The Food Stamp Challenge
Four members of Congress, Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Jo-Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), and Janice Schakowsky (D-Ill) are going to spend the next week living on $21.00. That is the amount the average person on Food Stamps gets per week. That’s three dollars a day. One dollar a meal.
Let that sink in.
One dollar per meal.
The Washington Post has an article about their efforts. McGovern is quoted saying:
"No organic foods, no fresh vegetables, we were looking for the cheapest of everything. We got spaghetti and hamburger meat that was high in fat -- the fattiest meat on the shelf. I have high cholesterol and always try to get the leanest, but it's expensive. It's almost impossible to make healthy choices on a food stamp diet."
No shit. It is no coincidence that the poorest Americans are the ones most likely to be obese, or suffer diet related health problems. We have all been following the Melamine story and trying to make choices that include local or organic food, but how about if you had $1.00 per meal? Impossible.
I urge you to read the article, and I applaud these four Representatives for bringing the issue to light in this fashion. I find it disappointing that only four took on the challenge, which was presented to the entire Congress to gain understanding and to get more money for the Food Stamp program written into the Farm Bill.
McGovern says it is important to get the debate going:
"We don't have to wake up worrying about the next meal. But there are a lot of Americans who do. I think it's wrong. I think it's immoral that in the U.S., the richest country in the world, people are hungry."Gee, where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, I said it.
McGovern and Ryan are blogging about their experiences here and here.
If you have time, you might ask your representative why they aren’t taking the challenge. I plan to, and mine is running for POTUS.
**UPDATE - Make sure and check out the blogs - a couple of quotes -
Lisa McGovern :
As I began cooking, separating and freezing food for the week, I began to worry that we won't have enough food to get us through Tuesday. It seems there are two ways to think of this: if we want to eat healthy food, this is like a very strict diet or a semi-fast. There is strict rationing of protein and fruits and vegetables. If we want a more satisfying portion size, the only way to do it is lots of rice, pasta or beans (but we only have 2 cans of those). And that goes against what I think of as healthy on a plate (which would be 1/4 protein, 1/4 carbs and 1/2 fruits and vegetables). But it's a long time until Tuesday and we have a limited amount of the "good" stuff so we're doling it out carefully.
Tim Ryan :
My biggest concern today is running out of food before the end of the week. One loaf of bread doesn’t make as many sandwiches as you’d think, and I’m running through my cottage cheese pretty fast as well. The budgeting was hard enough, rationing what I do have will present another challenge.