About one in seven Americans use food stamps, and Congresswoman Jackie Speier wants to experience what it is like to live on a food stamps budget.
Starting Monday, Speier, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, will participate in a food stamps challenge in which she will eat on a food budget of $4.50 a day for five days.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for administering the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the California average monthly benefit in fiscal year 2010 was $136.75, or approximately $4.50 a day.
Formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, SNAP provides more than 3.6 million Californians with benefits to help them purchase food for them and their families.
According to a statement from Speier's office, "with the poverty rate in the U.S. at a historic high of over 15 percent, she wants to experience firsthand how a growing number of Americans are forced to live in this tough economy."
SNAP benefits can be used to buy foods such as breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and meats, fish, and poultry.
Benefits cannot be used to purchase foods that will be eaten on site, hot foods, or alcoholic beverages, cigarettes or tobacco.
Soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack foods, and ice cream are considered food items, making them eligible for purchase, according to the USDA.
Speier is also assembling a group in the community to participate in the five-day food stamps challenge.
Students, faculty and staff at one Southern California college are undertaking a similar challenge this Sunday in which members of Occidental
College will try to feed themselves for a week on the same $4.50 per day budget.