Local politicians encourage public to end silence over poverty
From Feb. 4 to Feb. 8, Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin invited the public to join her in living on five dollars a day per person. This challenge mimics the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides its beneficiaries with solely $4.28 per day.The purpose of this challenge is to understand the feats faced by the needy in Montgomery County. "While living on a SNAP budget for just a week will not come close to the struggles encountered by low-income working families, it does provide a new perspective and greater understanding for those who take the challenge," the SNAP website states. In Oct. 2012, less than seven percent of the county's population depended on the SNAP program to "supplement their food budget."
Students at Blair also got involved through Avi Edelman, who currently works for Ervin and was a summer camp counselor to a group of Blazers. In early February, the participating Blazers went around getting fellow students and teachers to sign up for the program and promoted it through Facebook and Twitter.
Freshman Adina Rombro got involved through her sister, junior Elana Rombro, who was an organizer of the challenge. "My entire family did the program, so at the beginning of the week we went to the grocery store and had $100 for the entire week for four people," A. Rombro said.
The participants agree that the process was difficult yet rewarding. "We ate lots of rice and beans because it's one of the cheapest yet filling foods you can get. The challenge wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it definitely took some adjusting at the beginning," sophomore Elia Tzoukermann said.
Most of the students and their families, like the Rombros, went to the grocery store at the beginning of the week to start their challenge and focused on buying the cheapest foods that would still give them energy. "For dinner we had meals without much substance and without fruits or veggies because they were too expensive. It was pretty hard to think that some people have to live like that forever, when I could barely do it for a week," A. Rombro said.
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The five dollars a day challenge also helped the students to reflect on how they view life. "It was such an amazing experience because it made me realize how privileged I am by putting myself in someone else's shoes," Tzoukermann said.
Both the Rombros and Tzoukermann encourage more people to get involved and try the challenge because they believe it's an eye opening experience. "Even though you might never think about the amount of money you spend on food a day," Tzourkermann said, "some people fight to get a meal for themselves or families."
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