Republican aide challenges Democrats in real-life ‘hunger games’


(Getty Images)

Can you feed yourself on $31.50 a week, the average the USDA says a beneficiary of SNAP gets per week?

Some staff members of Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Tex.) think so.

SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the food stamp program. Some Democrats who are seeking increased funding for the program are asking  people to try living on a food budget of $4 a day, or $28 a week.

To counter the 30 House Democrats participating in the "SNAP Challenge", Stockman aide Donny Ferguson opted in to best them.

According to its Web site, the point of the SNAP Challenge is to experience life as a low-income Americans."

To this effect, Ferguson ate the following:

Two boxes of Honeycomb cereal
Three cans of red beans and rice
A jar of peanut butter
A bottle of grape jelly
A loaf of whole wheat bread
Two cans of refried beans
A box of spaghetti
A large can of pasta sauce
Two liters of root beer
A large box of popsicles
24 servings of Wyler’s fruit drink mix
Eight cups of applesauce
A bag of pinto beans
A bag of rice
A bag of cookies
One gallon of milk
A box of maple and brown sugar oatmeal

The final cost? $27.98.

(stockman.house.gov)
(stockman.house.gov)

As Stockman's communications director and agriculture policy adviser, Ferguson used his week to advocate decreasing funding for food stamps.

“Not only did I buy a week’s worth of food on what Democrats claim is too little, I have money left over," said Ferguson in a press release on Stockman's site. "We can cut the proposed benefits by an additional 12.4 percent and still be able to eat for a week."

The press release called the SNAP Challenge "a left-wing publicity stunt."

"Democrats have been intentionally buying overpriced food and shopping at high-priced chains to make it appear the cuts go too far," it stated.

Ferguson wasted no time doing a celebratory "victory" lap. "I didn't plan ahead or buy strategically," he said. "I just saw the publicity stunt and made a snap decision to drive down the street and try it myself.  I put my money where my mouth is, and the proposed food stamp cuts are still quite filling,” said Ferguson.

Ruth Tam is a writer based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter: @ruthetam.
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