Dem unpacks grocery bags on House floor to describe hunger challenge

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) on Wednesday night unpacked a few bags of groceries on the House floor to demonstrate the paltry diet he'll live on for the next week.

Johnson is taking the food stamp challenge, under which he and several other members will live on just $31.50 worth of food for a week. Johnson and other Democrats are taking the challenge to highlight cuts to food stamps that are being proposed in both the House and Senate farm bill.

"I went to Safeway, and here is my bill," Johnson said as he unpacked his bags. "It is for $29.76."

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Johnson unpacked a container of Quaker Oats, which he said he might eat for breakfast or dinner. For breakfast, he also bought a box of Eggo waffles and some sugar-free syrup.

"They already have butter in them, so I didn't have to buy the butter," he said of the waffles.

He bought bacon, milk, tea, hot dogs, bananas and Ramen noodles. "I used to eat those a lot when I was in college," he said.

Johnson agreed that his week's worth of food is short on fruits and vegetables and said the store he went to didn't have much variety. He did try to buy broccoli, but that put him over his $31.50 limit.

"This is what I'm going to be eating for the next seven days, starting tomorrow," he said. "It's going to be a challenge.

"I certainly will not be eating three meals a day. I will eat in the morning, and then I will eat in the evening."

Johnson said that his food choices are not the healthiest, but what he chose should keep the hunger pangs away. He openly wondered how kids can live on this budget, and said he's not sure how ready he'd be to learn in school eating this way.

For kids and families around the country, "This is reality," he said.

The Senate passed its farm bill this week. The $955 billion bill cuts $23 billion over 10 years compared to current spending levels — $4 billion of that is from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The House bill would spend $940 billion, and cuts $20.5 billion from SNAP over 10 years.

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