Only one day into the Food Stamp Challenge New York City Councilman Eric Gioia started to feel the pangs of hunger that come with living on the meager food stamp allotment of $28 per week, according to an article in the Daily News. Gioia admitted to serious food cravings, especially when he sat down to dinner with his family who were enjoying a meal of lasagna, baked ziti and stuffed mushrooms, while he was limited to a ration of pasta with tomato sauce from a jar and a few slices of cucumber. His family is not participating in the Food Stamp challenge with him, as he has a baby daughter whom Gioia said, "just couldn't survive" on food stamps.
Now halfway into his week on the Food Stamp Challenge, Gioia has gained 2 pounds due to having to buy the cheapest food, which also tends to be the least nutritious. On his limited food stamp budget, he is forced to buy carbohydrates and items such as "sandwich slices" that are full of excessive amounts of salt, fat, and calories. Dr. Lara Kross of Brooklyn's Long Island College Hospital looked at Gioia's shopping list for the week, and said that living on such a diet for a week would not be too harmful, "But if he was eating like this long-term, I would worry about an increase in cholesterol and high blood pressure. Heart disease could also be a problem."
Four U.S. Representatives, James McGovern (D-MA), Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), Jan Shakowsky (D-IL), and Tim Ryan (D-OH), have joined the Food Stamp Challenge and pledged to live on an average food stamp budget of just $3 a day from May 15-21, 2007. They have invited other Members of Congress to join them in the challenge.