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Berkshire Delegation Accepts the SNAP Challenge
June 28, 2013

Legislators will try to live on a food budget of only $31.50 for 7 days and chronicle the entire experience from July 8-15 to raise local awareness about poverty
 
WHO:  State Senator Benjamin B. Downing, D- Pittsfield
State Representative Gailanne Cariddi, D- North Adams
State Representative Paul Mark, D- Peru
State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D- Pittsfield
State Representative Wm. Smitty Pignatelli, D- Lee
 
WHAT: The 7-daySNAP Challenge
 
WHEN: Monday, July 8-Monday, July 15, 2013
 
DETAILS: How much do you spend on groceries each week? Do you think you survive on a weekly food budget of only $31.50? Next month, from July 8-15, the Berkshire Legislative Delegation intends to take the SNAP Challenge to see if they can.
 
The average federal SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) or Food Stamp benefit for an individual is $31.50 a week, which further breaks down to $4.50 a day -- or $1.50 per meal. The goal of the SNAP Challenge is to live for a week on that budget and raise awareness about poverty and the Program. 
 
Spurred by various pending legislative matters, such as the recently rejected federal Farm Bill that would have dramatically reduced funding for the SNAP Program by $20 billion, policymakers are taking the SNAP Challenge nationwide. 
 
Here in Massachusetts Congressman James P. McGovern, Health & Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz and Stacey Monahan, Commissioner of the Department of Transitional Assistance took the challenge for a week in June. Inspired by their reflections of the experience as well as recent debate on the Massachusetts Senate’s comprehensive welfare reform package, Downing challenged himself and his Berkshire House colleagues to do the same.
 
Throughout the week of July 8th the legislators will chronicle their daily meals on social media (Facebook and Twitter) and be available to media to reflect on the overall experience and daily challenges on surviving on a small food budget. The delegation will conclude the Challenge with a visit to the Pittsfield office of the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) to meet with local service providers to reflect upon the experience during an unscripted round table discussion. 
 
RELATED PUBLIC EVENTS – OPEN TO PRESS
 
EVENT #1
WHO: State Senator Ben Downing, State Representative Smitty Pignatelli, State Representative Paul Mark
WHAT: Grocery shopping for a week’s worth of meals for a single individual, spending no more than $31.50.
WHERE: Price Rite, 457Dalton Avenue, Pittsfield
WHEN: Monday, July 8, 2013 -- 8:30 – 9:30AM
 
EVENT #2
WHO: State Representative Gailanne Cariddi
WHAT: Grocery shopping for a week’s worth of meals for a single individual, spending no more than $31.50.
WHERE: Big Y, 45 Veterans Memorial Drive, North Adams
WHEN: Monday, July 8, 2013 -- 8:30 – 9:30AM
 
EVENT #3
WHO: State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier
WHAT: Grocery shopping for a week’s worth of meals for a family of 5, spending no more than $157.50.
WHERE: Big Y, 200 West Street, Pittsfield
WHEN: Monday, July 8, 2013 -- 9:30 – 10:30AM
 
Media Contacts:
Sen. Ben Downing – Bethann Steiner or Chris Gilrein (617) 722-1625
Rep. Gailanne Cariddi – Lisa Schifilliti (617) 772-2450
Rep. Paul Mark – Chris Cappucci (413) 464-5635
Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier– Beth Leibinger (413) 442-4300
Rep. Smitty Pignatelli – Kerry Sullivan (413) 743-0631
 
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