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New York on $4 a day

(article, Caroline Cummins)

A month ago, we reported on our state governor's decision to eat only what he could buy on food stamps for a week. That boiled down — sorry, folks — to $3 a day per person (Gov. Kulongoski's wife joined him in this endeavor) and, yes, instant noodle soup.

This week, the New Yorker reports, a city councilman in Queens named Eric Gioia has pulled the same stunt, eating for a week on what a typical New Yorker gets in food stamps. Compared to Oregonians, New Yorkers live large; food-stamp recipients get $4 a day to dine on. 

"Gioia's diet consisted primarily of pasta, white bread, vegetables, and tap water — the anti-Atkins," wrote Ben McGrath. By the fifth day, Gioia had chowed through his provisions and meekly returned to a Food Dynasty store to spend his remaining $3.56. Salvation came when the week was up, in the form of a home-cooked meal made by his mom and sister.

Four other members of Congress joined Gioia in his efforts, taking the Food Stamp Challenge. Why the PR dance around food stamps? Well, the national food-stamp program is up for reauthorization this year. And, as McGrath put it, "President Bush has threatened to cut the program by hundreds of millions of dollars over the next several years, even though food-stamp provisions have not been properly adjusted for inflation since 1996." That's something to chew on — if you can afford it.

Finally, here's a fun factoid about Gioia: His college roommate was Morgan Spurlock, of "Super Size Me" fame. And like Spurlock, who packed on the pounds during his monthlong Mickey D's diet, Gioia needed only three days on a carb-heavy, food-stamp-funded diet to gain two pounds.