First Ever Food Stamp Challenge on Campus

Posted by at 8:37PM

STOP (Students Taking on Poverty) wrapped up its awareness campaigns for the year this week with Food Stamp Awareness Week. Today, the first ever Food Stamp Challenge to take place on a college campus happened here at Stanford.


What is a Food Stamp Challenge? It’s the agreement to spend only the amount of money that food stamp recipients receive per week on food – basically, to live off $21 for the week or $3.00 for the day. This movement engages in the Challenge in order to raise awareness of the inadequacy of the average food stamp budget, which has remained the
same since the 1970s.
According to a STOP member Debbie Warshawsky, over 200 people have registered online, pledging to spend no more than $3.00 on food today. STOP provided lunch and dinner to participants in the lobby Old Union today, taking the opportunity to raise awareness of the issue of hunger here in the U.S.


The Food Stamp Challenge gained awareness in the blogosphere last year when Congressman Tim Ryan, who was participating in the Congressional Food Stamp Challenge (where members of Congress live off a food stamp budget to raise awareness of the inadequacy of the food stamp budget), had his jars of peanut butter and jelly confiscated by a TSA agent while flying due to regulations about liquid (Ryan had decided to live off sandwiches for the week). The jars represented the majority of his food stuff for the week and left him with .33 cents and a bag of cornmeal to last him for the remaining two days of the week-long challenge.



STOP is an official student group, which is 2 years old. They have participated in a number of awareness campaigns on campus this year, including the National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. STOP’s goals are to increase awareness of poverty and inequality in the U.S. on campus, and to work in local communities, empowering residents in the Bay Area. You can contact STOP by emailing




With the price of gas rising food costs have escalated and more families on the edge are at risk and $3 doesn’t buy a lot of food, and neither does $21.
What are the experiences of those of you who have lived on $3 today?


2 Responses to “First Ever Food Stamp Challenge on Campus”

  1. masaru says:

    as a dissenting view here… i’d like to point out that, at least i think this is true, the point of food stamps is not to completely satisfy people’s needs. if they did, people are much more likely to become dependent on them because they don’t NEED to do anything else. i completely understand the view that the current amount is inadequate, and i agree, but giving enough food stamps to buy enough food might not be the best thing either.

  2. Peter says:

    I wonder how much thought was put into purchasing food here. It seems impossible to buy enough food for a week with $21, but if you buy the right stuff it really is possible. You could make soup and sandwiches to serve eight people with only $11 if you buy the right stuff and actually cook it (for instance, Italian wedding soup and chicken salad sandwiches).
    …four boxes of barilla spaghetti?? I mean come on.. I can buy 3 pounds of rice from Trader Joe’s for $2.69.
    The choices we make are a stark reflection of how much we know about poverty, and the world we live in.
    I would like to make another challenge.
    Try doing the food stamp challenge while at the same time eating 300 carbohydrates a day.
    300 carbohydrates a day are required for all type 1 diabetics (in general). If you think it’s hard to live on $21, try living on $21 with type 1 diabetes….
    My advice to you is not to buy processed food and cook everything yourself


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