gwyneth paltrow

Okay, so you’ve probably all already heard about Gwyneth Paltrow’s SNAP Challenge by now. If not, here’s a link to the article. Famous chef Mario Batali challenged his friend Gwinnie to live on 29 dollars for one week, which is apparently the amount of assistance the average person receives on the SNAP program. The challenge comes as part of the Food Bank NYC Challenge, being promoted by Batali.

SNAP stands for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and it offers nutrition assistance to millions of low-income families across the country.

To her credit, I admire her for doing this because it has brought attention to the food stamp issue, which affects a huge amount of people. She is using her celebrity powers for good I suppose.

Anyway, here’s what she purchased with her 29 bucks:

  • A dozen eggs
  • A head of romaine
  • An onion
  • Scallions
  • An avocado
  • An ear of corn
  • Kale or some other leafy green
  • One tomato
  • Seven limes
  • Cilantro
  • A package of tortillas
  • Frozen peas
  • A bag of rice
  • A bag of black beans
  • One jalapeño
  • A sweet potato

Sigh. I want to like Gwyneth, I really do. But her choices, while being super healthy, are not exactly practical. A few of Gwynnie’s items such as the kale, romaine, scallions, cilantro and jalepeno have zero calories or very few calories. The juice from 7 limes yields about 140 calories. The items she purchased have her consuming fewer than 1,00 calories per day for a week. The average busy working person on SNAP often has no choice but to be far more active and thus will require far more calories over the course of a typical day.

There was a point in my life when I had very little money. I wasn’t on SNAP, but I was seriously cash strapped. I bought beans, eggs, rice, pasta, bread, peanut butter and bananas and that was about it. When you are poor you have to get the most bang for your buck in the calorie department. You need to fill up as cheaply as possible. Limes aren’t going to cut it.

I’m not saying she should have purchased crap food either. Ramen noodles and mac and cheese are cheap but they are horrible for your health. I recently wrote an article about how you can eat clean on a budget. Check it out here.

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Of course, SNAP is meant as a supplemental program, not the funding for the entire source of food for program participants. Though about 20 percent of people on SNAP have no other source of income, most others have jobs or access to other sources of government assistance that they also use to purchase food, according to the USDA.

Paltrow’s critics think she is going about it the wrong way. Some have said that it’s easy to “live poor’ for a week.

Ultimately, if Paltrow was looking to spark a debate about food stamps, she succeeded.