Best city councilman to tighten his belt (2008)

Eric Gioia

Free food and meals are some of the last legitimate perks that city council members are allowed to enjoy, but this past spring, Eric Gioia, a 34-year-old Harvard-educated representative from Long Island City, decided to see what it was like living on the maximum $28-a-week federal food-stamp allotment for the poor. He quickly found his budget dictated that he opt for starchy, poor-quality food. He asked the low-income women he shopped with why they didn't just save up and join a cheap bulk-food store like Costco. The answer, he learned, is that Costco doesn't even accept food stamps. Gioia promptly challenged the giant wholesaler to accept the federal checks. That fight continues. Gioia's got a good idea, but why stop at food stamps? Legislators might take a crack at seeing what it's like trying to live on the state's maximum shelter allowance for families on welfare. What, you think it might be a problem finding an apartment in New York City for a three-person family that rents for $309?


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