After some Democrats decided to live off food stamps last week, Republican Rep. Steve Stockman undertook the challenge to debunk their “publicity stunt” and encourage Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding cuts.
Because Stockman apparently could not be bothered to carry out the challenge himself, a spokesman for Spokeman’s office Donny Ferguson took up the challenge to eat on $4.50 a day.
"I wanted to personally experience the effects of the proposed cuts to food stamps," Ferguson said. "I didn't plan ahead or buy strategically, I just saw the publicity stunt and made a snap decision to drive down the street and try it myself.”
Ferguson added that many of his meals were filling and that he expected to have leftover food. He also said that he’d been broke before and gotten by on much less than the cookies and root beer that he managed to buy, in addition to his healthy beans and rice diet.
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Rep. Barbara Lee, one of the House Democrats who agreed to the challenge, disagreed with Ferguson’s conclusion.
"Personally it's a real challenge,” Lee said. “I'm constantly preoccupied with food.”
Lee found that she was unable to obtain many fruits and vegetables, which she found upsetting. She added that although she was not starving, she was frequently hungry.
Rep. Dan Kidlee said the challenge was less about feeling hunger and more about the long-term impact on Americans’ health. Kiddle said he sympathized most with people who depend on a food stamp diet from month to month.
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"This is the United States of America. People ought to have some floor of decency beneath which no American should ever fall,” Kidlee said. “Having a basic healthy diet is fundamental to an advanced society, and every citizen regardless of their financial situation should be afforded that."