Mayor of Newark, New Jersey to Live on Food Stamps (for one week)

A Mayor’s call for attention, for protest, for solidarity:

Newark Mayor Cory Booker rescued a neighbor from a burning building, invited Hurricane Sandy victims to his home, and rushed to the aid of a pedestrian hit by a car. Now he’s going to live on a food stamp budget for a week in solidarity with Americans who feed their families on the government assistance program.

The mayor’s office has yet to announce the full details of his plan, but the budget should amount to about $4.44 a day for food, based on data from the United States Department of Agriculture.

As of fiscal year 2011, average monthly food stamp benefits in New Jersey totaled $133.26 per person.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton underwent the same experiment in September, on a budget of $4.16 a day and kept a daily journal on Facebook. Here’s part of his entry from Day 4.

So I’m surviving on an apple and handful of peanuts, and the coffee I took to the office until dinner. I’m tired, and it’s hard to focus. I can’t go buy a sandwich because that would be cheating – even the dollar menu at Taco Bell is cheating. You can’t use SNAP benefits at any restaurants, fast food or otherwise. I’m facing a long, hungry day and an even longer night getting dinner on the table, which requires making EVERYTHING from scratch on this budget. It’s only for a week, so I’ve got a decent attitude. If I were doing this with no end in sight, I probably wouldn’t be so pleasant.

Booker plans to live off the food stamp budget for a week, starting Tuesday, December 4, and he will document the experience on TwitterLinkedIn and Facebook. He signed on to the project after a back-and-forth conversation with Twitter user @MWadeNC.

Some of his tweets:

We have a shared responsibility that kids go to school nutritionally ready 2 learn RT @MWadeNC nutrition is not responsibility of the gov’t

RT @MWadeNC why is there a family today that is “too poor to afford breakfast”? are they not already receiving food stamps?

Lets you and I try to live on food stamps in New Jersey (high cost of living) and feed a family for a week or month. U game?@MWadeNC

The mayor is now using the Twitter hashtag #SNAPChallenge to promote the project, after the official name for food stamps — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

More than one in seven Americans receive food stamps.

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