Mayor Booker on day 5 of food stamp challenge

Posted: 12/08/12 at 10:55 pm EST      Last Updated: 12/08/12 at 11:07 pm EST

NEWARK, N.J. (WHDH) -- After an online challenge, Mayor Cory Booker spent the past week living entirely off food stamps.

It's a high profile challenge that he says may be his most important act in office yet.

The latest challenge for Mayor Booker was to feed himself for a full week on about $30.

“Look how expensive the corn is,” said Booker.

That's what the average person on food stamps gets in his city where one in three people live below the poverty line.

"It was 29 dollars and like 78 cents. It got me a lot of cans, about 17 cans if I remember. It got me seven sweet potatoes, three bags of broccoli and cauliflower frozen, two bags of salad, two apples, which I am savoring already this week. A bottle of oil, in order to cook it, but also use as salad dressing,” said Booker.

On day one, the vegetarian ate a simple salad of beans and corn for dinner.

"Do you feel, do you feel like you had enough to eat?"

"I actually do, but I, I really miscalculated. And so there's so much that I take for granted when it comes to consumption,” said Booker.

The mayor's food stamp challenge began when Booker got into a debate on Twitter with a woman who wrote that "nutrition is not a responsibility of the government."

Booker's reply: "lets you and I try to live on food stamps" ... Now known as SNAP.

"If it becomes a distant memory then nothing's changed. And so hopefully things like this can help expand our consciousness and motivate us to act on a more consistent basis. And so maybe people can realize there's a can of something I don't really eat in my cupboard and how precious that was to me during my SNAP challenge, let me support my local food, food banks even more. So let me support my food kitchens more,” said Booker.

Mayor Booker certainly has his critics and he's also not the first to take on this challenge.

Just last month, Philadelphia's mayor and a Pennsylvania congressman did it as well.

The number of Americans relying on food stamps continues to grow, up almost 46 percent in the past four years.

"I was surprised on Twitter to see how many people were engaging with me with this presum-- a presumption that people on programs like SNAP don't work-- that people on programs like SNAP are lazy these are hardworking families who care about their kids, who play by the rules, who often work harder than other Americans."

"Do you understand sometimes where people are coming from when they say, "Look, you know what? Pull it together. My family did it. My parents did it. That's what I learned how to do."

"Right, well, that's a lie. It is. What you want to create is communities of compassion, where we're all aware that, hey, somebody next to me is struggling-- there's challenges around me. And by the way, that's not their struggle. That's my struggle, too. Because in order for our city to be successful, we all have to be invested in each other's success,” said Booker.

It's day five of the mayor's SNAP challenge.

He said he's concerned about running out of food and has experienced headaches from caffeine withdrawal yet he still says that overall this has been an encouraging experience.

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