45.2 million know what it's like; Could you survive on food stamps?
Washington, October 5, 2011 - The director of the National Council of Churches Poverty Initiative is calling on Americans to feel a greater empathy for persons struggling to survive in the current economy.
"In everything do to others as you would have them do to you," said the Rev. Michael Livingston, quoting from Jesus' sermon on the mount, Matthew 7:12. "This golden rule has been cited or rephrased in nearly every religion known. It is the glue that binds us together as a human family, especially in times of common need."
Livingston noted that a member of Congress has challenged her colleagues to spend a week finding out what it is like to live on food stamps, and he challenged members of churches and religious groups to do the same.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), co-chair of the Congressional Out of Poverty Caucus, issued the 2011 Food Stamp Challenge to last from October 27 to November 3.
"The USDA recently reported that 14.5 percent of Americans are food insecure," Lee reported to members of Congress. "In June of this year, a staggering 45.2 million Americans filed to get food stamps because they either are facing or living in poverty. More than half of food stamp recipients are children and 8 percent are individuals over the age of 60."
She challenged her colleagues to spend a week attempting to live on "what a person on food stamps survives on."
Persons on food stamps receive $133.79 per month, Lee said, which amounts to $31.50 a week, $4.50 a day, or $1.50 a meal.
Livingston said millions of Americans would be hard put to live on the food stamp program. "We often hear people express the belief that persons living in poverty are well cared-for in this country," Livingston said. "Anyone who accepts Representative Lee's challenge to step into the shoes of food stamp recipients will quickly realize how difficult their lives must be."
Livingston said he hoped the exercise will convince members of Congress "that there is also an urgent need to protect the budget of all government programs that support persons living in or facing poverty.
"Doing unto others must be a fundamental rule of government," Livingston said. "Experiencing how others live is a first step toward putting that rule into action."
Persons interested in participating in the food stamp challenge as well as other Mobilization related strategies should check out the fighting poverty with faith webpage.
To register to take the Food Stamp Challenge click here.