State Sen. Gary Holder-Winfield said Friday that he has lost 4 pounds this week and has less energy than usual—the effect of four days of living like someone who relies on public assistance.
Holder-Winfield is taking the “SNAP challenge”—spending a week with a food budget of just $28. He’s holding himself to the average amount of money received by a single person on food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Click the play arrow to see a video Holder-Winfield made about his experience.
Holder-Winfield’s week of renunciation is meant to highlight the plight of people who rely on government assistance to make ends meet. He timed his challenge to coincide with the state legislature’s vote to raise the minimum wage from $8.70 to $10.10 by 2017.
On Tuesday, Holder-Winfield bought a week of groceries at Stop & Shop. On Friday, he said his supplies will stretch to next Tuesday, but the small portions are taking a toll.
Holder-Winfield said he’s eating the same thing every day: A fried egg and spinach for breakfast, rice and beans for lunch, an apple for an afternoon snack, and spaghetti with ground-turkey chili for dinner.
“I have just enough to make it to seven days,” he said.
He said he has lost 4 pounds so far, and has noticed how much he has to move around in the Capitol, because of how tired he finds himself. “I didn’t realize it before. But I do not have the energy I usually have.”
During Senate arguments before the vote on the minimum wage this week, Holder-Winfield also found he had less patience than usual.
“I was a little more testy about the debates on the other side,” he said. Holder-Winfield, who supports the minimum wage, said it was hard to listen to opposition to raising the minimum wage, while feeling some of what it’s like to be living on limited means. “It did kind of color the discussion for me.”