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Faith Leaders and Members of Congress Take the Food Stamp Challenge

October 31, 2011, 2:16 pm | Posted by Jess Brown

Outside a Capitol Hill Safeway last Thursday morning, faith leaders and members of Congress, made a pledge to take the Food Stamp Challenge–joining local SNAP (food stamp) benefit recipients in a rather challenging grocery trip: figuring out how to feed themselves for the week with only the program’s weekly benefit allotment of $31.50 to spend.

The program, sponsored by Fighting Poverty with Faith, is part of the organization’s effort to cut domestic poverty in half by 2020. A group led by Reps. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Donna Christensen (D-VI), officials from the Department of Agriculture (that administers the SNAP program) spoke about their own pledge to take this challenge with Reps. Norton and Christiansen joining clergy from the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths to snake their way through the aisles of Safeway making the same difficult decisions millions of Americans are forced to make every day.

Before the challenge, the participants echoed the protesters of the Occupy movement as they shared their thoughts on the millions of Americans in food insecure households.

Watch Rabbi Steve Gutow of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs explain the event:

Members of Congress also spoke about the ways that myths about poverty undermine support for this crucial program.

“I resent any notion that people are poor because of some perverted enjoyment in being poor, ” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

“Let me assure you that it’s not fraud that’s causing the rise of demand for nutrition assistance in American, but it’s the years of failed economic policies that have…lined the pockets of corporate billionaires and left that average American behind,” added Rep. Barbara Lee, former Chair of the CBC and Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

For more information, visit Fighting Poverty with Faith’s website.

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