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Our family’s week on a food stamp budget

I love to eat. You won't catch me on any diets or purifying cleanses or experiments in going gluten- or lactose-free. I plan meals in my dreams, and put baking ingredients on my Amazon wish list. My idea of going voluntarily hungry is waiting until the previews are over to open the candy. And I'm lucky as hell, because unlike one in every six Americans who don't have a choice in the matter, I don't have to go hungry.

After I wrote about Cory Booker's decision last month to take the SNAP Challenge – to take "a view of what life can be like for millions of low-income Americans" – I couldn't get the idea of it out of my head. The challenge is simple in concept but demanding in its execution: see what it's like to live for one week on a food budget equivalent to your state's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program's (SNAP) benefits. Participants can use their existing spices and condiments, but no other foodstuffs, nor they can accept food "from friends, family, or at work." Because I live in New York, I'd have a slightly more generous allowance than New Jersey's Booker got – a total of $36.86 for a week of eating. And because my two daughters are awesome, they said they wanted to do it too as I soon as I mentioned to them. So for the past week, we've been eating on a little over five bucks a person per day.

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