Food Politics + Justice

Published on December 11th, 2012 | by Becky Striepe


Mayor Cory Booker’s Food Stamp Experiment

Cory Booker Foodstamp Challenge

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

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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .

3 Responses to Mayor Cory Booker’s Food Stamp Experiment

  1. I do not think that Booker’s food stamps experiment is, as you call it, “a political stunt”, but is actually more of an educational opportunity. How often does the mainstream media ever discuss how very little a person getting food aid actually lives on each week? Enabling this kind of public discussion and exposure is most powerful and constructive.

  2. Pingback: Weighing In On Marion Nestle’s 2013 Food Politics Predictions [Part 2] | Eat Drink Better

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