Do you ever watch reality shows? I am not a fan because most of the participants are ill-equipped to handle the assigned tasks. I mean really, if you have never lived without modern appliances using a wood cook stove is a tremendously difficult way to prepare dinner as in PBS 1900 HouseIf you have never been out of the city you’ll be a greater disadvantage living in the wilderness than the guy who built his own cabin in Frontier House.
So how realistic is the recent challenge to mayors and other celebrities to live off the allotted funds for food stamps? Greg Stanton the mayor of Phoenix did it for a week and complained that he barely had enough to eat, losing four pounds in the week. You can watch the clip below or read his diary on Facebook.
The mayor of Newark is planning to do the same next week. Both want to be able to empathize with families who are living off food stamps alone. It’s a nice gesture but does it have any basis in reality? The article about Mayor Booker states that he makes $13,400 a month. What are the chances that either of these mayors has cooked from scratch or actually purchased grocery staples that a family might use to stretch their food budget?
On the other hand to get a real feel for life on a shoestring budget I talked to Ro over at The Conservative Kitchen about Food Stamp assistance and reality. She has an interesting article on military finances at her November 30, blog. As an Army wife Ro explained many military families are eligible for Food Stamps, WIC and the like with assistance offices located right on base. They have to choose between needs and wants. Young wives with small children plan their menu before shopping so they can live within their meager budget. They quickly learn that packaged foods and ‘junk food’ are usually more expensive but still many don’t have cooking skills to make meals from scratch.
I think it’s noble and good that these mayors want to see the challenge of living off government assistance. But is it reality? Are these men able to make the best food purchase choices, remember the Phoenix mayor chose Top Ramen as part of his menu, probably because it was cheap. Did he discover that ramen noodles, popular choice of college students offers little nutrition and even less hunger satisfaction?
Perhaps if these mayors really want to understand living on Food Stamps while trying to feed a family they should eat with one of these military families rather than doing a big show that really doesn’t have much reality.