Can You Live On $5 A Day?

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CONGRESSMAN Bob Brady and State Sen. Vincent Hughes marvel at how little $5 can buy as they survey canned-vegetable aisle.

Congressman Bob Brady headed a contingent of elected officials, as they joined the Jewish Federation and the Coalition Against Hunger to kick off a week-long Greater Philadelphia Food Stamp Challenge.

Brady and other participants, including Mayor Michael Nutter, State Sen. Vincent Hughes, and State Reps. Vanessa Brown, Cherelle Parker, Brendan Boyle, Gene DiGirolamo and Tony Payton, were trying to live on a $5-a-day food limit, the average food-stamp benefit.

Thanking the Federation and the Coalition for their leadership, Brady said, “The challenge should be taken on the road to Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. to help more lawmakers understand how outrageous cuts in the SNAP/food stamp program are impacting people’s lives and their long-term health. This is going to be a real challenge for me, but I’m only doing it for a week. Poor families have to make do on this budget week and week after week.”

On day one of the challenge, the Congressman filled his shopping cart at the ShopRite Market in West Philadelphia. He stocked up on chicken cutlets, a loaf of wheat bread, peanut butter, jelly, milk, rice, spaghetti sauce, pasta, fresh carrots, lettuce, bran cereal and store-brand decaf tea bags.

Paying close attention to prices, Brady said, “The cuts to the SNAP program and Pennsylvania’s means test for the poor will require struggling families to make food choices that may affect the health of their children. This is an assault on the poor and it is stupid.” His bill came to $35.21, but with a discount ShopRite card it rounded out to $35.00.

The Food Stamp Challenge is designed to raise awareness about the importance of food stamps (now called SNAP) and highlights the policy issues that affect Pennsylvanians’ access to the program, specifically the 2012 Farm Bill, the federal legislation that funds the program.

The Challenge also takes place the week before the planned asset test for SNAP goes into effect in Pennsylvania, which will disqualify thousands of low-income families from food assistance.

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