Jun 152007

From Ari Armstrong:

Media Release

‘Serious’ food-stamp challenge expanded after Denver Post refuses

Contact: Ari Armstrong, 303.412.8366

The “2007 Food Stamp Challenge,” in which various public officials, activists, and journalists ate on $3.57 or less per day, resulted in numerous calls for increasing the tax dollars spent on food stamps.

Ari Armstrong replied, “The original Challenge was not a fair test. The participants I’ve read about didn’t make a serious effort to economize in their food purchases. My mom used to feed our family with nutritious meals for far less than that amount, accounting for inflation. My wife and I are so confident that we can eat on less than $3 per person per day that we’re willing to do it for a full six months, not the mere week specified by the original Challenge.

“There’s a catch: for each dollar we come in under budget over that period, supporters of increasing the food-stamp subsidy have to collectively pay $10 to a nonprofit of our choice.

“I’ll call this ‘The Serious Food Economy Challenge’.”

The Armstrongs originally made this challenge to Diane Carman and the editorial writers of The Denver Post, none of whom agreed to the challenge, even though they suggested that the current food-stamp budget is inadequate.

“This just goes to show that these writers for The Denver Post lack the courage of their convictions,” Armstrong said.

The Denver Post also declined to publish Armstrong’s response as a guest editorial. It is available here.

Armstrong criticized several food choices made by participants of the original challenge:

  • Bill Scanlon of the Rocky Mountain News admits to wasting part of his budget on Ramen noodles.

    Yet, according to NutritionData.com, this food has little nutritional value. No good points are mentioned for the food under the web page’s opinion. The web page states, “This food is high in Saturated Fat and Sodium.” (Scanlon didn’t specify the exact type of noodles, so the exact nutritional content may vary.)

    “It’s no wonder that when people spend their limited budget on food that’s not very good for them, they don’t feel so great,” Armstrong said.

  • Roxane White, manager for Denver Human Services, wasted $5.46 on “instant soups” and $7.45 on “five prepackaged frozen meals,” according to the Rocky Mountain News.

    “If White can’t economize any better than that, then I have to wonder why she’s trusted with a tax-funded job that oversees the spending of tax dollars. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that instant soup and frozen dinners aren’t the best value for the money, especially while on a tight budget,” Armstrong said.

  • Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper ate “a dinner of a baked potato topped with Velveeta cheese,” reports The Denver Post’s editorial board.

    According to NutritionData.com, Velveeta cheese is “a good source of Calcium, and a very good source of Phosphorus.” However, it “is very high in Saturated Fat and Sodium,” and it gets only one of five stars for “optimum health.”

    Armstrong summarized: “The argument that the food stamp budget should be increased because it’s impossible to eat nutritiously on $3 or $3.57 per person per day is fallacious. And my wife and I are prepared to prove it.
    All we ask for our trouble is that the advocates of more tax spending for food stamps agree to fund the nonprofit of our choice once we prove them wrong.”

    More detailed rules for The Serious Food Economy Challenge may be found here.

Knowing Ari and his wife, I’m absolutely certain that they could eat perfectly comfortably on $3 per day for years. Go Ari!

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