Gwyneth Paltrow concedes defeat on $29 food stamp challenge
Gwyneth Paltrow arrives at the opening of the Tracy Anderson flagship studio, in Los Angeles, on April 4, 2013. (Invision / Jordan Strauss)
Angela Mulholland, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, April 17, 2015 11:51AM EDT
Gwyneth Paltrow has thrown in the organic, brushed cotton towel on her attempt to eat like someone on food stamps.
The posh-living Hollywood actress announced Thursday that after four days of attempting the seven-day #FoodBankNYCChallenge – where participants subsist on just $29 of food for a week -- she was finally broken by a craving for chicken.
"As I suspected, we only made it through about four days, when I personally broke and had some chicken and fresh vegetables (and in full transparency, half a bag of black licorice)," she confessed on her website, Goop.
Paltrow said she was inspired by celebrity chef Mario Batali to take up the challenge, which asks people to try living off the same food budget that low-income families receive on SNAP, the U.S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps.
When Paltrow posted a picture last week of what she had chosen to buy with her $29, she was immediately mocked. Many were baffled by her shopping choices, wondering why she would stock up on cilantro, kale and seven – count 'em, seven – limes when her dollar would have gone a lot further with a bag of pasta and a few jars of tomato sauce.
This is what $29 gets you at the grocery store—what families on SNAP (i.e. food stamps) have to live on for a week. pic.twitter.com/OZMPA3nxij— Gwyneth Paltrow (@GwynethPaltrow) April 9, 2015
Others were angrier, calling her experiment "poverty tourism" that "makes a mockery of those who don't have a choice."
Still others pointed out that the SNAP program doesn't really expect people to get by on just $29 a week, as it's a supplemental program that takes into account users' other sources of income.
While Paltrow wouldn't say that she had failed the challenge – "I would give myself a C-" – she also suggested she never expected the experiment to work. The real purpose, she said, was to raise awareness and money for the Food Bank For New York City, which is trying to fight against food stamp cuts.
"My perspective has been forever altered by how difficult it was to eat wholesome, nutritious food on that budget, even for just a few days -- a challenge that 47 million Americans face every day, week, and year," Paltrow wrote.
She said the food system needs to be revised so everyone has a chance at a healthy meal.
"I'm not suggesting everyone eat organic food from some high horse in the sky. I'm saying everyone should be able to afford fresh, real food. And if women were paid an equal wage, families might have more of a choice in the grocery aisles, not to mention in the rest of their lives."