Newark Mayor Cory Booker is joining the ranks of the millions of people who use food stamps to pay for their groceries — at least for a week. This past Sunday, Booker challenged one of his Twitter followers, a 39-year-old mother from North Carolina, to join him on a seven-day food stamp experiment. The challenge came after a back-and-forth discussion following a tweet by Booker that said: ‘An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics’ Plutarch ancient Greek historian (c. 46 – 120 CE),” reports UPI. The follower, who is a self-described “Daughter of the American Revolution (DAR), fighting against any and all forms of socialism/communism,” took issue with the tweet.
The University of Bridgeport, which is holding the “UB SNAP Food Challenge” next month, offered to referee the Booker challenge, which will happen December 4 through 11. Booker plans to document his efforts on various social media platforms. According to the rules, reports BET, it has been stipulated that each person has a total budget of $35 to spend on food and beverages, which is $5 per day or $1.66 per meal. They also can’t accept food from outside sources, such as family, friends and work, and cannot use food that’s already in the home, excluding condiments and spices.
It has been estimated that there is a likelihood that half of all adult Americans between the ages of 20 and 65 will use food assistance at some point. Today a record number of people — nearly 50 million – will use food stamps to pay for their Thanksgiving dinners. According to United States Department of Agriculture data, 36 percent of participants in the food stamp program are white, 22 percent are African American, 10 percent are Hispanic, two percent are Asian, four percent are Native American, and 19 percent are of unknown race or ethnicity.
Typically, food stamp recipients get $133 a month per person. Besides holiday meals, many recipients are using their stamps typically to purchase foods with poor nutritional value. The federal food assistance program SNAP pays $1.7 billion to $2.1 billion for purchases of sugar-sweetened beverages every year, reports The Los Angeles Times. But the government doesn’t reveal details on what people spend their food stamps, notes the Washington Post. Food stamps can be spent on goods ranging from candy to steak, says the newspaper.
While we don’t know what Booker will buy with his stamps, we do know this seems to be another move by Booker to take a hands-on approach to governing. You may recall that during Hurricane Sandy the Mayor invited people without power over to his house. Mayor Booker’s hands-on approach was actually greeted with boos and a near pepper spraying last night when he stepped in to cast a vote to fill a city council spot with someone that other members and people in attendance didn’t agree with. You can watch the mayhem below (h/t Slate).