Dear Gwyneth Paltrow,
I truly applaud you for your attempt at a foodstamps experience. You are doing something wonderful by shedding light on the 47 million Americans living on Foodstamps in this country. Truly, America is in a crisis and the 1% continues to be in denial.
However, as a mother living on the poverty line, living on food stamps, I must point out a flaw in your plan. You are only engaging in this experiment for one week. This is not nearly long enough to gain the experience and wisdom you are seeking on this journey.
So I offer you a challenge: Go for a month. Don’t budget $29 a week, because that’s not how families on food stamps, or 3 Squares in my area, live. You are also missing a huge part of the experience.
Start out with a completely empty kitchen. By the time the next month rolls around most Foodstamp families have to completely restock. Find out how much your family would get for Foodstamps for a month. Try to get those staples. And whatever you can’t, go to a foodshelf every week and fill in the rest. If you run out of food (it’s heartbreaking, but it’s a reality) and money, go to a soup kitchen. In fact, I encourage you to try this once anyways as the experience is incredibly humbling.
Give yourself $1000 for the month. Pay rent, pay for your car, your gas, electric, your insurance, cable, internet, whatever services you use. See how far you can go.
I am a single mom. I live this way, month to month, never able to afford a savings. My son and I struggle in an economy not suited for the poor. My town is a lovely mix of Liberals, hippies, yuppies, organic crunchies, and every now and then hosts a protest or two. The prices are for those who can afford it, and unfortunately the rest are left to suffer. But I still love my town and its melting pot of hippie flavor.
There are flea markets, farmer’s markets, and even an entire three day weekend in June celebrating heiffers and the farmers who care for them 24/7.
I am extending a formal invitation to you. Come live in our town for a month. As we are on the internet i am not posting the name here on a blog. I invite you to come by yourself, or bring family. See if you can get an apartment for under $1000 or a single room under $400. My town is a perfect place for this experiment because we live in a place with small town charm, New York City prices and it is truly time for a light to be shined on this issue. I also offer my service as a guide through this town and this experiment.
I have noticed that you yourself have an incredibly healthy lifestyle. Because of the healthstores and donations from likeminded people, the food shelves are filled with foods my own mother spends hundreds of dollars on that I am picking up for free on a weekly basis. They even have gluten free selections.
Our local Farmers market is also set up to take foodstamps. I love taking my son there. We pick up a loaf of bread, some fresh berries or other fruit and sit on the ground, people watching.
So whether you decide to take me up on my invitation or attempt a month long experiment where you live, I highly encourage you to extend this past one week. A week is easy, its a piece of cake. Immerse yourself in this experience. Challenge yourself to go as long as you can. If you don’t make it, donate to your local shelters. If you do, celebrate with a big dinner for your family and friends. Make the whole thing less than $10 a person.
Again, I do applaud you on your mission to raise awareness on such an important issue. I just encourage that you go the distance. See what you are made of, and continue this journey.