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There is no shortage of anecdotes in which the Newark Mayor Cory Booker uses his Twitter account to adopt the role of the small town, civic-minded mayor with a heart as large as the vision he has for his city. One week he’s offering to show up to shovel an elderly person’s driveway, the next defying orders to save his neighbors from a burning building.
Now, he and a Twitter follower will participate in a food stamp challenge designed to bring attention to the plight of families on public assistance.
It started with this tweet: “An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” Booker began to field criticism that he was trying to redistribute wealth; instead, Booker reframed the issue, saying that if government invested in social institutions, it could build wealth by reducing the amount spent on expensive reactionary programs like police and prisons.
When a follower said that nutrition was not the responsibility of government, the tenor of the debate changed. “Lets you and I try to live on food stamps in New Jersey (high cost of living) and feed a family for a week or month. U game?” Booker wrote. The respondent, whose Twitter handle is @MWadeNC agreed.
University of Bridgeport’s community service organization offered to referee the contest: It’s holding its own UB SNAP Food Challenge. The rules require that participants, “”Avoid accepting free food from friends, family, or at work, including at receptions, briefings, or other events where food is served.”
Booker’s hands-on approach isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and folks weren’t exactly shy about voicing their opinion. Said one tweet, “Seeing people who clearly can afford food, yet pretend that they cannot is ridiculous.”