Food stamp challenge

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A food stamp or SNAP challenge is a trend in the United States popularized by religious groups, community activists and food pantries, in which a family of means chooses to purchase food using only the monetary equivalent of what a family that size would receive in the US federal government Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), colloquially called food stamps.[1] In 2012, this amounted to US$133.41 per person per month, or $4.39 per day.[2]

CNN reporter Sean Callebs did an experiment where he spent the month of February 2009 eating only as much food as what a person could get with the maximum possible amount of food stamps. Since he was living in New Orleans, Louisiana, this amounted to $176. At the end of the experiment, he said that he had eaten pretty well, and that the biggest drawback was a social one, not a nutritional one, because he could not go out to eat at restaurants with friends.[3][4]

In St. Louis, Missouri, Food Outreach executive director Greg Lukeman has led a food stamp challenge since 2008, during September "Hunger Action Month" to bring awareness of the nonprofit organization's clients. Community members, Food Outreach staff and supporters, area politicians, and members of the local media have participated and blog about the experience.[5]

In October 2010, a new documentary Food Stamped, where a couple live on a food stamp budget for a week, premiered at the Mill Valley Film Festival.

In May 2013, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) took part in week-long SNAP Challenge during which he tweeted: "Living this wk on $4.80/day food budget. Got on scale this morning - lost 6 lbs in 4 days."[6]

In June 2013, Donny Ferguson, the communications director for Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), attempted to counter the popular opinion that food stamp funds were not enough to survive on. He spent $27.68 without a shopping list or coupons or discounts, and argued that at such rates, the government could afford cuts to the SNAP program as deep as 12%. He further argued that savings could be made by buying vegetables instead of rice and beans, advanced planning, and pooling of resources with a larger family stipend. Ferguson failed the challenge when he went 14% over budget. The items he purchased were highly processed, high in sugar and sodium, and included no fresh fruits or vegetables.[7][8][9][10]


  1. ^ "A Governor Truly Tightens His Belt". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  2. ^ "Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)". Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  3. ^ "Blog: Living on Food stamps". Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  4. ^ "Blog: Getting by during the last week". Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Doug Moore (October 5, 2008). "Eating for a week on $25" (PDF). ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  6. ^ Emily Goodin (May 24, 2013). "Sen. Murphy loses 6 pounds on food stamp challenge". Capital Living. The Hill. Archived from the original on 2013-06-06. Retrieved June 5, 2013. The lawmaker has been tweeting about it, writing about his weight loss on Friday morning. 
  7. ^ "Rep. Steve Stockman aide boasts success in "SNAP challenge" as Democrats lament cuts in food assistance". Trail Blazers Blog. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  8. ^ "On food stamp challenge, Stockman aide busted budget, but…". Trail Blazers Blog. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  9. ^ "Stockman staff beating ‘SNAP Challenge’". Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  10. ^

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