Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, N.J., has taken on the SNAP Challenge. SNAP (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 reports: The 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.