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In The Bank

Posted on Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

By Laura Carrano, Food Bank Intern

On November 21, The Food Bank’s  Food for Today workshop was given for the first time at UMass Amherst. This role-play activity is a creative and interactive way to spread knowledge about food insecurity among students.  Eleven students participated in te workshop, which involves a game, or simulation, in which participants are each randomly assigned particular character with an income level and a unique household situation.

Over a two-hour period, participants experience a simulated three-day period. Each day presented different scenarios which influenced how much money they had to spend each day. Some characters had families to feed while others were elders who had to feed themselves while having to deal with medical expenses. The students were able to choose between a grocery store, farmer’s market, or a convenient store to shop at, each with differing prices which determined where they could shop. The characters who qualified for food assistance had the option of visiting a food pantry, or using WIC or SNAP (food stamps).

Once the simulation concluded, our education coordinator, Molly, sat down and conducted an open discussion with the students. Some  whose characters  had large families articulated the difficulty acquiring food and supplies (diapers, formula, etc.) with the small budget they were allotted. Others who played senior citizens said they struggled with health conditions which made their money supply fluctuate and their food budget uncertain.

All-in-all this game was a success at UMass Amherst, and provoked interesting discussions among students. They were able to realize the hardships that many go through each day in order to feed themselves or families. I’m excited about getting the chance to help organize and run future Food for Today workshops so more people will be exposed to the challenges many people in our community face every day.

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