(Photo: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz)
Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker has accepted a challenge from a Twitter follower to live off food stamps for seven days. He will begin the challenge on Monday, Dec. 3, and continue until the following Sunday.
The North Carolina woman who goes by the Twitter handle of @MWadeNC is not on the government program but has indicated she will undertake the same challenge on another week. Her identity has now been revealed because she has received death threats over the issue. Both the New Jersey city mayor and the woman will be limited to spending $1.40 per three daily meals.
However, the woman did express her frustration over Booker's acceptance since he didn't consult with her before he publicly accepted the challenge. She has not heard from him or his staff.
"I don't think it's fair to be challenged and just find out from the Internet when I'm supposed to take part," she said in a telephone interview. "I would have appreciated the consideration that I have a life as well."
Booker is not the first elected official to announce they would live on the minimum food limits provided by the government. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Rep. Bob Brady (D- Pa.) performed a similar exercise earlier this year.
The Greater Philadelphia Food Stamp Challenge was held from April 23 to 29. Elected officials, journalists and about 130 community activists committed to spending no more than $5 on food per day.
"Before I participated in this challenge, I felt I was well informed about the hardships faced by those who need food stamps, but this challenge has really brought home the day-to-day struggle that 46 million Americans face," said Brady in a comment released after he completed the challenge. We in Congress must do all in our power to protect the SNAP program from these harmful cuts."
The food stamp program, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is the nation's largest domestic food and nutrition assistance program for low-income Americans.
According to the USDA website, to be eligible for the program, households can have $2,000 in countable resources, such as a bank account, or $3,250 in countable resources if at least one person is age 60 or older, or is disabled.
In addition, a household of four can have a gross monthly income of $2,498. There are other factors taken into consideration to determine the exact amount an individual or family can receive.
Foods eligible for purchase under the program include breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, and daily products. Products ineligible include beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, non-food items such as pet foods, soaps, household supplies, vitamins, foods that can be eaten in the store and medicines.
As Mayor of Newark, Booker's salary is approximately $13,400 per month.