Mayor Cory Booker Issues Food Stamp Challenge—to Himself

Libby Kane

Corey Booker will live on food stampsCory 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.”

  • Mikensamara

    I would say this is a great gesture if I hadn’t already experienced 15 yrs of being on food stamps myself. We never went without fresh produce or meat for the majority of our meals for our family of 6. What we did go without was new socks as our kids grew or money for utility bills or gas for our vehicles. Need I say that the majority of people I know on food stamps are over weight???? Being on the food stamp program does not necessarily mean lack of food……maybe these people need education on spending the fs wisely. Now if Booker wants to live on fs for a week maybe he should also do it with little to no extra CASH for his other living expenses. That would be getting to where the people are living.

  • Knitsewbake

    Many of the most inexpensive, quickly prepared, highly advertised, and least perishable foods offer the least nutritional benefit and most harm to our health. There certainly are people who need better education on their food choices, in every income category. Beyond this small, largely irrelevant, factor of personal choice, why isn’t any one addressing the deeper problem of what would happen when these 42.2 million Americans don’t buy food? Primarily, you can’t survive without food. Beyond basic survival, consider the impact to the economy. When people stop spending (gov’t or private), businesses stop earning. Please calculate the total amount of money the SNAP program directly injects into the private sector and then give the true impact of the program a second thought.