Bread for the World helps students to what it’s like to live on food stamps


Students survived on $1 a meal per person or $3 a day.

The Bread for the World (BFW) NIU Student Chapter and Student Dietetic Association organized the first on-campus Food Stamp Challenge, to bring awareness to the current food stamp program, Elizabeth DeAvilla, president of BFW said.

The challenge lasted three days from April 1-3.

Alyssa Gray, senior nutrition and dietetics major, and vice president of BFW said last year, five BFW members traveled to Washington D.C. to lobby the farm bill, and they attended a national BFW conference.

“At this event we learned about the problems with the food stamp program and it really opened my eyes,” Gray said. “I didn’t realize how only 30 percent of people eligible for the program are enrolled and over half of the participants are children.”

DeAvilla said the opening night of the challenge began with a panel discussion about the current food stamp program. She said the challenge concluded with a letter-writing campaign.

Participants wrote to local legislatures for changes and allowing money for the program.

“We provided the participants with sample menus, shopping lists as well as recipes,” DeAvilla said. “We wanted to make this as healthy as well as easy as we could for all participants, with them still getting the gist of the challenge.”

Gray described the individuals who survive on food stamps.

“Many people in our country think that individuals on food stamps just need to get a job and stop taking advantage of the taxpayers,” Gray said. “Most of these individuals work one or two jobs and have no other way to survive.”

DeAvilla said it was hard to eat healthy and hard to shop for food.

“Ramen noodles are quite cheaper than whole wheat pasta,” she said. “Planning was a big part of the challenge, and knowing how not to run out of food for the entire three days.”