Matthew’s SNAP Challenge Introduction

Today’s post is the first in a series written by a dietetic intern working with us over the past month. As part of their internship experiences, I like to have them do a SNAP Challenge to better understand the experiences of people trying to eat smart on a tight budget. ~Austin

My name is Matthew D’Aria. I am a dietetic intern from Meredith College. I did my undergraduate and graduate work at Virginia Tech within the Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise department. My interest in the field of dietetics is to work with overweight/obese children and their caretakers. I want to help them reach a happy and healthy lifestyle together.

Playing with pasta

My love for food stems from my Italian heritage.

I am about to attempt to eat on an average SNAP budget for one week. I will try to only spend $43.10 on groceries, the maximum allotment for a college-aged male. I will also be taking advantage of the doubling program at the farmers market for a total of $20 of extra matching funds.  

I look forward to this challenge because I can only imagine how difficult it can be to plan meals on such a tight budget. This experience will help influence my practice as a registered dietitian, allowing me to have first-hand experience of the challenges of living on SNAP benefits, which will help me connect with potential future clients. One strategy I plan to use is to eat mindfully. Mindful eating is the practice of paying attention to your body and the sight, smell, taste, and pleasure of food when eating. This will help me feel satisfied and not focus on the fact that I am eating less than I usually do.

I have never been on SNAP benefits before and I have never had to pay much attention to sticking to a budget or plan my meals. I do not expect this to be easy for me because I am not use to having restrictions on the amount of food I can buy and eat. With my busy schedule as a dietetic intern, I plan to prep ahead as much as possible. With that said, tonight I will be making overnight oatmeal so I can have breakfast ready to go in the morning. Unfortunately, it’s getting late now, so I may have to wait until tomorrow to get started on the rest.

2 thoughts on “Matthew’s SNAP Challenge Introduction

  1. Jonathan D

    Helping college students learn to live healthy on SNAP is definitely important. I think it really helps to just see examples of eating healthy on a low budget (and not just for college students).

    1. Austin Brooks Post author

      I agree, Jonathan. There is a perception that eating healthy is too expensive. As these SNAP challenges show, healthy eating on a budget is doable, but it takes a lot of planning and basic nutrition knowledge. Our dietetic interns get their knowledge and skills in their college courses and programs like ours help get the meal planning skills and nutrition education to SNAP recipients in the community.


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