HOUSTON -

Houston Mayor Annise Parker says she’ll join millions of low-income families and live on $4 a day for meals.

Nearly 785,000 people in southeast Texas turn to SNAP, formerly called food stamps, to help them put food on the table.

SNAP is a federal program that helps individuals and families purchase nutritious food from local grocery stores.

Mayor Parker and Houston Food Bank President/CEO Brian Greene are taking the SNAP Challenge and are encouraging others to join them.

The current average SNAP budget is $4 a day for an individual or $28 a week.

“To fully understand the challenge that some people - too many people - in our community face in trying to feed themselves and their families with the limited funds provided by SNAP, we should walk a mile in their shoes,” says Greene. “Taking the Food Stamp Challenge will open many people’s eyes to how difficult it is to get adequate, nourishing sustenance with so little money, and drive home that we must continue to fund this important program.”

“Houston is a rich and prosperous community,” said Mayor Parker. “That is why it is surprising to learn that there are so many people who aren’t able to provide food for their families. I agreed to take the SNAP Challenge to help raise awareness of the problem because this is not about living high on the hog; it is about providing nutritious food for families and children in need. I encourage others to join in and experience the difficulties others in our community face daily.”

Guidelines for participating in the Food Stamp Challenge are:

1. Each person should spend no more than a total of $28 on food and beverages during the Challenge week.
2. All food purchased and eaten during the Challenge week, including fast food and dining out, must be included in the total spending.
3. During the Challenge, only eat food that you purchase for the project. Do not eat food that you already own (this does not include spices and condiments).
4. You may not accept free food from friends, family, or at work, including at receptions, meetings or parties.
5. Keep track of receipts on food spending, and take note of your experiences throughout the Challenge week.

For those who decide to take the challenge, Houston Food Bank welcomes posts on their official Facebook page and Tweets using the hashtag #SNAPChallenge.