From empathy to advocacy after SNAP challenge

In Hamilton County alone, 148,570 individuals—18.5 percent—are considered “food insecure.” More than 20 percent of that number is made up of children—40,250 of whom are not receiving sufficient nourishment.  

In an effort to raise awareness of food insecurity and increase advocacy for its 25 member groups, Community Shares of Greater Cincinnati recently completed its first SNAP Challenge, in which 55 individuals committed to eating on a strict budget for one week—a budget simulating the $31.50 per week allotted to an individual receiving SNAP benefits today. 

“We wanted to reiterate the fact that even though you’ve taken this challenge and it might have been difficult, that’s a tiny fraction of what someone in poverty would actually experience, because they have so many other things working against them,” says Alicia Hildebrand, an Americorps Public Ally and the organizer of Community Shares’ SNAP Out of It Challenge. 

Things like transportation, lack of time to meal-plan and lack of resources in the kitchen to prepare healthy meals are just a few of the obstacles hundreds of thousands of our neighbors are facing. 

As part of the challenge, Community Shares organized a meal-planning workshop, facilitated by Peachy Seiden of Peachy’s Health Smart, in an effort to show individuals facing food insecurity how they can maximize their resources to eat healthy. 

According to Hildebrand, many people realize that hunger exists, but they don’t realize the prevalence of food insecurity in our country, let alone our region. 

“The experience can be a great catalyst for the positive changes we want to see in our community,” Hildebrand says. “And I think that once you have the empathy and you understand and can make that change from a point of understanding, then you can turn that empathy into advocacy and take it to another level and work toward policy change.” 

Do Good:

• Support Community Shares' member organizations by giving.

• Volunteer with one of Community Shares' member organizations.

Contact Alicia Hildebrand if you're interested in getting involved with Community Shares.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

 
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