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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Food stamp simulation proves challenging

Jason Mendoza and his fiancee, Krista Oppie, like many other Lutherans, took the Food Stamp Challenge to learn firsthand about the hardships that millions of low-income Americans face in obtaining a healthy diet under current food stamp benefit levels. At presstime, Congress was in the process of reauthorizing or writing a new U.S. Farm Bill, which includes the Food Stamp Program. The ELCA Washington Office has encouraged Lutherans to call or write their member of Congress to ask that the per-meal benefit for the Food Stamp Program be raised.

Krista Oppie, a student at Luther Seminary,
Krista Oppie, a student at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., and Jason Mendoza, Seattle, spent less than a week trying to exist on food purchased with food stamps. “We felt completely grumpy, irritable and edgy,” Mendoza admitted. The Food Stamp Challenge, highly publicized last fall, encouraged Lutherans to experience firsthand what others do day by day, week by week.
We felt completely grumpy, irritable and edgy,” Jason Mendoza recalled of the experience he and Krista Oppie had taking the Food Stamp Challenge for five days last fall.

Mendoza, 23, and Oppie, 24, were among seven members of Maple Leaf Lutheran Church, Seattle, to take the challenge—to live on a food stamp budget of $1 per person, per meal for one week.

“At first I was looking forward to the Food Stamp Challenge,” said Mendoza, a culinary school graduate. “I thought, ‘We’d eat good every day. This should be no problem.’ ”


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