Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton experienced what life would be like on food stamps as part of Hunger Awareness Month. It is estimated that 1.1 million people live on food stamps in Arizona, and throughout the United States in the month of June, 46.7 million Americans received food stamp benefits.
According to 10 Fox News in Phoenix, Mayor Stanton had to live of off $29 worth of food for a week. “So for the past week, I’ve lived on food stamps or at least the amount of money you get on food stamps,” Mayor Stanton said. In a message posted on his Facebook page, he explained the amount of benefits a family of four would receive:
In the weeklong SNAP Experience when we’ll limit total food purchases to the weekly budget of a typical SNAP participant: $4.16 a day. That’s about $29 a week for one person and $97 a week for a family of four.
“I lost a few pounds this week, I’m probably down about four pounds,” Mayor Stanton said. “Occasionally I’d have a cup of coffee and skip a meal in order to make it through.” Stanton chronicled his daily food intake and at the end of the challenge, he realized just how hard it is for families to survive:
Identifying, in a concrete way, with struggling families is an important exercise for any leader. By walking in the shoes of those who depend on the SNAP program, I certainly feel like I’ve gained critical perspective as a policymaker. From a broader perspective, I’m starting to think about all the other challenges families on food stamps (SNAP) must face at the same time they are stretching their food benefit. Census data in 2010 showed Arizona had the second highest poverty rate in the nation with 21.2% of its citizens living in poverty. The national figure was 14.3 percent. We’ve improved since then, but we’re still in the 10-poorest states category. Worse, women raising children alone here aren’t doing well. More than 45% of mothers raising children by themselves are in poverty. That’s why turning this economy around is so important. The best “program” for any struggling family is a job that pays a living wage. That’s what I’m focusing on for every Phoenix family.
When I look back on growing up, and seeing how my mother struggled with rationing food stamps every month, I can only imagine how hard it is now. I don’t think I know anyone that can live off of $29 a week, or a family that can make it on only $97.
Do you think you could live off of $29 as a single person, or $97 as a family of 4?