DNC Chair Is Eating on Less Than $5 a Day

When Florida Congresswoman and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz shared on twitter that she just ate a tuna sandwich, an apple, and had water for lunch, she wasn’t making a statement about the pressures of finding a place to eat in D.C., or a hectic lifestyle that left little time for a big meal.  Instead, she was providing a glimpse into her first impressions as she underwent the “Food Stamp Challenge,” a yearly contest to see what it is like to try and survive for one week on the same amount of grocery money provided to those on governmental food assistance.

With $31 a week to spend, Wasserman Schultz posted her first four days of grocery shopping, already totaling $18, more than half her weekly allowance.  And, with just one photo, she also displayed one of the biggest issues facing those who are food insecure and are trying to survive on very little grocery budget.

With potatoes, bread, tortillas and two boxes of macaroni and cheese, her diet would be very high on starch, and although she has chili, tuna and peanut butter to provide protein and apples and bananas for fruit, the first half of the week is almost entirely devoid of vegetables or dairy.

Food insecurity isn’t just about being physically hungry, but also about missing key nutrients that allow people to remain healthy simply because those foods just aren’t affordable.  As anyone who has been to a grocery store can tell you, a gallon of milk costs about $3 or more, nearly a tenth of the weekly $30 budget.

You can watch the Chairwoman share her experience on twitter here, and provide her with advice on how to best spend her money, too.

For Wasserman Schultz, the challenge will be over in a few days, and she will be back to her normal diet and budget.  For one out of five Americans, this is an ongoing struggle.


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Food Costs Go Up, Food Stamp Funding To Go Down

GOP Tries To Cut Food Stamps While People Line Up For Formula

Food Stamp Use Rises As Employers Refuse To Pay Living Wages

Photo from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Debbie_Wasserman_Schultz.jpg" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons


Lika S.
Lika P7 years ago

Well, at my house, it would calculate at the same amount. For my family of 3, it would equal about $5/day/person that we have for food.

Guess what? We eat at least one fruit a day, fresh or frozen veggies, whole grain bread, and meat. Of course we're limited to hamburger, chicken and roasts that are on sale, for a reasonable price, and fresh produce that are in season and on sale, etc... I cook all my own food at home, no pre-fab. Buy bulk.

My computers are hand me downs that got repaired. I shop at second hand shops, don't buy stuff I don't need, and well, I eke by. I don't have debt, so compared to others in my income bracket, I do pretty well.

Sheri P.
Sheri P7 years ago

Kudos to her for putting herself in the shoes of the poor...

SeattleAnn S.
Ann S7 years ago

She's the most awesome politician in all of Florida.

Julie F.
Julie F7 years ago

thanks for the article.

Kelly M.
Kelly R7 years ago

Kind of reminded me of that Secret Millionaire show when they went grocery shopping

Diane L.
Diane L7 years ago

Victoria, just e-mailed the 23-yr-old, as he doesn't live with me anymore. He was cut off SSI two months ago, but still has free medical, and still gets $180/month in food stamps. He lives with two other guys his age, and one works, one gets money from a trust fund for life, so they can eat pretty comfortbly, actually. The 23-yr-old just no longer can raid MY pantry after his food stamps are gone, which they always were by the 15th of the month. He got them on the 10th.

His Mother also still gets food stamps AND SSI, but she says the SSI is going to be eliminated soon unless Gregoire signs another bill authorizing extensions. I DO feel for you trying to exist on that, and wish you were closer, as I'd be happy to share what I have with you, seriously :)

Diane L.
Diane L7 years ago

Strange, that, Victoria. I know for fact my son's drug-addicted girlfriend, who smoked pot, mini-cigars, ate nothing but junkfood got $771/month from SSI, PLUS food stamps, and it was about $180/month for just herself. My son also got food stamps (not working) so because they were not married, it was over $350/month between the two of them, PLUS they went to the food bank and were ELIGIBLE for free stuff, a basket once a month, and that included $20 in food vouchers for meat or fresh produce. My other relative got $338/month from SSI at the age of 23. He was very able to work, just didn't want to. I saw his direct deposit. It wasn't welfare, but SSI, and he also got $238/month in food stamps, I saw his EBT card when I took him shopping. This was a year ago, and I know Governor Gregoire has cut many programs, but still, it's not down to $31/week.

Victoria M.
Past Member 7 years ago

Diane i live in washington and i was getting 16$ a month :P

Past Member
Past Member 7 years ago

I admire her for doing this to make a very important point. I'm thinking the government could whittle away millions of dollars from useless, reckless spending such as on wars and under the table spending, and put all that money into something worth while~ say help our own American people live healthy lives. Proper food and proper health care are some things MILLIONS of Americans are lacking every day! It's time to take care of our own here at home and then share the wealth with others less fortunate. If every country would take care of and treat their own people with respect and loyalty, then we would have a very happy world indeed. Maybe that's idealism, but wouldn't that be wonderful!?!?!

Rebecca Smith
Rebecca Smith7 years ago

I applaud Ms. Wasserman Schultz for doing this, it will hopefully make many more people who are not on food stamps aware of the issues that surround it, such as malnutrition and the rising food prices.