GOP shopper: It’s a SNAP to live on reduced food stamp allotment

A food fight erupted over a House farm bill Tuesday, with a handful of Democrats and a Republican aide wrangling over the cost of groceries.

About 30 Democrats launched a “SNAP Challenge,” intended to show that proposed cuts to food stamps would leave families unable to feed themselves.

EATING WELL: Donny Ferguson said he ate just fine on $31.50 a week.
EATING WELL: Donny Ferguson said he ate just fine on $31.50 a week.

The Democrats claimed that the $31.50 weekly allotment from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the House farm bill in inadequate – and attempted to prove their point by living on that amount.

Republican skeptics countered that the Democrats intentionally bought overpriced food and shopped at high-priced chains to make it appear that proposed SNAP cuts go too far.

Donny Ferguson, agriculture policy adviser to Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, said he was able to buy enough food to eat well for a week on just $27.58.

“I wanted to personally experience the effects of the proposed cuts to food stamps.  I didn’t plan ahead or buy strategically, I just saw the publicity stunt and made a snap decision to drive down the street and try it myself.  I put my money where my mouth is, and the proposed food stamp cuts are still quite filling,” said Ferguson.

“We can cut the proposed benefits by an additional 12.4 percent and still be able to eat for a week,” said Ferguson.  “Not only am I feeding myself for less than the SNAP Challenge, I will probably have food left over.”

What food is left over at the end of the week will be donated to a food bank, along with the $3.92 Ferguson had left over from the $31.50 SNAP Challenge figure.

Ferguson said he did not use coupons our other discount programs.

“I could have bought even more food per person if I were splitting $126 four ways, instead of budgeting $31.50 to eat for one” said Ferguson. “I could have bought cheaper vegetables instead of prepared red beans and rice, but I like red beans and rice.”

Ferguson purchased his food at the Dollar Tree and Shopper’s Food Warehouse located in the 6100 block of Little River Turnpike in Alexandria.  It is served by Metrobus and within bike and walking distance of public housing.

For $21.55, Ferguson purchased at Dollar Tree:

Two boxes of Honeycomb cereal

Three cans of red beans and rice

Jar of peanut butter

Bottle of grape jelly

Loaf of whole wheat bread

Two cans of refried beans

Box of spaghetti

Large can of pasta sauce

Two liters of root beer

Large box of popsicles

24 servings of Wyler’s fruit drink mix

Eight cups of applesauce

Bag of pinto beans

Bag of rice

Bag of cookies

For $6.03 at the Shoppers Food Warehouse next door Ferguson bought a gallon of milk and a box of maple and brown sugar oatmeal.

Earlier this month, the Senate approved a farm bill that would trim nutrition assistance by $4 billion out of nearly $800 billion over 10 years. The House version, which is being debated, cuts $20 billion over the same period.

Kenric Ward is a national reporter for and chief of the Virginia Bureau. Contact him at

Published with permission from


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