Recently 4 Congressmen took the challenge to find out what it's like to live on $21/week, the average amount received per person in food stamp subsidies. One of them was Congressman Tim Ryan, of Ohio (unfortunately I'm not in his district). What the congressmen discovered is $21 per person per week is woefully short of what people need to have decent food. Most, if not all of them lost weight during the week and were hungry constantly. Tim Ryan blogged about his experience. What I found as fascinating as his blogging about the experience were the comments he received from people who had actually had to live like that for more than week. I can't imagine being a mother having to send her children to bed with a "There's nothing to eat. The check is coming tomorrow and then we can go get some food." Representatives Jim McGovern (D-Mass) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), co-chairmen of the House Hunger Caucus, challenged congressmen to join them in taking the challenge to raise awareness of hunger and what they say are inadequate benefits for food stamp recipients. Only Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Ryan took them up on it. I'm so glad that at least these four had the courage and the compassion to take the challenge. I can only hope that it raises awareness of this problem in our country.
Unfortunately, I don't think the challenge got the press it should have. But, there are a couple of good articles about it.
Article in Washington Post
Blog kept by the Congressmen during the week
Article in Boston Globe featuring Jim McGovern
I say congratulations the the congressmen who took the challenge. We need more lawmakers like this. Hopefully, the experience has helped them develop the passion and compassion they'll need to actually get something done about this problem. No one in this country of plenty should go to bed hungry.