Mayor Cory Booker said Saturday he has completed his weekly grocery shopping in preparation for the “SNAP challenge,” a pledge to temporarily live off a food budget equal to that received by people enrolled in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Booker, who will be taking the challenge from Dec.4 to Dec. 11, said he spent exactly $29.78, a shade less than he was entitled to based on 2011 data from the program. In New Jersey last year, the average SNAP participant received about $133 a month, or a little more than $4 a day.
Booker’s involvement arose out of an exchange last month on one of the mayor’s preferred methods of communication, Twitter. Responding to a North Carolina woman who tweeted “nutrition is not the responsibility of the government,” Booker eventually invited her to take the challenge with him.
Booker is just the latest public official to take part in the challenge. Former Utah Gov. John Huntsman, who was briefly in the running for the Republican presidential nomination earlier this year, as well as the mayors of Las Vegas and Phoenix and several members of Congress, have all lived off the equivalent of the Spartan government benefits.
Celebrity chef Mario Batali and Josh Malina, who starred on the NBC television series The West Wing, have also participated.