McKell is the organizer of a week-long experiment that several dozen members of the congregation are participating in during the Lenten season: Trying to live only on the resources provided to people on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps. The weekly SNAP grocery allotment is $31.27.
“It’s a fascinating experience,” McKell said. “You end up thinking about more than just food. You have to do all these calculations to see if it makes sense to spend the money on gas to drive to a grocery store that would be out of the way just because they have a good deal on something.”
McKell said he’s been acutely aware of how the budgetary restriction will impact he and his wife’s social life as well. There will be no going out to lunch this week, or meeting friends for dinner.
“You would spend your entire week’s budget in a night if you went to a restaurant for dinner,” he said. “You can see that it could be isolating.”
The challenge will run through April 5. Around 45 families are participating.