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$4 a Day: What SNAP Means to Struggling Families

“The struggle of children, seniors, and families to have access to essential nutrition is a struggle we are all invested in and we all benefit when families succeed. Now more than ever we are all in this together.” - Cory Booker

This morning, while sipping a coffee purchased at my favorite bakery, I read about Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s attempt at the Food Stamp Challenge. To raise awareness of food insecurity among American families, Mayor Booker will spend only $30 on food over the next week, which is about the amount an individual participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called food stamps) receives. That breaks down to just over $4 per day.

I looked down at my cup, and realized that if I were doing the Food Stamp Challenge along with Mayor Booker, I would have blown nearly a whole day’s worth of meals with that one coffee, plus tip.

A sobering thought.

As difficult as it is for SNAP recipients to eat on $4 per day, SNAP lifted the incomes of almost 3.9 million people above the poverty line in 2011, including 1.1 million women and 1.7 million children.

As Congress debates the best way to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff,” SNAP and other programs critical to struggling families are being considered for cuts. Though it isn’t easy to feed a family on food stamps alone, SNAP keeps millions of Americans from going hungry. Let’s hope our leaders in Washington don’t forget about them as they work to resolve our budget challenges.