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Cory Booker Finishes Up His Food Stamp Week and More News

Cory Booker Finishes Up His Food Stamp Week and More News

In today's Media Mix, Gordon Ramsay getting 2 more Las Vegas restaurants, plus is inhaling food the next new trend?

Arthur Bovino

The Daily Meal brings you the biggest news from the food world.

Gordon Ramsay's New Vegas Restaurants: The British chef is opening a Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars Palace on Dec. 18, plus a Gordon Ramsay BurGR at Planet Hollywood on Dec. 22. [PR Newswire]

Cory Booker Finishes Food Stamp Challenge: Hats off to Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker for finishing up his week living off $30 of food stamps, even sitting through fundraising dinners and turning away a plate. [LinkedIn]

'Epic Chef' Spins Off 'Epic Meal Time': Looks like YouTube calorie fests will stick around for a bit longer; here's a feature on Epic Chef, the non-Canadian version of Epic Meal Time. [Yahoo!]

Inhalable Foods? Good Morning America looks at the latest trends in food: Vaporized food that can fulfill a sweet tooth craving without adding on calories. [GMA]

Friendly's Receipt Mistake: A family in New Hampshire looked over a Friendly's receipt after a terrible night for service, and found "sh*tshow" written on it. [WHDH News]

Mayor Cory Booker: ɽifficult' bakery visit during $33 food stamp challenge

Cory Booker drew national headlines when he pulled a neighbor out of a fire and came to the aid of a pedestrian struck by a car, but the charismatic Newark mayor had to dig into his heroic strength to battle the “hunger pains” that felled him halfway through a week long food stamp challenge.

Booker promised to live on the monetary equivalent of food stamps for one week – about $33 for a single individual living in New Jersey – after challenging a Twitter user to do the same.

He told TODAY’s Erica Hill that he hopes the contest will raise awareness about the struggles endured by people living on public assistance, and will have a lasting impact.

"If it becomes a distant memory then nothing's changed," he said. "So hopefully, things like this can help expand our consciousness and motivate us to act on a more consistent basis.”

Under the contest rules, Booker cannot eat food already in his home, nor can he accept outside meals like those at various events he attends for work. Booker reached his first low point of the challenge on Day Three during a late afternoon meeting at a local bakery.

“To put it simply, this was difficult and perhaps the greatest test of my resolve yet,” Booker later wrote on his LinkedIn page. He also is chronicling the experience on a video blog.

Booker, a vegetarian, began the contest last Tuesday, Dec. 4, with a trip to the store. He then tweeted a picture of his grocery bill, which included more than a dozen canned items. He also bought seven sweet potatoes and various bags of vegetables and two apples, “which I am savoring,” he told Hill.

The idea behind the challenge started after Booker got into an online Twitter exchange with a woman who questioned whether schools should be responsible for ensuring that students receive proper nutrition.

“Nutrition is not a responsibility of the government,” tweeted @MWadeNC, who goes by “TwitWit” on the site.

That prompted Booker to say that the responsibility is a shared one: “Let's 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?”

The North Carolina woman Booker challenged has since protected her tweets because of threats she received over the exchange, she told the AP.

Booker said he was surprised to see how many Twitter followers had presumed that people on food stamps don’t have jobs or are lazy, when often “these are hardworking families who care about their kids, who play by the rules, who often work harder than other Americans.”

Booker’s challenge runs through Dec. 11. You can follow him on Twitter here.

My Top 10 Ingredients for a Healthy SNAP Diet

This week, Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker admirably decided to take the SNAP challenge and live on a typical food stamp budget of $30 for a week. He's most likely hungry, a tad cranky and probably sleepy. Forty-seven million people receive food stamps (now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP) in the United States and on average can spend $1.66 per meal per person. In a country where it's hard to buy a meal for under $10, the thought of a $30 food budget for the entire week is challenging, to say the least.

This past year, in recognition of the extreme difficulties SNAP recipients have in putting nutritious and delicious meals on the table, I formed MicroGreens in Washington, D.C. My new non-profit educates kids and families on how to cook healthy, tasty meals on a budget of $3.50 per meal for a family of 4.

I'm not going to lie. It's tough no matter how you make your budget stretch. Mayor Booker already discovered that, when he revealed his spartan grocery list and complained that he couldn't afford his morning coffee. But what food stamp recipients can and must do to get the most out of their dollar is to purchase food in bulk. When you buy a 15-pound bag of rice, your per serving cost drops to about 15 cents. When you buy 5 pounds of carrots, you get each carrot down to 20 cents. This is how a family can eat healthfully on a SNAP budget and it's what we teach at MicroGreens. It also means if you want meat, you have to learn how to work with non-traditional cuts and start butchering. You can get the cost of chicken down to almost $1.44 for one meal for 4 people if you reduce portion sizes to 3 ounces per person. But you also have to butcher a whole chicken yourself and you need to eat both the dark and white meat. On a SNAP budget, there's no room for being picky. And most importantly, when you're on food stamps, you really need to know how to cook.

So, in honor of Mayor Booker's SNAP challenge, I'm sharing my top 10 food ingredients for a SNAP diet. Food stamp recipients who make these purchases weekly will be better able to stretch their food dollar and cook healthy and tasty meals. Vegetarians like Mayor Booker, will leave out the chicken and stock up on more eggs:

Notice how basic my list is. No frozen waffles, bagels, milk or cereal and very little fruit. These ingredients don't look like the standard American diet nor do they look balanced. SNAP recipients can't eat much fruit because it's too expensive and they can't afford milk.

However, based on my own experiences in taking the SNAP challenge several times, I recommend a plant-based diet with whole grains and drinking a lot of water. At the end of my one-week SNAP challenges, I tended to crave meat and a sweet but I did feel full. And I knew that what I put in my body was healthy, pure and tasty because I cooked it from scratch. I lose about 3 pounds every time I take the SNAP challenge and I've learned that there are ways to mix up the menu each week. For example, one week I might substitute pears for apples or choose polenta instead of rice if the costs work and I can get it in bulk.

Good luck Mayor Booker and thanks for highlighting the difficulties low-income families have by taking the SNAP challenge. If more people would realize how challenging it is to live healthfully off of food stamps that would be the beginning of a real dialogue in America about food costs, hunger and how to eat healthfully on a limited budget.

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Booker, Winning Rocky Senate Bid, Gets a Job to Fit His Profile

Mayor Cory A. Booker of Newark easily won New Jersey’s special Senate election on Wednesday, finally rising to an office that measures up to his national profile.

He will arrive in Washington already one of the country’s most prominent Democrats, and its best-known black politician other than President Obama, who backed him aggressively. Mr. Booker’s fund-raising prowess puts him on course to lead his party’s campaign efforts in the Senate, and he has been mentioned as a possible vice-presidential pick for 2016.

With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Mr. Booker had 55 percent of the vote to 44 percent for Steve Lonegan, a Republican former mayor of Bogota, N.J., and state director of the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, according to The Associated Press. Still, the campaign gave a wider audience to certain facets of Mr. Booker that long ago began to prompt eye-rolling among his constituents.

With a Twitter following six times as large as the city he has led, Mr. Booker was known outside Newark largely for his appearances on late-night television and his heroics: rescuing a neighbor from a burning building, shoveling out snowbound cars, living on a food stamp diet.

The campaign gave him less flattering national attention for his Twitter exchanges with a dancer in a vegan strip club, and renewed old questions about whether he embellished an oft-told story about a moving encounter with a drug dealer, who may or may not have existed (Mr. Booker called him “an archetype”). He had to resign from a media company that Silicon Valley investors had paid him millions to start — but not before the resignation of the 15-year-old son of a television executive, whom Mr. Booker had put on the company’s board.

Having started his political career by moving into a Newark housing project, Mr. Booker spent the final days before his Senate election beating back stories in the conservative news media that he did not actually live in the city the fact that this story could catch hold at all suggested the level of suspicion aimed at the mayor in the city where he began his rise. And he had to call off campaign events during a nearly two-week spree of murders in Newark this summer, underscoring the layoffs of police officers during his tenure, and a complaint that has long made him bristle: that he is a better orator than manager.

Polls suggested this took a toll. In a Rutgers-Eagleton Institute survey a week before the election, Mr. Booker had a positive rating among 54 percent of likely voters, but that had dropped nine points from early September. His unfavorable ratings had nearly doubled, to 32 percent. A third of likely voters said his career had been more about self-promotion than improving Newark, which is the state’s largest city.


At the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on Wednesday night, a festive crowd of about 150 people shook blue and white pompoms to Bon Jovi songs as they waited for Mr. Booker to arrive.

Thanking supporters, Mr. Booker returned to many of the lines he used to open his campaign in June, promising to bring a new kind of politics to Washington.

“Too many people are forgetting that the lines that divide us are nothing compared to the ties that bind us,” he said. “It forgets that old saying, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone if you want to go far, go together.’ ”

Conceding the race before a crowd of a few hundred supporters at a banquet hall in Bridgewater, N.J., Mr. Lonegan called the race a victory, even in defeat, and thanked the prominent conservatives who had come to the state to campaign for him, including Rand Paul and Sarah Palin.

“We came well closer to winning this election than anyone ever expected,” Mr. Lonegan said to loud cheers. “The big Washington power groups and consultants said we couldn’t win. Well, maybe if they had played a role in this election, we would have won.”

Mr. Booker grew up in the wealthy North Jersey suburb of Harrington Park, where his parents, some of the first black executives at I.B.M., helped integrate the town.

A graduate of Stanford and Yale Law School, and a former Rhodes scholar, he was a celebrity even before he became mayor — with an Oscar-nominated documentary about his first, failed race in 2002. He was elected in 2006 to replace Sharpe James, the longtime mayor who later served time in prison for fraud.

Mr. Booker brought excitement to a city that has long struggled to shake off the cloud of the riots that nearly destroyed it 46 years ago. And with his national profile, he also attracted more business development, including Newark’s first new hotel and supermarket in decades, and millions of dollars in philanthropy, including a $100 million pledge to the city’s long-failing schools from the Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.

The very timing of the special election this year to fill the seat of Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, a fellow Democrat who died in June, showed how powerful a force he had become. Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, called it for a Wednesday in October at a cost of $24 million to a state with a budget stretched thin, rather than holding it three weeks later, when he would have appeared on the ballot for re-election with Mr. Booker, the one Democrat he had feared running against him.

5 things you might not know about Cory Booker

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker took the stage on the opening night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Monday.

Booker, who served as mayor of Newark for more than seven years, told the gathered crowd that "we will rise" in a rousing speech that ran for nearly 20 minutes.

Here are five things you might not know about Booker.

He went to Stanford University on a football scholarship.

Booker played tight end in two seasons for the Cardinal, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science. He played alongside future NFL players like Brad Muster and Ed McCaffrey.

He also served as class president in his senior year, and played a leading role in a student-operated crisis hotline.

He was threatened by the Bloods street gang

Early in his first term as Newark's mayor, his office received a threat against Booker's life that was deemed credible enough that the police beefed up his personal security detail.

The New York Times reported at the time that a jailhouse informant had given authorities a tip so specific that "they were compelled to act on it."

He undertook a week-long challenge to live off food stamps

A discussion on Twitter with a follower who wrote that "nutrition is not the responsibility of the government," Booker challenged the user to live for a week on New Jersey's food stamp budget, and then picked up the gauntlet himself.

He spent $29.78 on groceries for the week, then discovered very quickly that he had made some mistakes in his selection, not least of all the lack of his two vices: Diet Pepsi and Ben & Jerry's ice cream.

Booker said he hoped the challenge would bring light to the issue of cutting federal funds to the food stamp program.

He once rescued a neighbor from a burning building

In 2012, Booker returned home from a television interview to find his neighbor's building on fire.

A member of his security detail tried to stop him, but the then-mayor "just ran into the flames and rescued this young lady."

Newark's fire chief told the New Jersey Star-Ledger that Booker had "executed a professional rescue." He suffered smoke inhalation and second-degree burns to his hand, but was well enough to tweet that he was OK.

He helped launch an online video-sharing service

Booker was a one-third partner in #waywire, which raised $1.75 million in start-up funding, according to USA Today.

He eventually stepped down from the company's board during his campaign for the New Jersey Senate, and donated his shares in the company to charity, TechCrunch reported.


The Biden administration is expanding a program to feed as many as 34 million schoolchildren during the summer months, using funds from the coronavirus relief package approved in March.

The Agriculture Department is announcing Monday that it will continue through the summer a payments program that replaced school meals because the pandemic left many children with virtual classes. Families of eligible children would receive $6.82 per child for each weekday. That adds up to $375 per child over the summer months.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called the summer benefits a “first-of-its-kind, game-changing intervention to reduce child hunger in the United States.”

The program reflects the Biden administration’s attempts to nearly stamp out child poverty — an unprecedented push with money for parents, child care centers and schools that could revamp the social safety net. Conservative critics have warned that the spending, if made permanent, could undermine the willingness of poorer Americans to work.

Stacy Dean, deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services at Agriculture, said that Congress previously approved limited funding for pilot programs to test the effectiveness of the payments. But the coronavirus relief package allowed it to be rolled out nationwide.

Besides the food aid, parents will receive roughly $250 a month starting in July for each child between the ages of 6 and 17. Qualifying families with a child under 6 would receive $300 monthly. The payments are part of an enhanced child tax credit that would expire at the end of this year, according to the terms of the most recent coronavirus relief package.

President Joe Biden plans to extend the monthly payments through 2025. The extension would be part of a multitrillion-dollar plan that he intends to announce Wednesday in a joint address to Congress.

Democratic lawmakers have called for making the enhanced tax credit permanent, with Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Cory Booker of New Jersey and Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Suzan DelBene of Washington state and Ritchie Torres of New York issuing a statement last week.

“Expansion of the child tax credit is the most significant policy to come out of Washington in generations, and Congress has an historic opportunity to provide a lifeline to the middle class and to cut child poverty in half on a permanent basis,” the April 20 statement said.

When the school year ends, children have traditionally shifted to other forms of food aid such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP. Yet administration officials said that summer feeding programs tend to reach less than 20% of the number served during the school year.

Children could qualify for the new summer benefit if they are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year or if they are under age 6 and live in a SNAP household. Children already on SNAP would get the benefits as a supplement to what they already receive.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Big Ag

In a statement, Warren said: “For years, regulators looked the other way while giant multinational corporations crushed competition in the agriculture sector and seized control over key markets.

“COVID-19 will make it easier for Big Ag to get even bigger. [To] gobble up smaller farms, and lead to fewer choices for consumers.”

Warren also said the system needs to give workers, farmers, and consumers ‘bargaining power in our food system’.

She then added: “I’m glad to partner with Senator Booker and Representative Khanna to start reversing the hyper-concentration in our farm economy.”

Cory Booker: the inexorable rise of Newark's neoliberal egomaniac

Even back then, the man was in a hurry to make it to the top. But with the death last week of Senator Frank Lautenberg, and the (very expensive) shotgun October special election called by Governor Chris Christie, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey may find himself in Washington, DC a full year earlier than he'd expected.

Cory Booker, the hedge fund guys' favorite politician and the most self-regarding official in America, is more likely than not headed to the US Senate – and I can't imagine he's dismayed at the accelerated schedule. He may be esteemed by Wall Street tycoons and Hollywood titans, and worshipped by an unserious internet brigade that prefers its politics in GIF form, but Booker has not had a good run of it lately in New Jersey's benighted largest city. Carjackings – the signature Newark crime they used to call it "the carjack capital" – have gone up for four years in a row. Violent crime, which had been declining in Booker's first years, has spiked again in summer, things will get worse. Police have been laid off, firefighters too, as Booker has slashed city budgets. And when the mayor recently tried to get an ally of his on the city council, the meeting devolved into a ruckus, with police officers resorting to pepper spray.

Except for a stinging New York Times report last year, one doesn't hear much about the actual conditions of life in Newark – a city that, to what I suppose is Booker's credit, has made conditions friendlier for companies such as Panasonic (enticed with a $100m tax break) and the Manischewitz kosher wine firm. But oh, one hears an awful lot about Booker. All politicians are to some degree wannabe celebrities, but it has been a while since we have met a showman as narcissistic as him: a man who makes Chuck Schumer look camera-shy, who makes Michele Bachmann seem like a subtle media operator.

He sleeps in tents. He shovels snow. He brings diapers to stranded mothers. He runs into a burning building, then holds a press conference to celebrate his own heroism. He tried to live on food stamps for a week, which I almost admired – but then he told his story to Face the Nation, and then the Today show, and then the Daily Show, and then Piers Morgan on CNN.

No one other than Vladimir Putin could pull off these bathetic, 360-degree political theatrics – though even Putin would have blanched at Booker's made-for-TV rescue one cold Newark night of a freezing mutt named Cha Cha, bearing the dog in his arms like the Lamb of God. "This dog is shaking really bad," he told an airhead local news reporter – who had earlier arranged the entire pseudo-rescue with him via Twitter. Had she really been concerned, she could have just called the cops or, you know, rescued the dog herself. Instead, she told Booker to meet her at the scene with her camera crew and, when it was all over, even got her picture taken with the man of the hour.

It'd be one thing if the Soviet-style personality cult and let's-come-together Twitter banalities – recent days have seen him post self-help quotations from Bruce Springsteen and the Dalai Lama – were just marketing for a progressive political program. But Booker is a far more conservative figure than the Cult of Cory, which is too busy making Superman or Chuck Norris jokes, may actually realize. He is a long-time advocate of charter schools and, more quietly, of voucher programs: a favorite hobbyhorse of the men of high finance. George Will, the paleoconservative columnist of the Washington Post, is a big fan. Michelle Rhee, the fallen DC schools chancellor whose union-busting, corporatist education reforms resulted in a citywide cheating scandal, is someone Booker calls "a friend of mine" – and we should add that Newark's charter schools were embroiled in a cheating scandal of their own last year.

And of course, Booker has the unwavering support of the big bad industry just across the river from Newark. Since his days as a city councilor, he has hoovered up cash from the financial services sector – but unlike many other tri-state Democrats who seduce the Street in a marriage of a convenience, Booker legitimately thinks that big money knows best and the public sector should do its bidding. When, in May 2012, Booker confessed that he found it "nauseating" for the Obama campaign to impugn Mitt Romney's career in private equity, Democrats were shocked. They shouldn't have been.

Booker's whole career has been a testament to a poisonous financial-corporatist consensus, which dresses up the interests of big money in post-ideological garb. (That helped him win the support this weekend of the most powerful man in New Jersey: George Norcross III, the feared political boss and owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who said he liked Booker because he was "a Democrat that's fiscally conservative yet socially progressive.")

Remember that $100m donation to the Newark schools from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, promoted with its very own Oprah episode? The cash didn't go into the Newark school system it's controlled by a non-governmental fund, with Booker on the board, and has been so unaccountable that the ACLU had to sue the city to learn what was going on. (Booker's office first denied that the emails the ACLU sought existed when a judge ordered the emails to be made public, the Booker team released them on Christmas Eve.)

Add to this Booker's privatization of the Newark sanitation department, and his repeated attempts to do the same to the water supply, and the picture becomes clearer. In the world Booker and his cohort inhabit, there are no systemic problems and no class interests. There are only pesky inefficiencies, to be fixed with better data and more money from smart, happy, rich people who can spend their cash far more sensibly than the public sector.

Poor Frank Lautenberg. The so-called "swamp dog" was one of the great remaining liberals in the Senate, a quiet but committed defender of unions and the working class, and a constant advocate for progressive taxation. And New Jerseyans have a chance to vote for a successor in his mold. Two quite progressive House members, the long-serving Frank Pallone and the physicist-turned-politician Rush Holt, have both declared their candidacies.

But it seems far more likely that the next senator from New Jersey will be the anti-Lautenberg: a neoliberal egomaniac who sees government as nothing more than a charity for billionaires and corporations to support as they please. There may be no stopping the rise and rise of Cory Booker. But let's at least recognize his impending triumph for what it is: another victory for the men in the glass towers, enabled by a nonstop publicity campaign waged 140 characters at a time.

Joe Biden Gave Some Relationship Advice to Rosario Dawson About Boyfriend Cory Booker

Before Joe Biden won the presidency he campaigned against key members of the Democratic Party in the primaries, including Senator Cory Booker. Though Booker’s presidential run was short-lived, he certainly left his mark on the campaign &mdash and apparently on President Biden, as well. While on Live with Kelly & Ryan, Rosario Dawson revealed that Joe Biden pulled her aside to talk about her beau on the campaign trail, and he shared exactly what he thought about their relationship. Hey, when the President weighs in on your relationship &mdash it’s kind of a big deal, so we’re guessing Dawson took his words to heart.

“He kind of pulled me aside and just had the most beautiful and effusive things to say about Corey,” Dawson recalled. “He was talking about, ‘I married up, I hope he marries up.’ He’s very charming. It was really, really nice…to see the kind of respect and dignity that’s there between all of these folks as colleagues.”

At the time, Booker was still running against Biden, which is why Biden’s praising words meant all the more to the Seven Pounds actress. “This was just as they were going in to debate each other when the presidential election was still going on, and that actually made it that much more special.”

Booker and Dawson reportedly began dating back in October 2018 and publicly confirmed their relationship ahead of Booker’s presidential bid. While the two have been dating for more than two years, Booker has been clear that the pair are taking things slow. In fact, Booker sounded off engagement rumors back in December, but considering that the relationship has gotten the Presidential stamp of approval &mdash we wouldn’t be shocked if he popped the question sometime this year.

Before you go, click here to see the longest celebrity marriages.

Watch the video: Democratic Debates: Cory Booker Speaks Spanish, Says Hell Change ICE Policies. NBC New York