Tuesday, December 4, 2012

SNAP Challenge

Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, N.J., has taken on the SNAP ChallengeSNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), commonly known as food stamps, now reaches over 40 million Americans - about 15% of the country.

Dan Goldberg of the Star-Ledger reportsThe average monthly food stamp benefit was $133.26 per person in New Jersey in fiscal year 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That's a little over $33 per week, or $4 per day.

Mayor Booker will be feeding himself for the next week on only $4 per day, and he'll be tweeting about his experience the whole time. Follow his story at #SNAPChallenge or #CoryBooker

I believe these types of headline-grabbing-challenges are hugely important. Not only do they raise awareness around issues of hunger and poverty, but for the individuals participating, they instill a deep sense of compassion and empathy.

We are fortunate to live in a country with a safety-net that, at the very least, prevents starvation. Thanks to programs like SNAP, poor Americans deal with a very different kind of hunger than the poor in the developing world, where death from starvation or malnutrition are very real threats.

Mayor Booker will be living below a comparatively comfortable poverty line. Even more difficult is to live below the global poverty line of $1.25 per day (and yes, that $1.25 per day = the purchasing power of $1.25 in the US). 

If you'd like to take on the SNAP Challenge yourself, there's a handy-dandy toolkit to get you up and running. You can also find a  lengthy history of food stamps in the USA here.

If you'd like to take on a tougher challenge - 5 days on $1.25 per day - head over to Live Below the Line to pre-register for the 2013 challenge.

-Selfish Blogger

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