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Councilmember Challenges You to Eat on $5 a Day

Councilmember Valerie Ervin is the latest elected official to try to eat with a food stamp budget.

If you have never had the challenge of feeding yourself with only the amount of money allotted to you by a government food stamp program, a Montgomery County Councilwoman wants you to simulate the experience.

"SNAP the Silence" is an effort by Councilmember Valerie Ervin (D-Dist 5) to get elected officials as well as everyday folks to empathize with people who depend on federal food benefits, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, for sustenance. 

The challenge is for a person to spend only $5 a day on food, which is a little bit more than the $4.28 average daily allowance per person for people participating in SNAP. 

"The current economic crisis has forced more people than ever to ask for public assistance," said Ervin in a statement. "This experience will give all of us a better understanding of what so many people in our nation—and many in our county—go through on a daily basis."

Ervin isn't the first elected official to take up the SNAP challenge. Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker received considerable national media attention when he spent only $30 to eat for one week in December. 

About 65,200 Montgomery County residents were receiving SNAP benefits as of last October, according to a statement from the County Council. For the latter part of 2012, an average of 2,400 households applied for benefits each month. 

Ervin's challenge is from Monday, Feb. 4, to Friday, Feb. 8. Sign up online: http://tinyurl.com/snapthesilence

Are you participating in the challenge? Tell us in the comments!

Also, we invite you to start a blog on Wheaton Patch to post updates and food photos during the challenge to raise awareness.

Citizen X February 02, 2013 at 06:11 PM
The point of the food stamp program was never to fully care for your needs to the level you "prefer". A 20 pound bag of rice, lentils and beans is well within this limit, but while working in a grocery store I have very rarely seen customers with food stamps do this. On the contrary, I've seen premium ice cream and candy purchased with cheddar cheese and alike. There are also charitable soup kitchens, church pantries and friends and family. The standard should not be to "comfortably" feed a family on food stamps. People are not starving in this county- just the opposite!

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