Chef Mario Batali

Chef Mario Batali, along with his wife and two teenage sons, has taken the challenge to protest the pending cuts that could drastically affect families on the food stamp program. If approved by Congress, the cuts could reduce the amount of support to just $31 per person per week, less than $1.50 per meal.

Nearly fifty million Americans rely on the food stamp benefit program to feed themselves and their families. Batali accepted the challenge issued by the Food Bank for New York City to undertake a weeks worth of meals on the proposed budget. Batali is a board member for the food relief agency of the Food Bank.

Batali forewent buying any organic items, he reports, which saved an estimated 50 percent, said the chef. Good old-fashioned peanut butter and jelly have been a regular menu item for his sons, who are also eating the school lunches, which are part of the food stamp program. Any convenience foods are out of the question; the chef reports that his menu for the weeklong protest includes a lot of rice and beans, apples, a pork shoulder roast, chicken, pork chops and lentil chili, staples that are low cost but filling and nutritious.

“The Chew,” Batali’s television show, has provided the backdrop for discussion on the issue as some of the show’s crew have also taken the challenge. The hope is that Americans get activated on the issue and contact their representatives about the pending cuts to the food stamp program and the nation’s farm bill, which could mean not only less money for food insecure families to buy food, but also rising food prices.

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Image: Mario Batali