Gwyneth Paltrow made headlines this weekend with her little food stamp challenge she posted online. Despite their best efforts, Gwyneth Paltrow, and other celebrities, prove they just don’t get hunger in America.
It’s cute when an uber-rich celebrity tries to relate to the rest of us who struggle to buy groceries every week.
She tweeted the above challenge and was promptly eaten alive by online critics for it. SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, which allows $29 per person to help with a family grocery budget. She was challenged by celebrity chef, Mario Batali to the #FoodBankNYCChallenge, to spend $29 on groceries for one week.
She also tweeted she is “walking in their shoes to see how far we get” (*gag*), but let’s face it, she really is not.
First, SNAP is meant as a supplement program and not to fund an entire grocery budget. SNAP recipients get $29 per person, not $29 for an entire family. The amount also varies by state. Those on SNAP have a job, but need a hand up when it comes to feeding their family.
Second, this grocery haul by Gwyneth isn’t enough to feed a single human being for a week, even a super-skinny one. This picture reminds me of a cleanse one might see on her popular blog, Goop. Also, people who are hungry don’t choose to buy seven limes and organic cilantro, as these are garnishes. We buy protein (like chicken), canned beans, bread, eggs, milk and jars of spaghetti sauce and dry noodles.
Lastly, being poor, struggling, and hungry is seen as a fun challenge to celebrities, not reality. They get to suspend their reality for seven days, ending it with a #IDidIt.
People struggling to feed their family are forced to live this reality every.single.day. Families who are hungry in America are not who you think. Hunger in America isn’t a fun hastag to them with a a self-congratulatory-look-at-me at the end of seven days. It is a hard reality with harder choices.
If celebrities really want be challenged, try living it as real life. For instance, try being a struggling single mom with three kids, a broken down car, and working a 9 hour day. After a long day, that started before dawn, all that mom wants to do is get food on the table for her hungry kids, because it’s 6:30 p.m. and she still needs to help them with homework, bath time, and any other drama that comes along with being a single parent. And, do it for more than a week…Try a month, or three to start.
Try understanding the slight humiliation a mother feels when having to pay for groceries with an EBT card. Knowing that her card is ready to expire and she has to reapply, being forced to prove that she can’t provide fully for her family. Knowing that because she had to spend extra money on an unexpected car repair bill, she will have to also visit the local food bank this week to help with groceries or go without. Telling her child ‘no’ to the name brand cereal and opting for the cheaper cereal. Forget about eating organic, too.
I know other hashtag challenges have been wildly successful, can we say #IceBucketChallenge, but this one is different. What is the point of proving celebrities can eat on $29 a week? To say they did it?
Hey, I will give Gwyneth a #NiceTry and #Kudos only because the internet and talk shows are talking about hunger in America today. But, she gets a #HugeFail on her shopping list and her understanding of the real problem.
Because it’s not about food. It’s about so much more. Until they understand that, they won’t get it.