December 4th, 2012
10:11 AM ET
2 years ago

Cory Booker spending week on food stamps

(CNN) – Hoping to break any stigmas of government assistance, Newark Mayor Cory Booker of New Jersey will live on food stamps this week–a challenge that first began as a Twitter conversation.

The Democratic mayor will operate on a food stamp budget of about $30 a week ($4.32 per day), roughly the same amount provided to people in New Jersey who take part in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

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Booker, who's considered a potential gubernatorial candidate in New Jersey's 2013 race, vowed to go on the budget after getting into a debate last month with a Twitter user, who argued "nutrition is not the responsibility of the government."

"In my own quest to better understand the outcomes of SNAP assistance, I suggested to this specific Twitter user that we both live on a SNAP equivalent food budget for a week and document our experience," Booker wrote in a blog post Monday.

To promote the experiment, Booker, who's known for his frequent Twitter posts, will use the hashtag "#SNAPChallenge."

More than 47 million Americans used SNAP benefits in August, according to the latest monthly data available. In New Jersey, 787,460 participated that month.

Those using the benefits are allowed to purchase breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, and dairy products. They are not permitted to buy alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, hot food and any food sold for on-premises consumption.

The Department of Agriculture, which administers the program, also states that soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack crackers, and ice cream count as food items and are therefore eligible items. The list also includes seafood, steak, and bakery cakes.


Filed under: 2013 • Cory Booker • New Jersey
soundoff (199 Responses)
  1. jules

    I get $30.00 a month in SNAP money. I love alone with no one else contributing to food. The $30.00 pays for 10 frozen dinners @$3.00 each which means 1 meal a day for 10 days. My point is that what I get is not much but I'm not complaining . I'm just greatfull that I have that

    December 4, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. Mark

    @divorced and disabled: Why are you griping about grapes? Bananas cost 19 cents a piece, apples are in season for $2.00 for 3 lb bag.

    December 4, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. Eric

    @Lord Toronaga – The cap on mortgage deduction is $1,000,000 for a married couple not 500,000. The middle class benefits very little from this deduction because they generally only get a small additional benefit over the standard deduction.

    So, I am all for the Democrats taking away this deduction. I will lose out, but I really don't care for the government subsidizing my lifestyle. If we must compromise, cut the cap to $250,000 or so. Folks who are rich will lose out as will people who live in high cost areas, but I am against subsidizing able bodied people in general, myself included.

    December 4, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  4. hlbj

    not going to make it this is the new milleium and 4.00 a day can't feed unicef or an american or any humaning being on earth any more wake up times have changed even a loaf of bread cost 2 dollars and thats a sandwich with 2 pieces of bread for about one week and that is stretching it the loaves are shorter

    good luck

    he want make it he must not have any medical issues involved cause a diabetic would starve or barely make it

    December 4, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  5. lotusflower1104

    They are going to lose weight. LOL They will see that it is not that easy to live on that amount per day/week. Cant wait for the outcome.

    December 4, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  6. lotusflower1104

    They are both going to lose a lot of weight. They will find out that it is impossible to eat off of that amount of money per day/month and be nutrionally healthy.

    December 4, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Eric wrote:

    @Rudy NYC – So, basically you are telling those of who ARE living off $4/day that we are the ones out of touch with reality? I can't say I've shopped in NYC. It might be much more expensive to live there and shop for food, but then why live there if you can't make ends meet? And then why insist that I subsidize someone's lifestyle because they want to live in NYC? I make six figures and eat off the budget that welfare recipients are turning their nose up to?
    --------------
    Why would people live in urban areas when they can barely afford to do so? Maybe, just maybe, because suburban areas are even more expensive and that they find rural areas impossible to live and work in because they are simply not welcome.

    Furthermore, you would be surprised to find out that 70% of the money spent on Welfare, Medicare, and Medicaid went to people who supported and voted for Mitt Romney.

    Furthermore, did it ever occur to you that some of those people do not have a kitchen, such as yours? That they live in a room, without a private bathroom, without private cooking and refrigerated food storage areas?

    Furthermore, it is wrong to judge other people by your putting yourself into their scenario, and then determining the best course of action for yourself would automatically be the best course of action for the other person. This point is easily proven by the large number of comments quoting food prices that are totally out of touch with urban living. "It's easy!"

    December 4, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  8. Yeahona

    All of congress should do this and see just what it is like for many people. Until you have walked in those shoes (and recently walked in those shoes), you have no idea what it is like for many people in our country. I would think we would want to work together and build each other up, rather than tear each other down.

    December 4, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  9. Upton

    The point of these programs is not to provide everything for a person... the point of these programs is to provide additional assistance to people.

    The government is not supposed to be an institution that provides everything for everyone.

    December 4, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  10. NameMary

    I want to know what cities these people live in that they can live off $4.00 a day

    December 4, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  11. Cacol

    If they are given $4 a day for one...then the head of household should work to repay us that $4. Why do people think they have a right to free stuff from us...becuase it takes the shape of a loaf of bread?

    December 4, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  12. buzz

    mac & cheese, PBJ

    December 4, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  13. Katherine

    My family of 4 (5 counting the baby, but he isn't included in this figure) live on $250 a month in a grocery budget. No assistance. That is $8.33 a day. $2.08 a person. It can be done, but most people don't want to live within a budget and feel entitled to large meals and "good" food. My husband and I taught ourselves to cook and we become inventive. You don't need internet to learn to cook. It's called a cookbook.

    December 4, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  14. Dan

    My family of six only spends $2.50 per person per day. That's $110 per week for the whole family, and we eat very well.
    I've seen people on food stamps getting twice that amount for a family of three. Buy in bulk, cook your own meals, avoid junk food, and cut down on meat.

    December 4, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  15. Conservative

    As the father of a family of 7 in the engineering industry, I keep impeccable financial records. We are not on food stamps and have a very adequate income. We do our shopping at discount grocery stores (including Sam's, etc) and keep a close watch on sales and buy in bulk if it all possible. Our spending for a family of 7 for the past year has averaged $713. This amounts to $3.34/person/day. We have meals of steaks, fish, etc and enjoy generous amounts of fruits and vegetables. Eating out is a luxury which we enjoy once every 4-6 weeks (yes, I pack my lunch every day for work). Skip the sodas, candy, and prepared foods and this budget is very workable. Oh yes, we even do a fair amount of entertaining which is included in that amount. Back to the Basics, Folks. It works!!!!

    December 4, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    $30.00 per month is certainly doable, but not easy. But then its not supposed to be easy. You want easy, find something that pays enough so you don't need the government to give you any money at all.

    December 4, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  17. Shaw

    I have no problem with food stamps but i work at a grocery store and i'm tired of seeing ppl on food stamps with Ray-bans and BMV keys. Maybe if we stopped the fraud we could give more than 4 dollars.

    December 4, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    Libacryte wrote:

    ChrisR – that's the point – you are NOT supposed to "live" off of 4.00/day because you are NOT supposed to "live" off of taxpayer assistance!! That is the warped mindset that folks like you have!! It should NOT be "easy" to live off of 4.00/day because struggling like that SHOULD make you want to GET OFF OF THE PROGRAM & BETTER YOURSELF!!
    -------------------
    Tell that to the unemployed veteran who is between tours of active duty. Tell that to the people in Illinois working at the plant Bain just closed up. Tell that to the workers at Hostess, who lost their jobs after the company was saddled with nearly a billion in debt after those at the type agreed to leveraged buyout by an equity firm.

    It is amazing just how clouded the false reality is that is painted by the right wing media. Climb off of the hamster wheel, that they built for you. Escape the cage that they've built for you. "The Matris" is pretty obvious once you are on the outside looking at it.

    December 4, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  19. Caleb

    Food Stamps are a supplement to help people eat. Not to totally feed them. They are a blessing, not a right. Anolther case of the entitlement mentality of a lot of Americans. I worked hard to raise four kids, was on food stamps for a little while, but we made it. I thank God for the help and have more than paid it back it taxes, and today, all my children are working and being productive citizens.

    December 4, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  20. doug

    Is this program designed to be the sole source of $$ for food or is it supposed to be a "supplemental" as the name implies?
    It must cost the government more to administer the program than it does to send 30.00 to everyone who qualifies. I am sure I would not want to have to utilize this program but on the other hand are the administrators doing an effective job making sure only the truly need get it?

    December 4, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  21. Eric

    @themanceaser – Roughly one in six Americans receive food assistance, so I'm not sure how you can claim that it is so small.

    @hlbj – Kinda funny that my household makes it.

    @NameMary – I live near Cleveland, OH. Since I answered, please let me know the city you live in where it is not possible to eat off of $4/day.

    December 4, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  22. really

    4 bucks a dav will get you about 4 pounds a day of white rice. It won't be tasty but you won't be starving. Cut the drama and exaggerqations people.

    December 4, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  23. fbrookman

    I could get by on $2 a day if I knew it only for a week. As said elsewhere here, this stunt is superficial. There is a light at the end of his tunnel and it's coming from his packed refrigerator.

    December 4, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. Name dave

    they should drug test everybody on public assistance and if you test positive for drugs you lose the assistance that would take out 75 percent of the people

    December 4, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
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