the position to support families in our community, educating them about CalFresh and referring them to pantries where they can obtain some food. This experience is giving me a greater understanding of what families go through.
Two boiled eggs and a banana shake.
Two potato and chicken burritos and half tomato.
A bowl of beans with some chicken.
It is a blessing to have food but kind of disappointing when I don’t have many options for my meals.
I am usually a very energetic person and taking this challenge has really impacted me in the following ways. I am very tired, sleepy, my energy level is gone. I usually get up and go to the gym every morning at 4am-6am. I could not get up this morning to go, that’s how tired and sleepy I was. I find myself not as happy as I usually am. I feel and I have heard from some of my coworkers that I have been really quiet and reserved. I feel like I am forgetting things I need to do. I find myself writing notes to remind me of what I need to do throughout the day. I feel very hungry even though I am eating my meals on time. But with very little food left, I have to watch my portions more than I usually do. I find the day by day the challenge is getting harder for me.