The SNAP challenge means that Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and 25 participating members must try to live off of under $4.50 per day for food and drink.
Lee detailed the tough decisions she made grocery shopping — butter and milk were outside her budget and a McDonalds value menu item will count as her midweek break — in a blog post. “What I’m thinking about most during this trip is that I’m shopping only for myself,” she wrote, comparing the difficult decisions now to when she needed public assistance as a single mother. “When I was a young, single mother, I was on public assistance. It was a bridge over troubled water, and without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I spent hours debating what to buy and what to skip, all the while keeping my sons in my mind.” Many Americans receiving SNAP benefits are under 18 years old and live in working households.
On Wednesday, the participating Democrats chronicled their trips to the grocery store, where they poured over coupons and attempted to buy a week’s worth of food for about $30:
Compare these reactions to the arguments made by conservatives, who pan food stamps as government dependency. “Unfortunately, the rapid growth of this program has only increased dependency on government and added to our federal deficit,” 25 Republican members wrote in a letter Tuesday. Last Thanksgiving, a Fox News host joked she would look “fabulous” on a food stamp diet.