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Congressmen Learn You Can't Live on Food Stamps

Washington Post story:

A pork chop and a bag of peanuts proved too tempting for Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), one of four members of Congress who has struggled for the past week to subsist on $21 worth of food -- the equivalent of benefits received by the average food stamp recipient.

Last Friday night, in New Hampshire to deliver a commencement speech, Ryan succumbed to a pork chop in the hotel restaurant because he feared he would otherwise be too weak to give the address.

Afterward, as he rushed to catch a flight back to Washington, airport security officials confiscated jars of peanut butter and jelly from his carry-on luggage, leaving him with nothing but a small bag of cornmeal to eat in the final days of the "Food Stamp Challenge," which ends today.

"It just showed me that when you're living on food stamps, you're really one event away from disaster," he said. "If you drop a jar of sauce or jam, you can lose an opportunity to eat. Some people are constantly living on that edge."

So yesterday, in the Cleveland airport on his way back to Washington from a funeral, Ryan bought a bag of peanuts. "I feel bad I couldn't do it the whole time, but I certainly got the point," said the lawmaker, who lost four pounds during the week and ended his test early, with dinner at a Washington restaurant last night.

Back in the 80s, my wife and I and our two boys had to get by on welfare for a couple years because the job market in our home town was simply destroyed by the first wave of globalization which wiped out our factory-based economy. Even then, a month's worth of stamps lasted about three weeks. The last week was mac 'n cheese or canned spaghetti every night. I understand that today's pickings are even slimmer and I hope that congress will act to ensure that people can actually survive on food stamps.

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