Congresscritters try to survive on $21 in food stamps for a week

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) are among a handful of congresscritters participating in an experiment in which they must subsist on standard US food stamp rations for one week.

The shocking conclusion, so far? $21 worth of stamps a week doesn't add up to much, and it's "almost impossible" to maintain a healthy diet for $1 a meal (huh, wonder why America's poor suffer obesity in such great numbers?).

Both lawmakers are blogging about the experience: McGovern here, Ryan here. Snip from Ryan's latest post:

My biggest concern today is running out of food before the end of the week.

One loaf of bread doesn’t make as many sandwiches as you’d think, and I’m running through my cottage cheese pretty fast as well.

The budgeting was hard enough, rationing what I do have will present another challenge.

Link to Washington Post story (thanks, Rebecca).

Reader comment: Stephan says,

These Congressmen aren't the first politicians to think of living off food stamps for a week. Governor Ted Kulongoski of Oregon spent his own week eating for only $21 less than a month ago. Take your choice of links.
Chris says, More examples of (this time UK) politicians dipping their toe in the pool of real life in a phony attempt to get credibility.
In 1993 UK politician Michael Portillo lived like a 'single mom' on £80 a week.

And David Cameron (leader of opposition Conservatives) has just finished living with a Muslim family in Birmingham for a week, and being a teaching assistant for a couple of days: Link.

Nick says,
Michael Pollan did a great job explaining why the poor suffer from obesity in the April 22 NY Times Magazine - it's because crap like Twinkies is cheap. And Twinkies are cheap because of the U.S. farm bill, which subsidizes Twinkie ingredients, but not things like fresh veggies. Pollan's article is lucid and illuminating. Link.