(CNN) – Hoping to break any stigmas of government assistance, Newark Mayor Cory Booker of New Jersey will live on food stamps this week–a challenge that first began as a Twitter conversation.
The Democratic mayor will operate on a food stamp budget of about $30 a week ($4.32 per day), roughly the same amount provided to people in New Jersey who take part in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
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Booker, who's considered a potential gubernatorial candidate in New Jersey's 2013 race, vowed to go on the budget after getting into a debate last month with a Twitter user, who argued "nutrition is not the responsibility of the government."
"In my own quest to better understand the outcomes of SNAP assistance, I suggested to this specific Twitter user that we both live on a SNAP equivalent food budget for a week and document our experience," Booker wrote in a blog post Monday.
To promote the experiment, Booker, who's known for his frequent Twitter posts, will use the hashtag "#SNAPChallenge."
More than 47 million Americans used SNAP benefits in August, according to the latest monthly data available. In New Jersey, 787,460 participated that month.
Those using the benefits are allowed to purchase breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, and dairy products. They are not permitted to buy alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, hot food and any food sold for on-premises consumption.
The Department of Agriculture, which administers the program, also states that soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack crackers, and ice cream count as food items and are therefore eligible items. The list also includes seafood, steak, and bakery cakes.
Pretending to be on food stamps, you have a $4 budget to spend on food everyday. Keep in mind that means no fast food. Chicken pot pies and waffles all day, everyday for me. What would be your go to food of choice in this situation?
Frugal student as I am, I don't even spend more than that now. If we are talking purely the food I buy to feed myself? I'm not topping $30 a week. Go to foods are basically rice and sandwiches.
Of course I go out and have drinks, I go out to eat on occasion and I cook nice meals for other people, all contributing to my budget in this rule-set. But if you are in need of food stamps it speaks for itself that you don't do those things. You can feed yourself off $30 a week comfortably though.
I actually did something unintentionally this summer. Because I was on the road for 2 weeks, I wanted to avoid eating out all together. It almost became an obsession to make it through the two weeks, and now some of the changes from that experiment have become a permanent part of my diet.
For the two weeks, I spent $30 on a month supply of meal replacement shakes. I prefer to mix with water, so I didn't spend anything on juice. Like someone said, there are more extremes out there, like the high starch diets(ramen, potatoes, bread, rice, ect.)
You could also buy canned soup, which is pretty filling and very low cost.
Even a $2 tomato plant will yield a few weeks worth of food over time. So don't count out nature's gifts and a little green thumb.
I was on a similar budget last year living off campus. Every week spent about:
Bag of brown rice = $2
Jar of oatmeal = $3
Weeks worth of chicken = $18
Can of black beans = $1
Weeks worth of salad = $5
Ate oatmeal everyday for breakfast and had brown rice and chicken with black beans everyday for lunch and dinner. I also went to the gym a lot so of course I had my protein shakes too but I thought I was eating good on 30 a week for food