100 Hours of Poverty Pushes For More Hunger Awareness

For five days more than 200 students and faculty members participated in 100 Hours of Poverty by spending under $30 on food to experience what it’s like to live on food stamps.

Participants took on the challenge by limiting themselves to one meal a day, skipping meals all together, having to settle for cheaper, less nutritious options and declining to purchase luxuries they’ve grown
accustomed to.

Law school assistant professor of Clinical Legal Education Jennifer Baum said that the amount $27.49 was chosen for the 100 hours because it corresponds with how the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) distributes food stamps. SNAP currently allots a qualified household of one person $200 in food stamps every month, which, cut down to a span of 100 hours, comes
out to $27.49.

“By walking…in the shoes of a person relying on food stamps for daily nutrition, we hope to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by low and no income families,” Baum said.

100 Hours of Poverty was held at the Law School last year and was so successful that they decided to bring it to the rest of the University this November,Baum said.

The Law School’s Child Advocacy Clinic along with Campus Ministry sponsored the program. The Clinic represents abused and neglected children, many of whom are poor.

“Their daily struggles inspired us to bring their stories to the large community,” Baum said, adding that 100 Hours “seemed like a potentially motivating way to start a conversation about what each of us individually can do to help.”

Danielle Douglas, a senior, has participated in other events to help the under-priviledged like volunteering at soup kitchens and doing homeless walks, but said that actually forcing herself to live on a food stamp budget provided a new perspective right from the beginning.

“I have definitely been starving today and I feel like it will get worse as the day progresses,” Douglas said. “It has been an eye opener already and it’s only day one.”

Douglas added that she guessed she’d have to skip meals throughout the rest of the week.

On Nov. 10 at the 100th hour, program’s sponsors provided a dinner for those who participated. A discussion on poverty was held by faculty members during the meal.

Associate professor of Anthropology Dr. Barrett Brenton was the keynote speaker. He emphasized how SNAP is meant to assist the impoverished with their food needs, not provide all of them, and how work in social justice can further aid in feeding the hungry in the midst
of rising food prices.

Brenton also talked about “food deserts,” a phrase used to describe communities without businesses that provide healthy foods. He said these disadvantaged neighborhoods make it even more difficult for the impoverished by forcing them to spend what little money they have on transportation in order to get adequate nutrition.

Josephine Marescot, a junior, felt the effects poverty can have on nutrition as well, saying that the biggest challenge she ran into throughout the 100 Hours was eating healthy.

“It’s hard because all those [healthy] options are too expensive or not plentiful,” Marescot said.