A challenge was issued and only 4 members of Congress answered. The challenge was to eat for a week on $21, the average food stamp allotment.
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) stood before the refrigerated section of the Safeway on Capitol Hill yesterday and looked longingly at the eggs.
At $1.29 for a half-dozen, he couldn't afford them.
Ryan and three other members of Congress have pledged to live for one week on $21 worth of food, the amount the average food stamp recipient receives in federal assistance. That's $3 a day or $1 a meal. They started yesterday.
What was the shopping experience like?
McGovern and his wife, Lisa, did their food shopping for the week with help from Toinette Wilson, a D.C. resident and mother of three who relies on food stamps. Wilson gave him some tips, but it was still a struggle, he said.
"No organic foods, no fresh vegetables, we were looking for the cheapest of everything," McGovern said. "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."
The WaPo article includes the lawmaker's respective blogs. Ryan, has included his receipt, and worries how he'll get through the week.
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.
Right. It's not just what you buy it's how you use it.
Mrs. McGovern has the same worries, but also make an observation:
I'm also worried about Jim. This is a challenge for me but he's bigger than I am and used to more food. Not that I'd ever say he is a big eater. But these portions are tiny. And I know there are people out there who are cynical about politicians and think the worst. But I've been married to him for nearly 18 years and I know what a demanding schedule -- physically and mentally -- he keeps. Between his job and our two small children, life is full. Food fuels people's bodies and minds.
I hope she remembers that when she finds out many of the working poor work at two or more jobs that are physically demanding.
What I really find disturbing about the Food Stamp Challenge is that only 4 members of Congress are bothering to do this. Perhaps the challenge should be mandatory so that all representatives of the people can relate to their own constituents.