Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Four Congresspeople Live On Food Stamps

This actually was a very clever idea and I want to applaud them for doing this.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) stood before the refrigerated section of the Safeway on Capitol Hill yesterday and looked longingly at the eggs.

At $1.29 for a half-dozen, he couldn't afford them.

Ryan and three other members of Congress have pledged to live for one week on $21 worth of food, the amount the average food stamp recipient receives in federal assistance. That's $3 a day or $1 a meal. They started yesterday.

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), co-chairmen of the House Hunger Caucus, called on lawmakers to take the "Food Stamp Challenge" to raise awareness of hunger and what they say are inadequate benefits for food stamp recipients. Only two others, Ryan and Janice Schakowsky (D-Ill.), took them up on it.
This idea reminded me of Morgan Spurlock’s 30 Days episode on minimum wage—except it’s only a week. But in just seven days you can see how much food envy they are going through. In any case McGovern and Emerson are trying to add $4 billion to the food stamp program so they are trying to show there's not enough money in the budget for food stamps currently. It's a great idea. Yes, it's a stunt, but there are other benefits to the experiment. I think it made these four Congresspeople really notice just how hard it is to stay healthy without a large food budget.

McGovern and his wife, Lisa, did their food shopping for the week with help from Toinette Wilson, a D.C. resident and mother of three who relies on food stamps. Wilson gave him some tips, but it was still a struggle, he said.

"No organic foods, no fresh vegetables, we were looking for the cheapest of everything," McGovern said. "We got spaghetti and hamburger meat that was high in fat -- the fattiest meat on the shelf. I have high cholesterol and always try to get the leanest, but it's expensive. It's almost impossible to make healthy choices on a food stamp diet."
I’m from Ohio originally and Tim Ryan is the congressman from the district next to my parents, so I do know his district somewhat and, yes, there are hungry people there.

You can read Ryan’s blog about it. McGovern also has a blog.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While I disagree with the paradigm from which Rep. Ryan operates, at least he is a step up from Beam Me Up. I think he has a long future in Ohio politics. He certainly has more political savvy than my congressman, the Kook, the former Boy Mayor of Cleveland.

Jim in Cleveland