He repeats the assertion - a false one - that you can live on $23 a week, but not in a healthy way. Too bad he didn't read my blog post before embarking upon this ridiculous marketing/lobbying stunt, otherwise, he would have known how to pick healthy foods on a limited budget...kind of like what millions of us do every day - and not just one week of the year.
"It turned out to be a week of doing without.
No juice. No Diet Coke. No coffee. No English muffins. No dessert. No bottled water."
Oh my! If I'm dependent upon the generosity of others to be able to eat, I might have to do without pop, coffee, English muffins and dessert? How TERRIBLE!
By the way, when I demonstrated the ludicrous nature of this stunt, I was able to buy several packs of Jello - plenty dessert for one person for several weeks.
And to go without bottled water??? Oh the humanity! Um...perhaps he hasn't read his own paper enough to know that Toledo has some of the best drinking water in the nation. Why would you need to purchase bottled anything if you can get it for free?
Additionally, he writes:
"While I was struggling through the week, however, I knew I was only going to do it for seven days. For too many people, living on a $23 grocery budget isn't a seven-day test, it's a way of life."
Here's where the whole 'reporting' thing falls apart. No one gets $23 a week to live on if they get Food Stamps. That is just the average and it supplements what families already have to spend. According to the USDA website, if you're a single person without any other source of income, you'd actually get $40.51 per week - which is actually 173% more than the $23 being used in the bogus challenge. That's $176 per month, and you get it all at once at the beginning of the month on a debit card - which means you have the ability to purchase many things in bulk, cook meals ahead of time and divide and freeze them, ensuring enough healthy meals for the entire month.
So why didn't the reporters participating in this bogus challenge actually look at the facts? Why didn't they do a simple search to see if the dollar amount was accurate? Did they just take the information provided in a press release as 'gospel'?
More insidiously, did they research the information and then ignore it so they could do the story designed to appeal to our hearts rather than to our minds? Are they so easily duped into participation because they want to 'feel' rather than 'think'? Or did they purposefully ignore the facts in order to promote the not-so-hidden agenda of lobbyists?
Either they're ignorant or deceitful - you decide. But the worst part about this whole thing is that the purpose of the 'challenge' is to fail. They don't want to know how it can be done, they want 'evidence' of how it can't. Then the Food Research and Action Center can take this evidence to Washington and lobby for more handouts.
Fellow blogger Tom Blumer followed up on this story with a post on Newsbusters.org. I think he says it all when he writes:
What I said back in March, with minor updating, still holds:
Those who have a problem with benefit levels need to tell us what, if anything, is wrong with the formulas that reduce Maximum Allotments, and work with federal legislators to change them. But instead of doing that constructive work, politicians and advocates have spent over a year taking part in media-grandstanding “Food Stamp Challenges” and other silly exercises, all based on the bogus assumption, without providing any proof, that the net benefit is "all that participants have for food." By insisting on (excuse the expression) feeding us this garbage, they’ve squandered their credibility. If they really believe that Food Stamp recipients are being shortchanged, they have, by posturing on a false premise, helped to perpetuate that situation, and have done nothing to alleviate it.
Here's a better challenge to The Blade: use some of your reporters to actually report on the situation rather than be pawns in a marketing campaign; have someone observe grocery stores and see what people using the Food Stamp cards actually purchase; interview those people to find out why they bought what they did and how they plan to prepare it; don't accept a press release as 'gospel,' even in the religion section of the paper; be a newspaper - not a propaganda machine. We'll all be better off as a result, including those who have little to live on.