Mario Batali’s challenge to Republican attempts to cut food stamps

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

To much of the world, it was Monday. To Mario Batali, it was Day Four.

The chef, his wife and their two teenage sons are eating for a week on the equivalent of a food stamp budget in protest of potential cuts pending in Congress to the benefit program used by more than 46 million Americans.

That’s $31 per person for the week, or about $1.48 per meal each…

“I’m (expletive deleted) starving,” said Batali, who’s on the board of the food relief agency Food Bank for New York City, which issued the challenge to celeb pals like Batali and anybody else who wants to know what it’s like…

One lesson: forget organic and anything pesticide or hormone-free. “The organic word slides out and saves you about 50 percent.”

So what’s on the Batali menu through Thursday? Lentil chili with onion, water and cumin was one dinner that came with a complaint from his wife when he bought two bags of lentils instead of one, until he convinced her the extra cost would mean cheap eats for the next day.

Rice and beans is in my lunch every day,” Batali said. “We got a bag of mini gala apples for $3. We bought a pork shoulder roast for $8 and got two and a half meals out of it. I got a whole chicken for $5, but it was spoiled so I had to return it and got a $7 chicken instead. They were out of $5 chickens…”

His kids are doing well and didn’t have to be dragged into what Batali described as less of a publicity stunt and more of a conversation starter about what it means to be hungry in America today.

“They’re having more peanut butter and jelly than they’ve had in the last 10 years because bread is inexpensive and peanut butter and jelly, if you buy it at the right place at the right time, is cheap,” Batali said.

Also, the boys are eating school lunch, as those in low-income families do for free…

“Nearly 3 million New Yorkers have difficulty paying for the food they need,” Margarette Purvis said. “They live in every single neighborhood. We’re not trying to compare the food stamp challenge to the very real challenges people face. We’re just trying to raise awareness that it’s no longer just the homeless. It’s working families who use the food stamp program. It’s seniors. It’s a lot more children, in every single neighborhood…”

When such a well-known chef joins a campaign like this the numbnuts on the Right get all pissed off. I haven’t taken the time to link to crap from the Fox Noise crowd; but, apparently they’re upset enough to blather about Mario all the time. Which helps, of course, to bring consciousness of the attack on Food Stamps by Republicans and the Kool Aid Party — to serious foodies.

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