The Food Stamp Challenges

The Food Stamp Challenges

Chris Phillips
May 23, 2007

Many people do not have enough to eat. They don't have the luxury of wandering through green markets and grocery stores picking up what ever food they please, as editorials in The New Yorker, Daily News and New York Times (subscription required) remind us

The New Yorker introduced us to the Food Stamp Challenge. Participants in the challenge eat only what a neighbor "could typically afford on a week's worth of food stamps." Here in New York City that's $28. New York City Councilman Eric Gioia, members of Congress, and organic blogger Rebecca Blood all took part in the food stamp challenge this week.

"As tough as this week has been for me, the sad fact is that it was nothing compared with what over 1.1 million New Yorkers face every day. Far too many New Yorkers make impossible choices among health care for their children, paying their rent or putting food on the table on a daily basis," wrote Gioia in The Daily News.

Also, in Less Green at the Farmers' Market we learned of new bills that were created to help hungry families and senior citizens buy fresh food.

The editorial explains that the program might not work at local farmer's markets:

Over the past 15 years, most states have switched from paper coupons for food stamps to debit cards, removing the stigma of redemption at the checkout counter. The WIC program, which still uses paper, will most likely do the same. Most farmers, of course, don't take plastic -- and, market managers say, they have seen their sales plummet with the switch from paper.

The editorial challenges us cooks, "a frequently well-financed, always opinionated special-interest group," to help help people learn about government benefits like food stamps and help farmers get the technology they need to accept digital food stamp payments. By the way, the same technology would likely allow them to accept credit cards too.

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