By Jo Piazza / current.com / @jopiazza
Newark Mayor Cory Booker has some regrets.
The mayor is on his third day of a weeklong challenge to restrict himself to $29.78 worth of groceries, the same amount allowed a Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP) recipient.
Not even half of the way through the challenge, Booker is reconsidering some of the choices he made with his allocation.
"In hindsight, investing more of my SNAP budget in eggs and perhaps some coffee might have helped me later in the week. I am growing concerned about running out of food before this is over — especially as I try to resist the urge now to have another sweet potato before I go to bed tonight," Booker wrote on his LinkedIn blog.
Booker has gotten a lot of criticism from the New Jersey press about his food choices, particularly a bottle of organic olive oil that he purchased at the start of the week (it was on sale for $3.99).
In Booker's defense, what he is doing is challenging, and he isn't going to be perfect at it his first time out of the gate. The important thing is that he is doing it at all. Cenk Uygur chatted with "West Wing" actor Josh Malina on "The Young Turks" this summer when Malina took on the SNAP challenge. Malina told us that trying to eat healthily, as Booker has been doing with salads and sweet potatoes, quickly went out the window once he got hungry.
Should every lawmaker voting on SNAP funding
live a day in the recipients' shoes?
Watch "The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur" weeknights at 7E/4P.
CNN's Christine Romans has downplayed the mayor's attempt to destigmatize and further understand the food stamp program by claiming that food stamps are not meant to be the recipients' only source of food.
"I'd just like to add a point here because a lot of times people try to do this to prove a point, I guess, to live on SNAP, which is Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program," Romans said. "It's not meant to be your only calorie intake source. … 'Supplemental' is the key. The government designs it so this is on top of what little money you might have, food pantries, soup kitchens."
According to Media Matters, that was the second time CNN mocked Booker's campaign. CNN anchor Carol Costello asked whether Booker's challenge was merely a publicity stunt.
For millions of Americans, SNAP is their only source of food. And those millions of Americans aren't that different from you, me, Booker, Romans or Costello.
As part of Current's Feeding the Need coverage last month, a look at hunger and nutrition in America, we compared the SNAP data with U.S. Census data, finding that the SNAP recipient really isn't so different from the average American.
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This is the exact reason Booker says he undertook the challenge, to destigmatize the SNAP user.
"A simple conversation on Twitter drew me into the #SNAPChallenge I am beginning today. My goals for the #SNAPChallenge are to raise awareness and understanding of food insecurity; reduce the stigma of SNAP participation; elevate innovative local and national food justice initiatives and food policy; and amplify compassion for individuals and communities in need of assistance," Booker wrote on his blog. "Over the next seven days, I plan to highlight the voices of people involved in local food policy, the SNAP program and other related initiatives."
On Wednesday, Michael Strahan, co-host of "Live with Kelly and Michael," announced he would be joining Booker in the challenge.
What do you think about Booker and Strahan taking on the SNAP challenge? Would you do it? Will it change anything?
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