Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 10:13 a.m.
By this point, we're desensitized towards larger-than-life headlines of Newark Mayor Cory Booker. This guy is saving people from fires, handing out toilet paper to the distressed during blizzards, mediating on bulletproof vests for bodega owners and, who knows, maybe even preparing a Presidential run. So is there anything he can't do? Well, we're about to find out.
Called out by a Twitter follower (one out of his 1.2 million) named TwitWit on the role of government in citizenry nutrition and food stamps, Booker got into a verbal back-and-forth that led to him asking a simple question: "Let's you and I try to live on food stamps in New Jersey (high cost of living) and feed a family for a week or month. U game?"
The tweeter agreed and, since then, attention has been building towards the challenge as Mayor Cory Booker affirms to followers that he's ready to do this to prove a point. TwitWit identified herself
as a 39-year-old woman from North Carolina to the Associated Press but has chosen to remain anonymous due to threats from users over her views on food stamps. For this reason, the tweets between the Mayor and the user have been deleted.
In New Jersey, the average monthly benefit of food stamps (NJ Supplementary Nutritional Assistance Program, or NJ SNAP
for brevity) is around $133.26 as of the last fiscal year. If you do some simple division, that's $33.32 a week. Damn.
According to the Mayor
, the challenge will begin after Thanksgiving - he has confirmed the start date as December 4th and to end on December 11th. He's in the process of drawing up the rules and guidelines to how it's going to work (from now on, call it the #SNAPChallenge) and it may go longer than a week if need be:
Bare in mind that it will be video-recorded - the Mayor has always been a fan of broadcasting his activities, just like when he lost weight and kept followers in the loop on Facebook and Twitter. If this is political transparency in the Digital Era, well, alright then.
The challenge will be rigidly organized in order to show citizens skeptical of the food stamp program that the raw safety net is a necessity for many of those barely eking it. If that's the case, let the challenge begin.