The Politics of Poverty

Ideas and analysis from Oxfam America's policy experts

Will you take the food aid challenge?

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You too can live on international food aid.

Former Congressman and current NYC mayoral candidate, Anthony Weiner, yesterday became the latest political figure to take-on the “Food Stamp Challenge,” an effort to show what life is really like for the millions of American’s who scrape by on a meager $3(ish) per day they receive in SNAP benefits. A similar challenge exists for those, like Vice President Biden’s sons, Hunter and Beau, who want to “Live Below the Line” and experience how the poorest people in the world meet their daily needs on less than $1.50(!) per day.

FoodAidChallengeBoth challenges are creative and noble enterprises that help drum up publicity and support for efforts to fight poverty at home and abroad. So in that spirit, today I announce my newly-created “Food Aid Challenge” to show what it is like to live on emergency food aid.

I personally challenge anyone who opposes common sense reforms to food aid to join me in taking up this test of personal fortitude. If they feel the same way after completing the “Food Aid Challenge,” I’ll walk their dog for a week.

 

Here’s how the Food Aid challenge works:

Step 1:  Calculate the minimum weekly budget for food that you could live on.

Step 2: Take 50% of that amount in cash, put it in a bucket and light it on fire. (Less than half of our food aid budget is actually spent on food.)

Step 3: With your remaining cash, go to a store that sells international food items that are not part of your normal diet. (IMPORTANT: Do not go to your usual grocery store or shop around for the best possible price. Do not buy food that you like to eat. That would be against challenge rules.) Purchase these unfamiliar items in bulk with all of your remaining money.

Step 4: Go to Fedex and ask that these items be shipped to you 3-6 months from now. (IMPORTANT: Do not shop around at other places for the best possible quote for shipping these items. That too would be illegal.)

Step 5: Wait until your shipments arrive. Find a way to scrape by without spending any money to feed yourself.

Step 6: Enjoy your bulk food shipment when it arrives!

Too easy? Try the Monetization Challenge. This is exactly the same as the Food Aid challenge except after Step 5, instead of eating the food, you must sell the full shipment at your local farmers market. You’ll be undercutting other vendors’ prices, making back whatever you can get for this food. (You’ll probably only get back about 50-75% of what you bought the food for in the first place.)

Then all you have to do is use whatever proceeds you have left from the sale of the shipped food to start a project that you believe will help fight poverty or hunger in your community!

It is soooo simple! Ok, who’s with me?!

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