Multimillionaire actress and Goop hawker Gwyneth Paltrow is living on food stamps for a week as part of the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) challenge. If you’re not familiar with the SNAP challenge, it’s a “movement” to raise awareness about the food stamp program. Typically, as part of the challenge, celebrities and politicians attempt to live off food stamps for a week to learn how it is to be “food deficient.” If you didn’t know, “food deficient” is the new fancy term for “hungry.”
Paltrow is the latest celebrity to attempt to raise awareness not only for the SNAP challenge but also for the crisis that many food banks are suffering. Bec ause of the cuts in SNAP, many food banks across the U.S. are suffering from a lack of donations, coupled with an influx of people needing to use their services. But Paltrow’s efforts have had their fair share of criticism.
First, Paltrow posted the items she purchased with her weekly SNAP benefits of $29.
Typically with SNAP benefits, a single person would receive, on average, $29. From the looks of Paltrow’s cart, she’s going to eat a lot of Mexican food and has probably never heard of grocery stores like Murray’s or Aldi. And she really likes limes.
Of course, in true social media fashion, many people raised an eyebrow at the items Paltrow purchased.
Currently in the U.S., various states are trying to institute new SNAP laws to further restrict what recipients can buy with SNAP funds. Missouri state Rep. Rick Brattin wants to ban them from using their benefits to buy seafood or steak. Ironically, those are actually healthy foods. Eat all the Spam you want on SNAP, but God forbid you want a real piece of meat.
Here’s the thing about these SNAP challenges, and with celebrities like Paltrow taking part in them: These families who have to rely on government benefits to provide supplemental food don’t have the option to return to their cushy lifestyles after spending their $29 on avocados and limes. A lot of families on SNAP are already living below the poverty line.
If celebrities or politicians want to impress someone by taking the SNAP challenge for a week, how about they move out of their cushy penthouse apartments, get rid of the $10,000 purses that they’re carrying their SNAP cards in, fire their chauffeurs for a week and live like poor people really do? Stare at that electricity bill that’s overdue and try to figure out how you’ll heat your house.
I’d like to call it the “Trading Places Challenge.” Live like poor people, for real, for real. Not as a rich person attempting to do so. Do that, and survive a week, and maybe I’ll give you a pat on the back. But no, you will not get a pat on the back for spending $29 on a basket of high-priced fruit and organic beans. Trivializing a crisis is all good when you can go back to your multimillion-dollar lifestyle and eat all of the organic avocados you want.
If you’re interested in actually making a difference and donating to various food banks and other agencies that help people who are in need of food, visit FeedingAmerica.org.