Several lawmakers at all levels of government are giving the food stamp budget a shot, finding out just how far $29 per week will go.
State Rep. Mark Cardenas, for example, went to a Phoenix supermarket on the slim budget to see what he could get that would feed him for a week.
"You have pork chops for $3," Cardenas said.
Cardenas is joining several others throughout the nation for Hunger Awareness Month. The challenge, organized by The Arizona Community Action Association, is to live on just $29 a week - a similar budget to those who rely on food stamps.
Robin O'Fallon is one of thousands in Arizona getting by on the federal program.
"I'm hoping something better is going to happen," O'Fallon said.
She's been homeless and hungry, and every week, O'Fallon stretches each penny to feed herself and her family. However, her challenge is different.
"You're basically spending your money on sugar products to survive," she said.
While food stamps won't make her go hungry, she says it forces her to buy unhealthy products like soda, low-grade beef and highly processed foods.
"You saw as soon as we walked in, the soda was a dollar, the cakes and pies were $3," Cardenas pointed out.
As the Arizona lawmaker stocked his shopping cart with Ramen Noodles and products to make bologna sandwiches for a week, he was forced to drop the pork chops.
"News that there is an effort in Washington, DC, to scale down this program concerns me greatly," Cardenas said.
While food stamps are funded by federal tax dollars, there are several programs at the state level that benefit low-income families.
Cardenas may not have a say in what Congress does with the food stamp program but he does secure funding for state programs like low-income school lunches, and after his experience working on a limited budget, he says he's more likely to think twice before authorizing cuts to similar programs.
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