This week will begin Cory Booker, the Mayor of Newark New Jersey’s, one week Odyssey to live completely off food stamps and spend no more than $4 a day on food. Entitled the “SNAP Challenge”, the whole issue began when Booker tweeted the following quote”
in which he was met with a lot of frustrated citizens, eventually turning the argument towards government responsibility towards nutrition of the public (Slate). Arguing that the government should be held accountable for the nutrition and general well-being of its populous, Book announced on November 12 his participation in the “SNAP Challenge” the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that challenges millions of American’s to live the life of a low-income family for a week and live purely off food stamps (Food Research and Action Center). The goal is to help politicians and wealthy government officials to know first-hand what it’s like to live with a tight budget.
The woman who called out Mayor Booker goes by the name TwitWit on Twitter and mentioned in an interview the the Associated Press that she has no particular “vendetta” against food stamps. She believes that they are important. She mentioned that her family is struggling to get by as both her an her husband had been laid off. What she does question is the distribution of food stamps, namely looking at who exactly qualifies (or not) from this federal relief program ((Associated Press).
So I decided to investigate for myself who exactly qualifies for food stamps. And let me just tell you know that it’s pretty confusing. There are so many exceptions to the rules and a lot of different things that can disqualify you from receiving these benefits. For example, myself as a college student would not be elligible because I receive a federally funded loan for my education, although my measly salary of $100 a week would not support anything if I didn’t have my families support. It’s interesting to note that those disabilities and the elderly don’t have to be below a certain income level to receive food stamps (at least in California), the logic I assume is that food stamps support those without the means to support themselves with a steady job.
As TwitWit mentioned to AP, she is an army veteran, mother of two, and a wife who is perfectly capable of working a job, but simply does not have one. This begs the question if food stamps distribution should be reconsidered, especially with the particularly high unemployment rates of the past few years.