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Congresswoman Tastes Life on Food Stamps

Congresswoman Jackie Speier challenged to only spend $4.50 a day on food.

She was hungry. She thought about food constantly. She envied others their fancy lattes that cost as much as she spent on food for a day.

She ate tuna casserole several days in a row.

U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier today described the experience of eating for a week on $4.50 a day -- the average amount allotted per person to food stamp recipients -- as uncomfortable but "profound."

Speier and other members of Congress last week undertook the Food Stamp Challenge to get a better sense of what life is like for those living on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Nearly 15 percent of the U.S. population was using the program as of August, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"I realized how differently people live who are on the edge," said Speier, who said that a family of four is only eligible for food stamps if they earn less than $22,000 a year.

Roughly 100,000 people in San Mateo County use food stamps, Speier said last month.

"In San Mateo County, living on $22,000 a year and factoring in the rent, you know they're living on the edge if they're making less than that," she said today.

Marge Colapietro, the vice mayor of Millbrae, also undertook the challenge along with Speier, and said the experience made it clear how hard it would be to feed a family on food stamps.

"My mind was constantly thinking about the people who are on the food assistance program and what they go through as a family," Colapietro said. "It was incomprehensible to me how families on the program can manage, to me they're heroes in the truest sense of the word."

At the national level, Speier said the funding for food stamps is in jeopardy. A proposal from Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, would cut $9 billion from the program, despite growing demand fueled by rising unemployment.

"This is a good time to make the case," Speier said. "Americans are getting poorer and we need to speak up for the silent folks."

--Bay City News

Taxed More November 05, 2011 at 02:48 AM
I don't get it. The congresswoman was hungry but every day I see 300-400 pounders pushing loaded shopping carts filled with free food stamp food out of Wal-Mart. They don't look hungry.
AM November 05, 2011 at 02:54 PM
Good for her. I can't even imagine trying to live on $22K a year in San Mateo county. I contribute to the SM County Food Bank on Bing street, but should do more...
Louis Gascoigne November 07, 2011 at 02:35 PM
Why would you live here if you only made $22k/yr, that is insane.
Concerned Taxpayer November 07, 2011 at 02:42 PM
She is full of crap just like all of our other elected "leaders" in CA. I don't buy it for one second that she did not eat other food when the cameras where not on. She is another rich elitist like Boxer, Feinstein and Pelosi that is so completely out of touch. It is funny to see that this story had any real traction as it stinks to high heaven.
Joel Weddington November 09, 2011 at 03:08 PM
Anyone who has seen her passionate fights to stand up for human rights can't doubt for a second that she did it, and anyone who knows her full story knows that this was nothing compared to some of what she's been through. It's good for society when our elected reps raise everyone's awareness about problems that shouldn't even exist. My wife and I want to try this, but we keep putting it off to the "next day" just the way some of the public put off helping others less fortunate than themselves. But we do find other ways to contribute.
haveapizza September 15, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Heroes? Seriously? People who cannot manage their own lives to the point they require others to feed them are heroes? What has happened to this society?

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