Cory Booker Food Stamp Challenge: The NJ Mayor Responds To Critics

Cory Booker responded to critics of his food stamp challenge on “Piers Morgan Tonight” on Friday. The New Jersey mayor noted that he hopes his actions will inspire “a more heated debate” about food stamps.

The Newark, NJ mayor is more than halfway through a week of living on the monetary equivalent of food stamps. He began the week with only $30 to spend on all of his meals. That’s just $4.32 a day.

With some 42 million Americans on food stamps, some have applauded his efforts to highlight the struggles of many families. However, critics suggest that he is “misleading” how the program is designed to be used.

On Wednesday, Christine Romans of CNN criticized Booker’s challenge, saying that food stamps are “not meant to be your only calorie intake source.” Romans continued, ” ‘Supplemental’ is the key. The government designs it so this is on top of what little money you might have, food pantries, soup kitchens.”

In response to her comments, Booker said that it was just “reality” that many Americans don’t use food stamps as a supplement, but as their only source of food.

Booker commented,

“There are many families — and I talked to a group of security guard workers yesterday who make seven dollars and change, don’t have health care benefits, so if they get sick, they have to either take days off of work and lose that money, or work through the sickness, who don’t have retirement benefits, who find it hard at the end of the month to pay their rent, to buy their food, and are struggling.

“She may think its a supplemental program, but for many Americans who are working even, this is the difference between going deep into food insecurity, not being able to provide for their families, and having a bridge to stability.”

Today marks day six of Booker’s challenge. He has been tweeting, blogging, and Instagramming his progress. On Friday, he blogged that he had a “terrible headache” from lack of coffee and was rationing his food carefully so he wouldn’t run out.

“Today is the 4 day of my #SNAPChallenge and so far it has been the most difficult. I’m realizing more and more that my current daily food intake cannot continue at the same pace, and so my new focus is on smaller portions spread throughout the day.This morning I had one apple for breakfast followed by a can of chick peas with seasoning and olive oil for lunch. My last meal of the day consisted of broccoli, cauliflower, black beans, corn casserole and a sweet potato which I ate in small portions between 2pm and 7pm this afternoon. I will likely not eat again until tomorrow morning in order to maintain enough food.”

What do you think of Booker’s food stamp challenge?