Sunday, April 7, 2013

Final Synopsis

This was published in the Vero Beach Press Journal on Saturday, March 30th:

My name is Curtis Carpenter. I’m 28 years old and a father of 2 wonderful boys, ages 3 and 4. I have a college degree and I work full-time. I’ve never really thought about my diet too much and I’ve always felt like I was in good shape. I can run a 5k on a whim, I’m usually witty in a jiff, and I never seem to be too tired or lethargic.
For seven days in March, that last statement wasn’t necessarily true. This is because I took the SNAP Challenge. SNAP is an acronym for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. SNAP is commonly referred to as “food stamps” and is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net.
The SNAP Challenge is a week long, voluntary event, in which a person or family lives on $4 per day, per person, which is what the average SNAP beneficiary receives. Throughout the challenge, I felt very hungry, tired, and weak.

I lived for one week on $25.25 worth of food. I compiled a daily menu at the beginning of the week and I only consumed the items on that menu. While I was offered, many times, free food on a consistent basis, I declined because I didn’t want to skew the control on my experiment. Therefore, I kept very concise data on cost and nutritional value recorded on a blog I created specifically for this challenge. The website is

There are obvious arguments over the abuse of the food stamp system. While I have my own opinions on that particular topic, the conclusion I’ve come to has nothing to do with the abuse of the SNAP Program, I’ll let politicians argue over that.
What I’ve learned, with a firsthand account of the diet, is that the people that live on this diet, day in and day out, are the primary cause of a health crisis in this country. These people are eating highly processed, high sodium, high carbohydrate foods that put them at serious risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Much more risk than someone who takes a balanced approach to their everyday diet.
A lot of these people are already in a compromised economic position in which they don’t have health insurance, they don’t get preventive health check-ups, and their primary care physician ends up being the emergency room doctor, which is exponentially more expensive than a standard doctor visit.
It’s not a matter of “if” these people will end up in the emergency room for a legitimate health concern, it is absolutely a question of “when”.
My diet over those seven days consisted of mostly canned foods, rice, pasta, beans, and bread. Over the week, I ate over 16 grams of sodium. I consumed almost 1,000 mg more sodium per day than recommended by the American Heart Association, and without ever reaching 2,000 calories in a day, I surpassed the USDA’s recommendations for Carbohydrate intake.

Within three days I became hypertensive. My blood pressure over the week ranged from 144/103 to 156/85 to 158/94…this is from a guy who registers a 120/80 on a regular basis. I had a banana, an apple, and a yogurt every day and I tried to get vegetables in when I could. The contents of cheap, canned food overpowered any positive impact that the healthy foods were able to provide.

With over 47 million Americans on this diet, I can only suggest that we educate our populous on this epidemic and ask the Department of Food and Nutrition Services to supply a healthier option than simply handing these recipients a few nickels and saying “good luck”.
I now believe that the SNAP program should be run more like the Women, Infants, and Children program in which there are vouchers/coupons for specific foods. This may not be the ultimate answer, but it surely provides an alternative to the unhealthy lifestyle that the current program provides.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday Morning Weigh-In

This is my final weigh-in, and it turns out I've gained 0.8 pounds since yesterday. My final weight loss, after a full 7 days on the SNAP Challenge, is 2.4 pounds.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday's Video Journal

This is the very last Daily Video Journal I will be doing for the SNAP Challenge. It's over. Thank you guys for watching and tune in for the report I will have next week.

Sunday Lunchtime

My last lunch on the SNAP Challenge. I would be lying if I said I'm going to miss it.

Sunday Morning Weigh-In

Here's the weigh-in for my final day. I've lost 3.2 pounds in 6 days. I'll post a weigh-in tomorrow morning to get a final tally for the entire week.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Saturday Video Journal

Here's my Saturday Night Daily SNAP Challenge Video Journal. Enjoy!

Sunday's Cost Breakdown

Here's the cost breakdown for the food I'll be consuming on my last day of the SNAP Challenge, Sunday.

Breakfast: $0.45
Snack: $0.39
Lunch: $1.09
Dinner: $0.66

Total: $2.59

That breaks down to 728 Calories, 4g Fat, 137g Carbs, 33g Sugar, 21g Protein, 625mg Sodium per dollar consumed.

As the week went on I continued to get better value for my dollar as far as nutritional values are concerned. This seems to be the best out of the week. All I'm going to say is, I can't wait for breakfast in the morning.

This has been a pleasure reporting all of this data and I assure you guys that I'll be compiling a cumulative report about all the nutritional values and cost breakdowns early next week. Thank you guys for reading, it's been an interesting week.