Newark Mayor Cory Booker Challenges Twitter Army Wife to Live on Food Stamps for a Week

Politics at Play 21

cory bookerNewark, New Jersey's Mayor Cory Booker has no problem getting up close and personal with his constituents. He has actually gotten quite the reputation for being uber-friendly with residents over Twitter. 'Course, being that he's a politician, his convos with the people occasionally get heated, and a recent one with @MWadeNC -- a user who identifies herself as a “Daughter of the American Revolution (DAR), fighting against any and all forms of socialism/communism.. Army Veteran, Army Daughter, Army Wife" -- was no exception.

It all began when the mayor tweeted a quote from Plutarch, "An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics" and "We pay 4 HUGE back end govt programs: prisons, police, etc. If we invested in Schools, nutrition, etc we’d save $ & create wealth." MWadeNC's response? "Nutrition is not a responsibility of the government."

That lead to some full-throttle debate, and eventually, the mayor proposed:

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?

MWadeNC confirmed she was in! So, right after Thanksgiving, the two will go head to head in the food stamp challenge, which the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut -- already running a similar challenge with students and staff -- will take on refereeing duties.

No matter the outcome of the challenge, you gotta love a politician whose actions actually reflect his beliefs! By attempting to live on $30 for an entire week -- the maximum benefit New Jersey’s food stamp program offers -- "there’s no way you could eat nutritious food,” as Rucha Gadre, director of Food Bank Services at Mercer Street Friends, put it. And poor nutrition leads to hunger -- in extreme cases, starvation -- and health issues, which can in turn wreak havoc on crime and the economy.

Here's hoping Mayor Booker's extremely valid, important, timely point is one that's not just well-taken, but well-illustrated when he and MWadeNC put their money where their mouths are -- literally!

Do you believe government should invest in nutrition? How do you feel about Mayor Booker taking on the food stamp challenge?


Image via TechCrunch/Flickr

health care, politics, eating healthy


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tbruc... tbrucemom

From what I understand that $30 a week is per person so a family of 4 would get $120 a week.  It definitely can be done.  Thankfully I'm not on food stamps, but I spend approximately $50-$60 a week for two people. Also, food stamps doesn't include the two meals a day children are eligible for in school. You need to plan wisely, buy in bulk, take advantage of sales, etc. but it can be done fairly easily.

Jespren Jespren

Exactly as tbrucemom mentioned. That's $30 PER PERSON. While my husband was unemployed and we went on food stamps for awhile our food budget DOUBLED from what we spend pre and post assistance. Feeding a family on food stamp assistance (the max) is EASY! It's feeding a family on a lower 'middle class' budget that is hard.

Sara Haxton

I spend about $500-600 a month on groceries a month and it is not as healthy as I would like.  Why, because we can not afford to pay more than that. By the way we are a family of 5 with 2 adults working full time, and 2 special needs children. We make too much for government assistance, but even $25 a week more for fruit or veggies would be a help.

nonmember avatar Jess

It is most certainly NOT easy to feed MY family on food stamps and manage to be healthy. I do my best to give my sixteen month old the fruits and veggies she needs but for us? Nah, we eat what we can afford and to be honest, most of our dinners are that way.

Torra... TorranceMom

I taught elementary school in a VERY low socioeconomic area for a decade and believe me, you can live quite well on public assistance. Too many of the families that I knew of that were receiving food stamps or help from other entitlement programs dropped their kids off in Cadillac Escalades (with rims no less), their hair and nails were always freshly done and they always had an abundance of name brand clothing and gold jewelry. I'd gladly take Mayor Booker's challenge.

mommy... mommytojack0524

I shop at Aldi and it's much cheaper. If you have one in your area and you're having a hard time feeding your family, try it. If I had $90 a week for my family of 3 at Aldi, it wouldn't be that hard to have nutritious meals. Frozen veggies are cheap.


Vegeta Vegeta

I think she meant that the government shouldn't be in charge of nutrition. Being that they, now, are not required to label food with gmos and support monstrato to pump out unhealthy things while independent farmers can't even afford to plant because gmo are so cheap people choose them.

spect... spectralmind

I know someone in NY (also high cost of living) who receives food stamps for her family. She gets a bit below $800 dollars monthly. She also gets housing assistance andmedicaid. Her 5 children are all severely disabled or need intervention due to her doing drugs and not delivering any of them to full term, also receive a high amount of state care. 
That includes 4 out of 5 kids in lengthy NICU stays, because she was using and couldn't go full term. Also one diagnosed as autistic and on disability, three more in early intervention type programs since they are so developmentally delayed. Oh, also her husband and her both are convicted felons with not even a GED. The price tag for supporting this family must be mind boggling at this point.

I want social programs to work, I really do. I am a strong advocate of them. BUT, there is a reason people have problems with such services. They are HEAVILY abused, and often don't go to the people that need them a lot of the time.
I have worked two jobs just to keep myself afloat. And If I choose to, I could have worked part time in order to make little enough to qualify for a handout. I didn't... because I was young and able and could work. And that is the problem... people CAN get it, so they want it. America has become far too indulgent and lazy in my opinion. It won't matter soon because the money simply won't be there to handout after a certain point.


nonmember avatar Shannon

It's easy to get nutritious, cheap food in suburban areas that have multiple grocery stores and even farmers markets, especially if you have a car. But if you live in a city with poor food infrastructure, there may be little to no quality produce and a poor selection of other healthy things. Read "The American Way of Eating" by Tracie McMillan. It was a real eye-opener and it broke my heart.

1ofea... 1ofeachplus

My family of three spends between $100-$125 per week on groceries and that includes extras that are completely unnecessary like soda and snack cakes, in addition to fruits and veggies and meats.  I could ABSOLUTELY cut our grocery bill down to $90/week or less with very little effort and still get grapes and apples and fresh green beans and a roaster chicken, etc.

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