Outcomes of the 2017 SNAP Challenge

The 2017 UCSB SNAP Challenge saw a wide range of faculty and staff participation. 18 different campus departments participated, representing a diversity of disciplines from Mathematics to Writing. 25 total individuals participated in the challenge, and the winning team was comprised of 4 individuals from the Office of the Registrar and Enrollment Services.

Participants found that the experience of the challenge prompted them to reflect on the struggles of those living with food insecurity. One individual reported, “It was interesting to consider a variety of ways that income plays into food security. I was able to keep things going through mid-week, but things fell apart after Thursday due to familial pressures and needs.” Another participant reported having to cut the challenge short because she was experiencing headaches while eating a lower-quality diet, and noted that those living on the SNAP budget year-round may face greater health issues. Thus, even the participants who did not successfully complete the challenge took away an increased understanding of food insecurity.

Participants shared their experiences with their families and coworkers, so the impact of the challenge went beyond the participants themselves. 86% of participants reported discussing the challenge with their coworkers, families, and friends, and an additional 15% reported posting about the challenge on social media. For an example of how these discussions made a meaningful impact, one participant reported, “One of the interesting things that came up, via a discussion with a colleague, was that food preparation would be difficult because we have, over time, invested a lot of money in culinary items that help with cooking. Also, you are ultimately driven to buy cheaper, more processed food when you have less money to purchase food.”

Finally, the challenge motivated some participants to get involved in fighting food insecurity. Participants expressed interest in organizing departmental food drives for the Associated Food Bank, and one participant wrote that she was inspired to get involved with community-based activism around food justice issues.

Stay tuned for the next UCSB SNAP Challenge, and in the meantime, feel free to use the resources below to conduct your own challenge!

When: January 30-February 5, 2017

Who: UCSB Faculty and Staff, by Academic Department

Registration Link: https://goo.gl/forms/utbiWYNFXPuxGURp2

Be sure to include your email when you register so that you can receive updates before, during, and after the event!

SNAP Challenge

The SNAP challenge involves purchasing food for one week using only the monetary equivalent of what you would be allowed from CalFresh/SNAP benefits, and making daily reflections as you go. While we encourage participants to try their best to stay within their daily allowance, making meaningful reflection is the most important aspect of the challenge. This can mean writing in a journal, talking with your friends or coworkers, writing a blog, or sharing on social media. While the challenge only gives a short glimpse into the experience of low-income individuals who struggle with food insecurity year-round, it does give participants the opportunity for a new perspective and greater understanding.

We ask that UCSB faculty and staff participate on teams by academic department. Small departments are welcome to team up with another department in their building, with a maximum of 50 individuals on each team. Whichever team has the most individuals who successfully complete the challenge will win a fruit tree dedicated in the name of their department(s) to the Edible Campus Program, which grows fresh produce for the Associated Students Food Bank.


Q: Who can participate in the challenge?

A: We encourage faculty and staff to participate by academic department. Families and friends of participants are also welcome to participate, and anyone who has not received benefits from CalFresh/SNAP will gain a new perspective by participating.

Q: How do I sign up for the challenge?

A: Register for the challenge through this Google form, and be sure to include your email address so that you will receive updates before, during, and after the challenge: https://goo.gl/forms/utbiWYNFXPuxGURp2

Q: How do I “win” the challenge?

A: Successfully completing the challenge means staying within the monetary equivalent of what you would be allowed by SNAP for the entire week of January 30-February 5. Whichever academic department/team has the most individuals who complete the challenge will win a fruit tree dedicated in the name of their department to the Edible Campus Program, which grows produce for the Associated Students Food Bank.

Q: My department is small and has very few faculty and staff. How do we win?

A: Smaller departments are encouraged to team up with other small departments in their building. Discuss this option with your colleagues, and be sure to indicate which department you plan to team up with on the Google registration form. Teams can have a maximum of 50 individuals.

Q: How do I know my monetary allowance for the challenge?

A: Consult the table in the information packet at this link in order to find your or your family’s SNAP allowance: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Sh6lo3aFRS4DYfGNT4XgAtu-x_bXOj6k7YmWiaqDGdI/edit?usp=sharing 
Q: Where can I find the reflection prompts? 

A: The reflection prompts can be found in the information packet at this link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Sh6lo3aFRS4DYfGNT4XgAtu-x_bXOj6k7YmWiaqDGdI/edit?usp=sharing

Q: What if I don’t have time to make reflections every day?

A: Reflections can be made in whatever form you are comfortable with and have time for. This can mean writing in a journal, talking with your colleagues, making a blog, sharing on social media, or just taking a few minutes to think at the end of the day.

Q: What if I go over my daily/weekly allowance?

A: While we encourage people to try their best to complete the challenge, it is more important to make meaningful reflections. Think and reflect: if you were unable to successfully complete the challenge, why? What does this mean for people who live with this amount of money year round instead of just a week?

More Information

For full information, rules, and guidelines, view the full SNAP Challenge packet: