Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, NJ, is taking up the Food Stamp Challenge starting Tuesday. Booker plans to live on food stamps for the week, which, in New Jersey, comes out to be $133 a month, or $4 a day.
“To live off that and still try to live a healthy lifestyle of healthy meals is incredibly difficult”, said Greg Stanton, Mayor of Pheonix, AZ who tried a similar experiment back in September. “I had to skip a bunch of meals, ate a lot of Top Ramen, beans and rice.”
Stanton says the experience made him a better policy maker and a more empathetic leader.
“If I’m a child in a family that’s trying to live on food stamps, that’s brutally difficult to try to go to school when your tummy isn’t as full as it used to be,” Stanton said.
It has also taught him something about people on food stamps.
“There are a lot of false stereotypes about people that are living off of food stamps, that’s not fair.” he told Chris Jansing Monday, “they are hard working people that don’t want to be on food stamps.”
The unintended consequence of this week-long experiment is that he lost weight.
“Healthy fresh food can be very expensive,” he says. “We want people to eat healthy and have healthy lifestyles. we don’t want people to have issues with diabetes etc.”
Mayor Stanton hopes that the economy gets better soon and congress reaches a compromise on the fiscal cliff. He believes that once things start looking up there will be fewer people on food stamps.