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Ervin to End Food Stamp Challenge Friday in Silver Spring

Participants in a 5-day "SNAP the Silence" challenge to eat on just $5 a day will share their experiences in downtown Silver Spring Friday evening.

"On 3rd day living off $5.00 a day. Woke up with small hunger pain at 4:30 this morning. Craving for food."

"I was already in touch with the devastation of hunger but to actually experience the dizziness, lethargy, inability to focus and concentrate that our clients experience was a rude awakening."

Two of the experiences participants in the "SNAP the Silence" challenge have shared on Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin's Facebook page promoting the program

Ervin's initiative challenged people in Montgomery County to try and feed themselves on just $5 a day for five days, or the average food allotment for people on food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), in hopes of bringing attention to a growing number of hungry people in the county.

As of last October, 65,200 people in Montgomery County participated in the SNAP program, according to a release from the County Council. 

SNAP challenge participants, including Councilmember Ervin (D-Silver Spring), will share their experiences and discuss new ways to fight hunger Friday in Silver Spring at the Civic Building from 6 to 8 p.m. 

"I am looking forward to sharing my experience and hearing everyone’s personal stories on Friday evening, but this is just the beginning," said Ervin. 

“The goal is to turn this heightened awareness about poverty in Montgomery County into action for our neediest residents...This challenge has demonstrated to all of us that we have more work to do."

County leaders, including Council President Nancy Navarro, Council Vice-President Craig Rice, Councilmember Nancy Floreen, Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr and Board of Education President Christopher Barclay, gathered at a Giant grocery store in Rockville to shop for the week on Monday, WTOP reports, where some were especially challenged.

Barclay, who has diabetes, and Floreen, who is a breast cancer survivor, said they had trouble affording the fruits and vegetables needed for their health on the budget.

According to the Washington Post, some in Montgomery County who receive SNAP benefits were offended by the challenge. A 60-year-old woman standing in a food line in the Long Branch neighborhood of Silver Spring said the program was "cavalier."

"It demonstrates a lack of understanding of what this about ... I don’t know what they expected to come out of it. To prove that it’s possible?" she told the Post.

Still, leaders said it could bring much-needed attention to an issue that people may not know exists.

"Yes, we're the economic engine of the state, but we also have needs and we need to come together and address them," said Navarro. 

What do you think of the SNAP Challenge? Tell us in the comments.

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