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Cory Booker’s Food Stamp Falsehoods

Cynical political opportunism.

by
Tom Blumer

Bio

December 16, 2012 - 12:00 am

Both FRAC and Booker conveniently ignore what the “S” in “SNAP” stands for: “Supplemental.” The USDA’s “Fact Sheet on Resources, Income, and Benefits” clearly explains why challenge participants limiting themselves to $28-$30 a week are being disingenuous:

The amount of benefits the household gets is called an allotment. The net monthly income of the household is multiplied by .3, and the result is subtracted from the maximum allotment for the household size to find the household’s allotment. This is because SNAP households are expected to spend about 30 percent of their resources on food.

As has been the case for the five-plus years I’ve been following the challenge, FRAC and other leftist advocates have deliberately ignored how the food stamp program really works. The following shows how much a household with no other available resources will receive in monthly benefits during the current fiscal year (converted to weekly by yours truly for comparative purposes), and what those levels were six years ago:

FoodStampTable2007and2013

Note that Maximum Monthly Allotments have increased by 29% in six years. During that time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food costs have risen roughly 20%.

The mayor’s “challenge” obviously should have been how to get by on $46.03 a week. That’s easy, especially for a vegetarian like Booker:

  • Seven 15-ounce cans of various generic or store-brand vegetables should cost no more than about 80¢ each, for a total of $6 (rounded). Each can supposedly has 3.5 servings, but since Booker is an ex-football player, I’ll assume that each can will only last him two meals. That’s 14 meals, or enough for a full week of lunches and dinners.
  • Seven 15-ounce or 20-ounce cans of generic or store-brand fruits averaging $1.25 each will cost $9 (rounded). That’s also enough for all required lunches and dinners.
  • A gallon of milk and a gallon of orange juice come in at a combined $7 or so, enough to provide a 12-ounce serving of one or the other for all 21 weekly meals.

That leaves $24, which is surely enough to provide for all breakfasts and anything else Booker wants to add to his lunches and dinners, including more generous servings of fruits and vegetables. Meat-eaters could spend about $7 for seven cans (14 servings) of heat-and-eat canned pasta and still have $17 left for all breakfasts.

Astute shoppers certainly recognize that my individual cost figures are far higher than one will pay if they shop aggressively. Additionally, I didn’t even look at substituting often cheaper fresh fruits and vegetables or at purchasing in bulk. I daresay that frugal Walmart shoppers could easily feed themselves adequately in most parts of the country on less than $35 a week, and far less than $200 a month.

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