Cory Booker’s First Day on Food Stamps: Can’t Afford Coffee and Long Periods Without Food

For the next seven days, and at a time when Congress is considering $16 billion in cuts to the federal program, Booker will put himself in the same position as 850,000 other New Jerseyans who receive food stamps each month.

By Jorge Rivas Dec 05, 2012

Newark Mayor Cory Booker says he went without food for long periods throughout his first day on the SNAP Challenge. The normally caffeinated mayor also complained he couldn’t afford coffee or Diet Pepsi.

Booker started a weeklong Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) challenge Tuesday, testing his ability to survive off a $30 food budget for a week.(The average weekly food stamps assistance for someone in New Jersey is $30.)

Booker’s decision to live on food stamps for one week came after someone on Twitter told him that "nutrition is not a responsibility of the government." Booker challenged her and volunteered to take the SNAP Challenge.

Booker will have to survive off 17 cans of beans, seven yams, two bags of frozen vegetables and two apples for the next seven days.

"For the first time, in a very long time, I am considering every meal and the cost of the food I am eating," Booker wrote on his SNAPChallenge blog.

"I am unable to afford coffee or other caffeinated beverages on the SNAP budget. I cannot remember the last time I started the day without a cup of coffee," Booker went on to write. He also can’t afford his other signature vice, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Because many people don’t have social safety nets, the guidelines of the SNAPChallenge don’t allow Booker to accept food from family or friends.

Booker is only on day two but he says he’s already learned a lot.

"If I could go back and do it over again, I definitely would have gotten a dozen eggs and I would have clipped coupons," Booker told