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Food Stamps: Democrats In Congress Attempt To Eat On $4.50 A Day To Protest Potential Budget Cuts

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FOOD STAMP BUDGET CUTS
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (L) and U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) speak to reporters after touring a Pacific Gas and Electric gas line replacement construction site with on May 19, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier toured the San Bruno gas explosion site and a construction site where gas lines are being replaced. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) | Getty Images
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Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) along with eight other congressional Democrats are eating on a budget of about $4.50 a day to show solidarity with food stamp recipients who receive $32.59 a week.

The personal thrift, which is part of a challenge organized by Fighting Poverty With Faith, was reported by Pacifica Patch. The site also listed the food items that Speier was now buying.

Speier displayed some of the items she was able to purchase for her first day of living on a food stamp budget: a bag of coffee and a loaf of bread from the Dollar Warehouse; a can of Campbell's low sodium chicken noodle soup; and a can of sweet peas, possibly to put in a tuna casserole later in the week.

"And this is my treat for the week," Speier said, holding up a box of microwave popcorn packets.

Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), along with his wife and daughter, chose to live on a food stamp budget of about $1.59 per meal. He tweeted about the challenge, relaying that he ate "generic cereal and part of a banana for breakfast."

Food stamps have been a target of Republican-led budget cuts. House Budget Committee Chair Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) proposed transfering the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, into a block grant program administered by the states.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) recently told ABC's "Top Line" that the food stamp program was "out of control" and being abused by "multimillion-dollar lottery winners." (After a Michigan man drew attention for still receiving food stamps despite winning the lottery, state lawmakers began asking recipients about their financial assets.)

The number of people relying on food stamps has risen as a consequence of the recession. Over 40 million individuals and 19 million households used the program in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In addition to Speier and Courtney, Reps. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Jim Moran (D-Va.) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) have also decided to trim down their food budget in solidarity.

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