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'Food Stamp Challenge': Eating just $5 of food daily to support poor

The "Food Stamp Challenge" is to raise awareness about proposed changes to Pennsylvania's food stamp program.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger are asking area residents during the week of April 23 to live on $5 a day, which is the average food stamp benefit in Pennsylvania.

The "Food Stamp Challenge" is to raise awareness about proposed changes to Pennsylvania's food stamp program that would eliminate eligibility to those that have assets of more than $5,500 -- $9,000 for seniors -- on May 1.

One high-profile participant in the challenge will be U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, D-Philadelphia, whose congressional district is the second-poorest in the entire country.

"I want to demonstrate just how hard it is for struggling families to feed their families day after day," Brady said. "I know that $5 a day isn't enough for 3 square meals. I'm going to try to make it stretch, but I don't think $35 will be enough for a week's worth of meals that are healthy and nutritious and not just filling."

The federation's CEO Ira Stone said "strong participation in this grassroots initiative will help draw public attention to the importance of food stamps to the nearly 180,000 Philadelphians who currently qualify for this life-saving benefit."

Julie Zaebst, of the Greater Philadelphia Coalition against Hunger, said the challenge will be a learning lesson for many.