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Mayor Cory Booker to Live off Food Stamps For A Week

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Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker is set to take on a food stamp challenge between Dec.4-11. Today, he confirmed his participation on Twitter and promised to document his experience:

Booker proposed the challenge after getting into a Twitter discussion with a user named TwitWit, who describes herself on Twitter as a “Daughter of the American Revolution, fighting against any and all forms of socialism/communism.. Army Veteran, Army Daughter, Army Wife.”  

At first, Booker had tweeted a Greek proverb:

An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.

TwitWit accused Booker of wanting to redistribute wealth, and then the two eventually began talking about the government’s role in funding school breakfast and lunch programs. TwitWit stated that nutrition is not the responsibility of the government.

Booker responded:

We have a shared responsibility that kids go to school nutritionally ready 2 learn.

Eventually the conversation turned to food stamps when TwitWit wrote:

why is there a family today that is "too poor to afford breakfast"? are they not already receiving food stamps?

That’s when Booker followed up with the challenge:

Lets you and I try to live on food stamps in New Jersey (high cost of living) and feed a family for a week or month. U game?

TwitWit agreed to the challenge.

In New Jersey, according the 2011 fiscal year, the average monthly food stamp benefit was $133.26 a person. Meaning, those taking the challenge will have to live on about $4 dollars a day.

According to the Associated Press, Booker told reporters, "This will not be a gimmick or a stunt," but provides an opportunity "for us to grow in compassion and understanding" and dispel stereotypes. A few months ago, a Phoenix Mayor also tried to live on a food stamp budget and noted that he was “tired” and it was “hard to focus.”

The AP also landed an interview with TwitWit, who is a 39-year-old woman from North Carolina and who said she does not oppose food stamps, but thinks that the more taxpayer money designated to the food stamp program, the more people will need them.

She told the AP, “There is going to be a lot more of us needing those food stamps if it doesn't stop.”

Ironically, she seemed in need of some financial relief as well, stating that her family is “Six months away from being in debt and on welfare ourselves."

She added, "Most of us are in the same boat. … Some of us just aren't getting the assistance."

Meanwhile, FOX News has reported on Booker’s challenge with an extreme insensitivity toward food stamp recipients.

Media Matters reported that FOX pundit Andrea Tantaros disgustingly said she “would ‘look fabulous’ if she were forced to on a food stamp diet.”

Watch the video here:

FoxNews also published an ignorant piece titled “Food stamp menu ideas for Newark Mayor Cory Booker,” in which they randomly list off burritos, casseroles and soup as cheap and easy meals. They even suggest French Toast — because “being on food stamps doesn’t mean denying yourself a treat.”

They continue:

French toast is best made with stale bread, which is always a bargain at the store.

Hopefully, Booker’s challenge can begin to chip away at the classism and stereotypes that often come along with food stamps. Perhaps then, people like TwitWit can see that government assistance does not rid people of struggle. Instead, assistance is so meager that those who were born into poverty find it difficult to ever get out. And nobody, not even TwitWit, who is struggling herself, should be embarrassed about receiving aid. Instead they should fight for more — until hopefully we don’t live in a society where people can’t afford food.

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