Elected Officials Attempt Living On Food Stamps

Jackie Spier is discovering how difficult it is to shop and buy food on just over $32.00 per week. She and seven other Congressional Democrats have taken the Food Stamp Challenge, where they commit to planning and buying food under the same limits as food stamp recipients. This year, more than others, it's a very big deal since Rep. Paul Ryan and his cohorts seem to think they can slash funding to the SNAP program and people will still be able to survive.

How are they doing so far? The Hill:

“Day 2 of #foodstampchallenge so I can't drink Joe's coffee,” Lee tweeted Friday before her appearance on the MSNBC show "Morning Joe." “Had peanut butter and crackers for breakfast.”

Schakowsky has taken to Twitter, as well, seeking suggestions for nutritious meals under $1.50, the average limit per food stamp meal. She said she is also keeping a diary of everything she ate and will post it at week’s end.

Her followers tweeted suggestions ranging from wholegrain pasta and chickpeas to a peanut butter-and-banana sandwich.

Del. Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands) — who is also participating in the challenge — said she checked grocery store prices and found the challenge would be harder than expected.

“Ok this #foodstampchallenge is going to [be] really hard.,” Christensen tweeted Thursday. “Checked prices in Safeway and so easy to blow the whole week's allotment.”

Huffington Post:

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) along with eight other congressional Democrats are eating on a budget of about $4.50 a day to show solidarity with food stamp recipients who receive $32.59 a week.

The personal thrift, which is part of a challenge organized by Fighting Poverty With Faith, was reported by Pacifica Patch. The site also listed the food items that Speier was now buying.

Speier displayed some of the items she was able to purchase for her first day of living on a food stamp budget: a bag of coffee and a loaf of bread from the Dollar Warehouse; a can of Campbell's low sodium chicken noodle soup; and a can of sweet peas, possibly to put in a tuna casserole later in the week."And this is my treat for the week," Speier said, holding up a box of microwave popcorn packets.

Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), along with his wife and daughter, chose to live on a food stamp budget of about $1.59 per meal. He tweeted about the challenge, relaying that he ate "generic cereal and part of a banana for breakfast."

Rep. Joe Courtney, via the Hartford Courant:

Toward the end of Rep. Joe Courtney's week-long SNAP Challenge, during which he and his family — including wife, Audrey, and teenage daughter, Elizabeth —- lived on just over $32 a week apiece, the pickings were slim. For his last meal of the week, Courtney had leftover spaghetti with a little cheese sprinkled on the top.

So Thursday, the first day back on his regular diet, Courtney was acutely aware of the $4.25 bowl of chili he ordered from his Washington, D.C., cafeteria.

This effort is particularly poignant as I begin my annual task of picking through some FEC and IRS disclosures for different Republican organizations. Eric Cantor, for example, spent $365.00 on one meal in New York in September. That's one meal, equal to roughly ten times what SNAP recipients can spend in a week. On August 4th, he spent $370.00 in Washington DC for one meal. Those were not fundraisers. They were simply meals.

Eric Cantor has repeatedly voted to reduce SNAP allotments. Senator Jeff Sessions' PAC spent over $1,800 on meals in August. Not fundraisers. Meals. You may recall Sessions as the one who was so concerned over waste, fraud and abuse in the SNAP program that he wanted even more cuts to it along with assorted other hoops to jump through.

It's good to see some elected officials learning to live on what's allocated under SNAP. Unfortunately, it's not the ones who could really benefit from the learning experience, but at least some can testify.


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