What is the SNAP Experience?

The SNAP Experience raises awareness in the community about the benefits of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in vulnerable households, as well as the challenges of eating a healthy diet on a limited budget. 

There are two rules that participants must follow:

  1. Spend no more than $4 per day
  2. Decline free food and beverages, e.g. no sponsored lunch or dinner meals

Participants will share their meals and experience via blog posts and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). Anyone is welcome to join in on the seven-day challenge that will run from September 14 through September 21, 2017.

How to Participate

The SNAP Experience is a great way to help Three Square and the Food Bank of Northern Nevada raise awareness across the state of Nevada. Pledge your commitment to help bring attention to the benefits of SNAP by registering below.



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Share Your Experience

You can share your experience on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or on your personal blog. Over the course of seven days, we encourage you to publish at least three public posts with the hashtag #snapexp. Below you will find several blog and social media posts shared by previous participants, as well as a list of topic ideas:

  • The foods you bought along with a receipt of your purchases
  • The food item that was your "splurge"
  • Healthy foods that you usually purchase/consume, but could not afford
  • The estimated amount of time needed to plan meals
  • Strategies for stretching your food supply
  • Revelations you had as a result of the experience

Past Participants

Click the links below to see examples of blog and social media posts by previous SNAP Experience participants.

Day One of SNAP Experience Week: Forrest Griffin

By: Forrest Griffin, UFC Hall of Famer
January 27, 2014

Forrest Griffin SNAP Experience Three Square 2014I went shopping for the first couple days of the week and I’ve already spent $13.20 on food. The biggest problem is that I will be out of the most important portion of my diet: the protein in my tuna. Another problem is that the tuna costs $1.80. I have to look into an alternative source of protein. I really started to feel the financial pinch when I wanted to buy a big bag of green apples to eat as snacks between meals, but they were more expensive than I remember.

My plan is to mix a half can of tuna with a package of Ramen and mix the other half of the can of tuna with mac and cheese. I know, I should have been a chef. Actually, I did a bit of cooking in my younger years. I planned these two tuna meals so that I wouldn’t have to leave an open can of tuna in the fridge overnight. They are simple, but they are not nutritionally bad unless you take into account the sodium.

So far, oatmeal and eggs seem to carry the most bang for my buck. Calculating the prices brought back less than fond memories of walking through the grocery store with a calculator at night so no one would see me struggling to do simple math in the grocery aisles. As an aside, I’m hoping there is a separate coffee and beer budget. Another issue is that Las Vegas tap water is horrible and there is no money in the food budget for bottles of water. I have a fancy water purifier, but I doubt the people on SNAP do.

Day Two of the SNAP Experience: Mayor Carolyn Goodman

By: Carolyn Goodman, Mayor of Las Vegas
January 28, 2014

mayor carolyn goodman snap experience 2014 three square las vegas
It is interesting how one can take going out to eat for granted. The last two days I have been taking part in the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) Experience, and it has been eye-opening. With only $18.20 to spend on food this week, going out to eat is out of the question.

Yesterday, I had a lunch meeting at Triple George, and while those I was meeting with enjoyed mahi-mahi, I had an egg salad sandwich I had brought from home. Today, my staff went to Pizza Rock to celebrate my scheduler Cheryl Russo’s birthday. While they had delicious looking pizza and meatballs, I had to satisfy myself with peanut butter and jelly on wheat bread.

The good thing for me is that after Friday I can once again go to my favorite restaurants and enjoy all the great food that Las Vegas is known for. Unfortunately, those who are on the SNAP program do not have that option, and that realization is really what this program is all about. More than 300,000 people rely on this meager amount of money to feed themselves in our state, and that is very sobering.

I can’t wait to get home tonight and enjoy my omelet and side salad.

Days Three and Four of the SNAP Experience: Brian Burton

By: Brian Burton, President & CEO of Three Square
January 29 and 30, 2014

Things are getting serious now. Last night I was at the gym and a stranger walked up to me and asked, “Are you OK?” Clearly my SNAP experience is not helping the appeal factor. Indeed, I felt weak last night (not enough calories). My trainer said the color in my face was different (uh oh, think Morgan Spurlock on Supersize Me, who turned gray eating fast food for 30 days straight).

I’m very grateful that, for me, this strange and limiting “diet” only lasts ONE more day. I can tell how this has affected my mental alertness, energy level and overall sense of being healthy and upbeat.

When I realize that 1 out of 7 Americans will not get to end their SNAP experience tomorrow, my heart is filled with empathy and compassion. I have literally tasted one small bit of their existence, and my head bows with respect for their fortitude, sacrifice and overcoming spirit.

We are grateful to the vast coalition of friends and advocates who engage in Three Square’s mission. Because you care, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a new Farm Bill yesterday, after 15 months of delay. This means, for Nevadans, that SNAP benefits will not likely become even more meager in the next five years. Thank you to our state’s congressional delegation who cast votes of conviction yesterday.

Please lend a word of encouragement to our mayors, media members, celebrities and all those who are winding down this SNAP experience. As nearly everyone has said, it has been eye-opening and will not leave my memory for years to come.

- Brian

Menu Planning and Shopping

  • Cooking Matters: Part of Share our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign, Cooking Matters offers healthy recipes as well as tips for shopping on a budget
  • Good and Cheap: A free e-cookbook with a variety of recipes that are designed to fit the budgets of people living on SNAP benefits
  • SNAP Challenge Menu: This menu offers two meal plans for the week along with their daily cost
  • Farmers Markets: In addition to shopping at your neighborhood grocery store, farmers markets are also an excellent resource for fresh, nutritious produce. Many of these markets now accept SNAP/EBT. Locate a farmers market near you by visiting Get Healthy Clark County or Nevada Grown

SNAP Experience FAQs

Are there foods that cannot be purchased with SNAP benefits?

Yes. Avoid consuming products that cannot be purchased with SNAP benefits during your seven-day experience.

  • "Hot" prepared foods (e.g. rotisserie chickens that are fully cooked, hot and ready to eat)
  • Alcohol
  • Fast food

What if food and beverages are brought into my workplace?

Foods and beverages such as coffee, snacks, and lunches served at meetings are not allowed during the SNAP Experience Challenge.

What about bottled water and spices?

If you plan to use these items, their cost must be included in your budget.

Must I spend $4 per day on food?

You don't have to spend $4 on food every day. However, the total amount you spend for the week must be no greater than $28.