United States Representative Jim McGovern (of Massachusetts’$2 3rd District) and his wife Lisa spent the past week living on a food budget of $21 a week to call attention to the woeful insufficiency of food stamp allotments across the United States. They’ve been keeping a really interesting and thoughtful blog about their experiences and have quickly come to the conclusion that anyone who has had to live on that type of a budget is familiar with: $3 a day is simply not enough money to eat sufficiently. Admirably, McGovern refused free food at receptions and fundraisers (one of his better anecdotes is about scarfing down a tiny egg and cheese sandwich his wife brought to a fundraiser and being looked at incredulously) and instead subsisted on a diet composed of tiny meals that seem more like snacks. Although the McGoverns freely admit that this is something of a publicity stunt and that, since they knew their food stamp experiment was finite, their experience was not at all representative of what a truly hungry person goes through every day, their realizations were fascinating and affecting. Not only were they permanently hungry, if not starving, but they also found that it was impossible to eat in the healthy manner to which they were accustomed.
Perhaps more interesting than the blog itself, however, are the comments left by readers. While some are extremely critical of the project (either from people critical of the project’s short duration or from folks wildly ignorant about the purpose of food stamps), most were supportive and offered tips from their own experiences with poverty. It’s fascinating reading and completely infuriating. There is no earthly reason why we as a country can’t make sure that everyone has enough to eat. None. Rep. McGovern, along with fellow Food Stamp Challenge participant Republican JoAnn Emerson of Missouri, is pushing to expand food stamp benefits which are tied up with, wait for it, the Farm Bill. We realize that we spend most of our time on this blog encouraging you to eat outrageously delicious and expensive things like sweetbreads, but we recognize that part of having the privilege of being able to afford such goodies is helping out those who can’t. Political activism is even better than offal. Contact your legislators and let them know how you feel.