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Katie McQuaid's Scene in Manchester: $4.50-a-day eating challenge is not a 'snap'

August 19. 2013 12:38AM

I understand how fortunate I am to have a fridge full of food every day. But, a recent email from Melanie Gosselin at the New Hampshire Food Bank helped me gain a whole new perspective.

Gosselin asked me to accept the SNAP Challenge and try living on just $4.50 of food a day. That is the average daily food allowance for a recipient of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as food stamps. The average amount a New Hampshire SNAP recipient actually receives from this program is less than $4 a day, but the SNAP Challenge lets you eat a little more, assuming that real SNAP recipients are able to supplement their food budget through other income.

September is Hunger Action Month, and Gosselin will be taking her second SNAP challenge the week of Sept. 15th. She plans to share her experiences on Facebook and Twitter, and hopes others will join her, either for one day, a week or the entire month.

I don't think I could do it for one meal. I know I would eat, but what would the meal actually include? Fresh vegetables? Probably not. Processed foods with lots of ingredients I can't pronounce? Probably a lot. Believe me, I eat plenty of junk food, but that is in addition to the healthy stuff I choke down. I am pretty sure my daily "Green Monster" smoothie alone contains at least $4.50 worth of fruits and veggies.

I immediately started coming up with pathetic excuses for why I couldn't possibly participate. But why couldn't I, just for one day?

There are families all over the country who are working with difficult grocery budgets. They are doing it because it's the only choice they have.

I don't have the answers to their problems, but I hope to gain some perspective of their struggles by taking Gosselin's challenge, at least for one day.

For more information on the SNAP challenge, visit www.nhfoodbank/events/hunger-action-month.

On the bus with SNHU

It looks like a group of Southern New Hampshire University employees is having an inspirational experience traveling around the country in a tour bus meeting some of the school's campus and online students, faculty and alumni this summer.

You can read about the SNHU bus adventure and see great pictures at Some of the best anecdotes from the road are the unplanned meetings, including one with a bicyclist who turned out to be a graduate from the brick-and-mortar school when it was still known as New Hampshire College.

Filling up at the Fest

Don't forget to come out and say "Hi" at the Henniker Rotary Club's Chili Fest at Pat's Peak this Sunday. I am excited to judge this competition for the second year in a row. The best part of the event is obviously the delicious chili submitted by amateur chefs and local restaurants. I used to think chili was all the same, but when you sample dozens at the same time, you can really taste the variations.

The second best part of the competition, for me anyway, is that I get to sit down, in one place, for more than two hours while someone brings me food. Most of my meals involve standing at the counter, trying to shovel food in for the five minutes I have before one of my kids asks me for something, spills something, or injures himself. So Sunday I will feel like the Queen of England.

Chili Fest gates open at 12:30 p.m. and chili sampling will go through 3:30 p.m. or until the chili runs out. There is much more than chili to look forward to. You can see a list of activities and entertainment at

Opera in the park

Kudos to Friends of Stark Park and the group Just Love To Sing for bringing opera in the park to Manchester last week. I was able to see about half of the "Hansel and Gretel" performance before my boys started disrupting the show. It was a beautiful evening and I look forward to another performance next summer.

NH365.ORG Event of the Week

PeopleFest returns to Veterans Park Saturday. The free festival, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., is a celebration of all the cultural heritages in our city. Attendees can experience music, dance and food from around the world. The event runs in conjunction with Manchester Artist Association's Art in the Park.

For more information on this and other events in our region, visit

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