As the result of a recent study that found one in seven Americans are dependent on food stamps, the Graduate Student Government has started the Food Stamp Challenge, a monthlong initiative part of Trojans Unite Against Hunger, a USC-led campaign to stop hunger in the United States.
Dean of Social Work Marilyn Flynn and the Dean of Religious Life Varun Soni are among more than sixty participants who have opted to take the challenge for one to four days. Participants are limited to spending only $4 per day.
“It’s pretty rough,” said Blas Villalobos, a graduate student studying social work. “You actually have to take a look at what you’re eating when you get hungry. Unfortunately, two or three days of this doesn’t really compare to what some people go through on a daily basis.”
Of the more than 45 million people who use food stamps, 47 percent are children, according to the Department of Agriculture.
“It’s so easy for us to walk into a store and say, ‘That’s the kind of bread and peanut butter I want, because it’s better for me,’” said Sarah Young, a graduate student studying social work. “For so many people, though, that’s just not an option.”
Jason Lipeles, a coordinator of the Food Stamp Challenge, said that one of the toughest parts about living on food stamps is getting adequate nutrition.
“When I went shopping for the challenge, I noticed that because I was looking for cheap produce, it tended to be low quality,” Lipeles said. “There definitely wasn’t any organic produce.”
D’Andre Holland, GSG director of community service and special events, said she hopes the initiative will foster awareness and promote action among USC students.
“We still have a long way to go as far as poverty is concerned,” Holland said. “If we can throw food away every 10 to 20 minutes, why are so many people still hungry?”
Kevin Anderson, GSG vice president-elect, said GSG is planning other social awareness campaigns this semester.