Local 400 member Aneeta Singh from Giant #319 shakes hands with Councilwoman Valerie Ervin. Ervin visited the store as part of her new "SNAP the Silence about Poverty" week-long challenge to shop for daily groceries for less than $5.00. Photo by Sonny Garibay.

Monday, Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin along with other local officials headed to Giant #319 in Rockville, Md. to tackle the challenge, dubbed “SNAP the Silence about Poverty.”

“We all know how expensive it is to live in Montgomery County,” Ervin said. “What many people may not know is about the hidden poverty that exists.

“Through this Challenge, we are trying to build a sense of empathy to those who are struggling even though they may work two or three jobs just to pay their rent and put food on the table.”

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) supports those people who do not make enough money to lift them out of poverty, assisting them to provide food for themselves and their families. This Federal program qualifies individuals to purchase food to eat, or by seeds and plants to produce food for their household. For families that qualify for the SNAP program, the average daily benefit per person, according to USDA/FNS statistics, is $4.28 per day.

So far, many local officials, labor activists and community groups have signed up for the “SNAP the silence on poverty” challenge. The Challenge? To spend no more than $5 a day on food while highlighting the issues and struggles of those living in poverty on a daily basis in Montgomery County.

As a former UFCW member at Safeway, Ervin understands what having a good job can mean for a family. She has been focused on ending poverty in Montgomery County as part of her initutive as councilmember. “I know to get people out of poverty they need jobs, said Ervin. “Not just any job but a job that pays better than a living wage and a job that provides benefits.”

The average SNAP benefit per person is about $133 a month, or less than $1.50 per meal. While living on a SNAP budget for just a week will not come close to the struggles encountered by low-income working families, it will provide a new perspective and greater understanding for those who take part.

Are you willing to take the challenge? Sign on here.

Or visit the Challenge’s facebook page!