Here’s my final list, along with the itemized costs: SNAP Challenge Day #1: Prepping for the Challenge by Ron Shaich

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I had already understood that coffee, pistachios and granola, staples in my normal diet, would easily blow the weekly budget SNAP Challenge Day #1: Prepping for the Challenge by Ron Shaich

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September 15th, 2013

Funny he mentions pistachios in the things that would have “blown” his budget, because in large stored amounts, pistachios can heat up to the point of combustion, and even explode!

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As I said in my initial post, you won't hear me claim that my experiences from the upcoming week represent an authentic representation of food insecurity in America SNAP Challenge Day #1: Prepping for the Challenge by Ron Shaich

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I needed to pick up groceries for my SNAP Challenge and my eyes were set on NSA Supermarket in Dorchester, Mass., a grocery store known to have significantly lower prices than other local outlets SNAP Challenge Day #1: Prepping for the Challenge by Ron Shaich

Ron has already figured out a significant portion of time spent living in hunger: pouring over ads and reports to find the cheapest possible prices on food, just to save a few cents. Because SNAP benefits are so low, it is vital to reduce costs as much as possible, even if it means going out of the way to one particular store.

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I’ll be back on September 14 to start sharing about my Challenge Challenging Myself to Experience Hunger by Ron Shaich

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My energy level Challenging Myself to Experience Hunger by Ron Shaich

“Energy level” is the last thing you would expect to evaluate, but the most important: food is designed to fuel. In order to function in society, a certain amount of energy is needed, preventing sluggishness, sleepiness, and accidents. Because SNAP benefits are so minimal, most on the program do not get access to the foods most capable of supporting daily work, whether in school or at a job, sharply decreasing performance. Without good, healthy food, a cycle of tiredness and struggle becomes prominent.

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And I understand that many millions of people, including some of Panera’s own employees, have encountered more prolonged and painful bouts of food insecurity Challenging Myself to Experience Hunger by Ron Shaich

Panera’s average hourly pay for typical day-to-day jobs registers at or around minimum wage. While minimum wage provides a bottom standard for pay, it is not actually a living wage — most are required to work another job to be able to support themselves off of $8 per hour. As a result, even the relatively well-paying Panera is often not enough to support a worker at standards we would consider acceptable.

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For one week, beginning Saturday, September 14, 2013, I will live on just $4.50 a day, the average daily benefit per person provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; formerly known as Food Stamps) Challenging Myself to Experience Hunger by Ron Shaich

In fact, SNAP benefits are not increasing. Since 2012, the average monthly benefit, around $132, has not significantly changed, despite fluctuations in the food economy and resources. Given that, in the same time period, the cost of food on average rose 1.4%, this means that SNAP recipients have less spending power than ever.

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I’m talking about having to decide between paying for an unforeseen medical or housing expense versus buying food to feed my family for the month Challenging Myself to Experience Hunger by Ron Shaich

As McDonald’s sample monthly budget shows, there is little to no wiggle room for those living at or below poverty. And extra income is in fact already indebted to basic costs, like food or power, and cannot be put aside for medical bills or other preventative care. This means a hard choice between living without hunger or living without health.

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And yet, despite everything I have learned about hunger and the various efforts I’ve undertaken to try to make a dent in the problem, I have never actually experienced hunger firsthand Challenging Myself to Experience Hunger by Ron Shaich

Despite being an entrepreneur, leading two successful chains, Panera and Au Bon Pain, Shaich is a devoted and active philanthropist focusing on hunger. To date, Shaich:

“…serves as President of the Panera Bread Foundation and recently spearheaded the Panera Cares initiative, through which the Foundation created nonprofit community cafes aimed at addressing issues related to food insecurity. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Lown Cardiovascular Research Foundation and on the Board of the Rashi School. Shaich formerly served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Clark University. He is also a co-founder of No Labels, a political organization aimed at addressing the politics of problem solving. ”

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