The Inclusive Economy
By Sean Luechtefeld on 05/16/2012 @ 12:30 PM
Yesterday, DCist indicated that world-renowned Manhattan chef and talk show host Mario Batali announced he is taking the “Food Stamp Challenge.” In short, the Food Stamp Challenge involves people – typically of greater-than-average means – subsisting on the $31 that would be provided to low-income families by SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. To be sure, Batali isn’t the first well-known figure to take the Challenge.
In the DCist piece, Batali shares (in rather gruff terms) the struggles that he has had subsisting for a week on what a single meal costs in his own restaurant. These problems go well beyond having to give up free-range chicken. “I’m [freaking] starving,” Batali notes.
The good news for Batali and others who take the Food Stamp Challenge is twofold. First, the Challenge only lasts seven days. For the low-income families that rely on SNAP every week, there’s no end to the lack of nutritious (or altogether lack of) food. Second, and more importantly, folks taking the Challenge don’t need to worry about qualifying for food stamps; they simply need to budget based on what they would earn if they did need food stamps.
Low- and moderate-income families, on the other hand, aren’t so lucky, and their ability to qualify for food stamps might be in further jeopardy given a recent proposal to eliminate Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility. In short, such a policy would reinstate asset tests for SNAP, meaning that up to three million people would lose their food stamp benefits altogether. While $31 per week isn’t much, it’s still better than the $0 that could be coming to the families who acquire enough assets to make them “just not quite poor enough” to be eligible.
While this is bad news for these families, there’s good news for you: there are things you can do to help that don’t require you to take the Food Stamp Challenge. First, visit CFED’s Advocacy Center to send a message to your legislators. Second, share this blog post on your Facebook and Twitter feeds to encourage your friends and colleagues to let Congress know that it’s not okay to strip hardworking individuals of these important benefits.