SNAP Experience

Hunger in Arizona

  • Arizona ranks number 14 in the country for households who suffer from food hardship*.
  • More than 1 in 5 Arizona households struggle with hunger.
  • 2010 Congressional District 4 (which includes Phoenix) ranked 6th in the nation for food hardship.
  • In 2010, 29% of Arizona households with children experienced food hardship, indicating that 1 in 4 children struggle with hunger
  • Arizona is ranked 7th in the country, tied with Louisiana, for food hardship rates for households with children.

*Food hardship is defined as not having enough money to buy groceries for the previous 12 months.

What is the Arizona SNAP Experience?

In July 2013, over 1.1 MILLION households in Arizona received SNAP, known in Arizona as Nutrition Assistance (food stamps). SNAP is meant to supplement a household’s food budget to help families put nutritious food on the table. Unfortunately, many families struggle to stretch their benefits to the end of the month, and some are forced to visit food pantries or experience food insecurity.

ACAA’s Arizona SNAP Experience is a 7-day period, September 3-9, 2013, during which participants will limit their total food purchases to the weekly budget of a typical SNAP participant. The goal of the Experience is to increase awareness around poverty and hunger in Arizona by facilitating a meaningful personal experience for participants and drawing media attention to the hardships faced by food stamp users. While this Experience cannot give participants a true sense of living in deep or prolonged poverty, it can provide insight into some of the challenges families confront while receiving Nutrition Assistance in Arizona.

What is the amount of the SNAP Experience food budget and how did you decide on that amount?

In July 2013, the average individual on SNAP in Arizona received $28.92 in SNAP benefits per week, amounting to $4.14 per day or $1.37 per meal. For simplicity, participants in the Experience are allowed a food budget of $29 for the seven days of the Experience.

For households larger than 1, SNAP benefits increase depending upon the household size. Please see the Household SNAP Budget link for more information.

SNAP isn’t intended to cover my full food budget for the month. Can I spend additional money?

In many cases, competing priorities of utilities, rent, child care and medical expenses prevent Arizonans from spending out-of-pocket monies on additional food. For these SNAP participants, $29.14 a week for food is the often insufficient reality. The SNAP Experience aims to provide as accurate a portrayal of the experience of living with SNAP benefits as possible. We recognize that SNAP is intended to supplement the monthly food budget (thus the federal name Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Although we know that many households rely solely on their SNAP benefits to purchase food, calculations of food costs and average food consumption per person show us that SNAP benefits could only reasonably cover about 70% of the average person’s food costs each month.

We encourage all participants in the Experience to use only the $29 allotted to pay for all their food costs for the week of the Experience. However, Experience participants can choose to supplement the $29 budget with a maximum of $12 more to use as they please for food purchases not typically permitted on SNAP (hot and prepared meals or disallowed purchases such as alcohol products, for example). Experience participants who choose this option are asked to not exceed $41 in total weekly expenses, and to track how the additional $12 is spent.

For households of more than one, please refer to the Household SNAP Budget link.

How can I participate in the Arizona SNAP Experience?

  1. Register for the SNAP Experience by August 30, 2013 at Please register for one or all options of the SNAP Experience that you are willing to participate in. The four options are: to participate in the SNAP Experience, to participate in the SNAP Experience and utilize the additional $12, to participate in SNAP Experience media events, and to participate in  ACAA’s SNAP Experience social media (blogs, facebook, twitter). Then check your e-mail for blogging information and resources to help you budget your week and stretch your food dollar!
  2. Purchase food and beverages using your Experience budget during the week of September 3-9, 2013. See SNAP Food Guidelines for purchasing foods. We also encourage participants to try to maintain a healthy diet. Please see  MyPlate on a SNAP budget link for nutritional guidelines.
  3. Record spending on the Budget Sheet. All food purchased and eaten during the Experience, including food not permitted to be purchased with your benefit and dining out, must be included in the total spending.
  4. Eat only food you purchase for the project:
    1. Avoid consuming food that you already own (this does not include spices or condiments).
    2. Avoid accepting free food from family, friends, or at work or social gatherings.
    3. Contribute to the blog by sending entries to  See the Blog Prompts for ideas on how you can contribute.
    4. Spread the word about your experience and post pictures on your Twitter and Facebook accounts! For twitter, tag @azcaa in your tweets.
    5. Contact Congress! House Republican leadership is planning to introduce a bill in September to cut SNAP by $40 billion and cut nearly 150,000 Arizonans off SNAP. For more information please view the link below entitled: Action Needed-Contact Congress!

social media and blogging tips

Action Needed-Contact Congress!

SNAP Facts

SNAP Food Guidelines

Household SNAP Budget

SNAP Facts

Resources for a healthy diet on a SNAP Budget


My foods. My fitness. My health.

-Get your personalized nutrition and physical activity plan.
-Track your foods and physical activities to see how they stack up.
-Get tips and support to help you make healthier choices and plan ahead.

SuperTracker can help you plan, analyze, and track your diet and physical activity.


Eating Better on A Budget

Eat Right When the Money is Tight

SNAP Recipe Finder