Members of Congress Try Living on Food Stamps


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — A common complaint against those in Washington is that they end up losing touch with ordinary Americans once elected to office, but a few representatives recently bucked that phenomenon and tried living on food stamps for an entire week.

Several Democrats in the House of Representatives, including representatives Jackie Speier from California and Joe Courtney from Connecticut, signed up for the food stamp challenge last month, which entails spending just $32.59 on food over the course of an entire week to raise awareness for the many American households that live in poverty.

Courtney undertook the challenge with his wife Audrey, and each pledged to spend no more than $1.59 per meal. To make that work, the couple ended up living on a frugal mix of cereals, soups and cheese sandwiches, according to a daily log of their meals published on the website of Fighting Poverty With Faith, an interfaith group that called for members of Congress to take the challenge back in September.

On the first day of the challenge, the couple each had a bowl of cereal for breakfast, an egg salad for lunch and one black bean enchilada for dinner. In the following days, Courtney and his wife ate their fair share of cheese sandwiches, muffin mix and plenty of cereal. They shopped at discount grocery stores like Aldi and hunted down bargain-priced foods like fruits for 79 cents a pound.

“Things are going well,” Courtney wrote on Oct. 23, the third-to-last-day of the challenge. “We are a little hungry, and we definitely always look forward to the next meal.”

Speier started her challenge just this week, but she has already expressed just how difficult it is on her Twitter account, as seen in the tweet below.

Jackie Speier Tweet


On her first full day of the challenge, Speier said she lived on an assortment of eggs and fruit with a half can of chili and some instant coffee thrown in for good measure, a combination she referred to simply as “Yuck.”

It remains to be seen if she’ll make it through the competition as Courtney did, but either way, it shines a light on the struggles that more than 45 million Americans go through every day to put food on the table with what little money and government assistance they have.

(Hat tip to the HuffingtonPost)

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