Mayor Cory Booker Commits to Living on Food Stamps


As it seems is always the case with Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a great idea started on Twitter.

Newsday recounts the conversation with a Twitter user named TwitWit which led to Mayor Booker proposing they both try to live on a food stamps budget:

During their Twitter exchange, TwitWit wrote, “nutrition is not the responsibility of the government.”

The conversation soon changed to food stamps.

“why is there a family today that is “too poor to afford breakfast”? are they not already receiving food stamps?” TwitWit wrote.

“Lets you and I try to live on food stamps in New Jersey (high cost of living) and feed a family for a week or month. U game?” Booker responded.

“sure, Mayor, I’m game,” TwitWit wrote back.

“Great. Lets do this. I hope you live in New Jersey. Lets film it and see how we do,” Booker responded. He later wrote, “We will have to get a referee — DM me your number so we can see if we can work out details.”

The woman who calls herself Twitwit wants to remain anonymous for now, but insists she isn’t against Food Stamps entirely, but rather believes that increasing the amount of support people receive will make more people poor. She proposes they both live on a food stamps budget, but won’t agree to the challenge until she sees what parameters the Booker camp comes up with for the challenge.

On Wednesday, Booker confirmed that he will be taking part in the Food Stamp challenge, called SNAP in New Jersey

What do you think of the mayor’s challenge?

Would you take on the challenge of living on a Food Stamps budget?

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  1. This is the first time I felt Cory Booker was using this as a pr stunt. Never felt that way about him in the past, because he has put himself right in the middle of a very tough area, Newark, NJ, to be mayor of, but this didn’t feel right to me. I guess he’s no different than any other politician, and I am sure he is aiming for higher positions in politics. And I guess I am looking for a hero and heroes aren’t perfect.

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    Tobias. If you had $100 in food stamps, you could buy considerably more interesting food than if you had $70 in cash. It’s not just rice. I priced out a salad for lunch, including a boiled egg, a slice of housebrand chees, a slice of housebrand lunchmeat, a third of a head of lettuce and a couple of tablespoons of housebrand dressing. A couple of donuts cost more, and half a box of housebrand mac and cheese with the addtional milk and butter costs about the same. Diff is, no protein in the latter and no carbs in the former. And you can cut one of the three sources of protein from the salad and still do okay in nutrition.
    My point is two-fold. One is the taxpayer who may be cooking from scratch to save money seeing somebody obviously not either paying much in taxes or cooking from scratch, on the taxpayer’s dime.
    The other point, which you missed, is that if you don’t need food stamps, which is what the excess-food-stamp market is based on, then you shouldn’t get them. Other people need them. My first experience was talking to a woman who was employed full time as was her husband and they had no kids and were doing reasonably well. But, she said, she and hubby would be late because he had to stop on the way home from work to change some food stamps. That got me interested.
    Food stamps aren’t a great way to live, but some people who get them shouldn’t. A lot of people, apparently.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    Food stamps would be considerably more popular with those who pay for them but don’t get them if the eligibility were tighter. Most of us have seen top-end foods, includng prepared foods from the deli counter, paid for with food stamps.
    You don’t do this if you are close to starving.
    Last fall, the feds busted a grocer in Georgia for laundering $6.4 mill of food stamps, that we know of, and charging thirty percent to do it. This means the folks wanted seventy dollars of something else more than they wanted a hundred dollars worth of food. You don’t do this if you’re hungry. The fee is the same I discovered a thousand miles away and twenty years ago. This makes excess food stamps the most stable currency on the planet. For this to be as stable as a rock, or perhaps gold, we need a large, consistent, predictable source of excess food stamps. That is, food stamps going to people who don’t need them, won’t need them, and can count on getting them into the forseeable future.
    Tighten up the eligibility–which is to say cut out the fraud–and you’ll have both more money for the poor and less objections from the taxpayer.

    • Yes, you do do that if you’re starving, and you do it for a very good reason: eating lentils every day takes a huge psychological toll on you.

      I know how to eat cheap. My grocery budget for a week runs around $15-20. I can eat a healthy, convenient diet on that. But sometimes, I don’t have time to cook; sometimes, I have a day so stressful that I cannot muster up the energy to make spaghetti sauce from scratch. Some days I work nonstop from 8:00am to past midnight, with a couple of half hour breaks available to cram food in my face.

      When those things happen, I break down and order the cheapest food I can find, because I am a human being and I have limits just the same as rich people do. It’s easy to say, “You can buy a bag of rice for a few dollars,” and another to find enough rice recipes to keep things interesting so that you can stand to eat. I have hit points where I can feel my body shutting down from lack of food but still cannot muster up the will to eat another goddamn saltine.

      The real limit isn’t finding things to eat: it’s psychological stamina. It’s watching your friends fill their bellies on foods you could never afford and wanting just a taste. There are times when I would give up staples for just a little variety (and I have done so in the past). If you think that’s fraud, then you could stand to try the mayor’s experiment.

  4. A week doesn’t seem like a challenge. I ‘d like to see them up the ante and try 6 months.

    • They need to do it at least a month. See how they like the Ramen noodles and mac and cheese. Plus the constant reapplications if you miss a deadline.

      People like Bill O’Reilly who think it’s easy have obviously never applied. They never give you enough and are always trying to cut you off to maybe $30 a month.

      Added bonus? Our government doesn’t even count food and gas prices into the cost of inflation.

  5. I’ve seen this media idea done over and over in the UK. We have had members of parliament do it. Jonathan Porrit was the first and it actually changed his politics radically – and others have followed on from there. The results have been mixed.

    Many have ended up being savaged by the people around them for being patronising and treating the idea as an adventure and almost a game. 1 Week is fun – 2 can be fun too… but when it’s months, when you end up with the major part of your day being focused upon being able to locate and buy food – how that lack of food impacts socially, psychologically … how about it affecting your kids – their school life – they can’t invite a friend over cos you can’t afford that kids mouth and stomach in your home.

    Playing with stamps is easy, it’s when the stamps bite home that the reality kicks in. It will no doubt be interesting – but I’m sure It won’t be as real as reality – and it won’t last as long either.


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