Cory Booker's Food Stamp Challenge Starts With a Grocery Bill


Social media-savvy Mayor Cory Booker posted a photo of a crumpled receipt Monday morning to Facebook and Twitter.

The Newark, N.J., mayor wasn't filing expenses; he was showing supporters what he'll be eating for the next week as he takes on the food stamp challenge. Starting today and going until Dec. 12, Booker will eat only what he can buy with $29.78, which is slightly more than the $28 individuals receiving food stamps tend to spend on average.

Beans, whole corn and a red delicious apple were a few of the items visible on the receipt. The list doesn't include any meat products, as Booker is a vegetarian. He also doesn't drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, but those products aren't covered under food stamps anyway.

Booker, known for his charisma and tendency to respond to residents over Twitter, agreed to the challenge after sparring with other tweeters over the necessity of social programs such as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, more commonly called food stamps.

A study released Tuesday said almost a third of American adults went hungry or worried about someone close to them going hungry this year.

Rucha Gadre, director of programs and member services at a New Jersey food bank, said the holidays are an especially busy time for food pantries.

In November, she said she often sees requests for Thanksgiving baskets, which include all the dry goods necessary - and sometimes a turkey - for a Thanksgiving meal.

"We used to do that, but obviously, due to lack of funds, we can't do that anymore," Gadre said.

News of Booker's challenge has already spread throughout the food bank community in New Jersey.

"People will certainly pay attention to what he has to say," Gadre said.

Booker pledged to document his experience living on the food budget of the average individual receiving SNAP benefits on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the video-hosting site he co-founded, WayWire .

Throughout the day Monday, Booker retweeted tips from followers on how to survive the week, living without the luxuries Booker is accustomed to.

"Dont let yourself get dehydrated! Drink lots of water, you have no fluids on here," tweeted @LilMama82310.

" I read your receipt, and I think you are going to be hungry," @AmyLofton warned.

"U may be right," Booker tweeted back. "We will see."