You may heard about a publicity stunt some liberal Congressman are doing this week of living on the $21 per week that food stamp recipients receive. I call it a stunt because it’s just not realistic.
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.
I call the stunt unrealistic because of a very important word in the third paragraph of the quote above. That word is “assistance.” Another important word is “average.” The reality is that the average food stamp recipient is not supposed to be living solely off of food stamps. Most people are presumed to have other incomes, such as a part-time or full-time job, Social Security, disability checks, alimony, or something else. Every single time I have ever seen someone in line at the supermarket buying food using food stamps or the new EBT debit cards, they were buying some food using the public assistance and some with cash in hand.
That’s not to mention whatever assistance is provided by the state or local agencies or charitable groups like churches or food pantries.
In fact, one can eat pretty well on a food stamp budget as seen on the blog Rebecca’s Pocket, where she is chronicling her efforts to eat organic on a food stamp budget for a month and it’s a mighty tasty looking menu. She’s even coming in under budget!
Not to mention that there are other web sites out there that show you how to feed a family of four on $45/week! Yes, it’s not luxurious eating, but if it’s what you have, then it’s what you do. Most people in the world today and throughout history had much worse diets than even that one.
This isn’t to deny the real problem of poverty in this country, but silly publicity stunts don’t do anything about solving the actual underlying problem (especially since increasing federal allocations don’t address the root causes). They only serve to elevate the profiles and burnish the liberal credentials of the politicians asking us all to look at them as they forgo their fat-cat free meals at fundraising dinners.
Where does the tax money go?
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