Statement: Congresswoman Speier Reports on her 4th Day of her Five-Day Food Stamp Challenge
"As I near the end of four days on my food budget of $4.50 per day, I am struck by how much attention I pay to food now that I am limited to what I can eat. It’s different than a diet and I’ve been on a few of those in my time; for one, my self-imposed, financially controlled food budget can’t include enough fruits and vegetables and tasty reduced-calorie meals due to cost. And coffee is a big loss. I drink a cheap instant coffee while savoring a full-bodied fresh cup I had the prior week. See, I’m thinking too much about food, and why not, I’m hungry.
"But the food stamp challenge also differs from a diet in that I know that this is what much of America faces each week. One in six Americans lives in poverty—that’s, 46.2 million people, or 15.1% of our population, the highest rate of poverty of any major industrialized nation in the world. Three out of four people who receive food stamps have a job. But nearly 20 percent of all working adults aren’t able to rise above the poverty line even if they work full-time for a year. And the federal government sets poverty income for one person at $10,890—that’s less than $1,000 per month, an income that guarantees hunger and, if slightly exceeded, no food stamps.
"There are members of Congress who want to eliminate a needed increase to the food stamp program. I wish they would take the challenge of eating on $4.50 per day. If not, I hope they at least recognize there is a hunger crisis in this country and that they find the compassion to do something about it. "