Cory Booker, the high-profile mayor of Newark, New Jersey, says that he will live on food stamps for at least a week.
This isn’t because he qualifies for government assistance–it’s in response to an exchange he had over Twitter, which began when he tweeted, “‘An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics’ Plutarch ancient Greek historian (c. 46–120 CE).”
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Other Twitter users called him out on the quote, saying that he wants to “redistribute wealth.” One in particular, @MWadeNC, tweeted that “nutrition is not the responsibility of the government,” prompting Booker to respond, “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?”
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Now Booker and @MWadeNC, who says she is a 39-year-old married mother of two from North Carolina, will live on food stamps for at least one week, starting after Thanksgiving.
The Associated Press reported that he tweeted plans to film their challenge and to have a referee. ”We’re going to set up the rules,” Booker said. “And that’s what we’re researching right now. This will not be a gimmick or a stunt.”
Booker plans to document what he is calling the #SNAPChallenge (named after Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the official name for the food stamp program) on Waywire, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook from December 4th to 11th.
Political implications aside, what Booker is doing isn’t exactly out of the ordinary: This year, a record number of Thanksgiving dinners will be purchased using food stamps. About 42.2 million Americans are currently on food stamps and participation in the SNAP program has grown 70% since 2007. With this kind of growth, food stamps have become a new normal.
Booker seems to be aware of how many people depend on food stamps. When someone tweeted to him, “I luv that ur doing the food stamp challenge,” he responded, “Millions of employed hard working people do it everyday.”