My “Food Stamp” Challenge

BY: - 7 Mar '13 | Lifestyle

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Photo Credit: Alex Skud Bayley via Flickr

Photo Credit: Alex Skud Bayley via Flickr

As I have mentioned in previous articles, I spend my days providing job and life training skills to individuals who are at risk of becoming homeless. My evenings are spent coaching individuals and couples on personal challenges. I absolutely love what I do. As a great coach and trainer, I must be willing to go where I coach my clients into going. Basically, I have to be able to walk the talk; and for the most part I do.

The exercises and assignments I give to my clients are those that I have also tried with my own family. However, in my daytime position, outside of resume writing and interviewing skills, I haven’t actually walked in my students’ shoes. The mission of the organization I work for is to prepare and inspire motivated individuals to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty, transform their lives, strengthen our communities, and forge paths to real and lasting success. In order for us to be successful in delivering that mighty mission we first have to understand the barriers our students face.

One of the major challenges is living and surviving on very limited resources. So in order to step into the lives of the people we service, a group of my coworkers and I decided to spend a week living on a few of those same limited resources. I am only 3 days in and I am already feeling the struggle.

The challenge we chose was to live on $5 per day. Sounds like a SNAP, right? (SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is the program formerly known as food stamps, and is the form of assistance our students receive.) But this $5 per day includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Initially, I underestimated how difficult this could be. I am a budget shopper anyway, so I am very familiar with stretching a dollar. What I didn’t realize was how fast the money would go and how I would find myself scrambling toward the end of the week and hungry.

This has truly opened my eyes to just how blessed we are and how much I take for granted. I know people live like this everyday, I also grew up on food stamps and we made it work. I understand I won’t get the full affect in just one week, but it has truly humbled me.

BMWK — Could you live on $5 per day?

About the author

Tiya Cunningham-Sumter wrote 532 articles on this blog.

Tiya Cunningham-Sumter is a Certified Life & Relationship Coach, founder of Life Editing and Author of A Conversation Piece: 32 Bold Relationship Lessons for Discussing Marriage, Sex and Conflict. She helps couples and individuals rewrite their life to reflect their dreams. Tiya has been featured in Essence and Ebony Magazines, and on the Michael Baisden Show. She resides in Chicago with her husband and two daughters. For more of Tiya's fearless life and love wisdom, visit her blog at


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