Newark, New Jersey mayor Cory Booker spent one week living on food stamps to raise awareness about food justice.
Booker hinted at the end of his food stamp week that he would be running for governor, so this was clearly a political stunt, but I don’t think that negates the message: feeding yourself on food stamps is not easy. We hear a lot about how social safety net programs like food stamps – officially called SNAP - are “entitlements,” but from Booker’s accounts of his week, living on $4 per day – a typical food stamp budget – is far from the luxury that some politicians would like you to believe.
Here’s an interview with the mayor on day three of his food stamp challenge:
He not only talks about the hardship of such a limited food budget but touches on another problem facing our nation’s poor: food deserts. A food desert is an area with little to no access to fresh food. Maybe there’s a gas station or a convenience store where you can get limited items, but a proper grocery store that carries fresh food is a hike. For someone who can barely afford food and has no car, making the trek to the grocery store is a serious hardship, especially in areas with poor public transportation options.
This isn’t the first time a politician has lived on a food stamp budget to raise awareness. In November 2011, Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge lived on the SNAP budget for a week. She said she basically spent the whole week hungry.
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Kars4kids