Eat for $35 a week? UB Community Service Director will judge Newark Mayor Cory Booker as he tries to stretch dollars into dinners

Can you feed yourself for just $35 a week?

When University of Bridgeport’s Jennifer Turner invited students to try to meet what she dubbed the SNAP Food Stamp Challenge—and asked them to video their experience living on a tight food budget—she had no idea how far her call would reach.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker has just pledged to stretch $35 into a week’s worth of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners—and he’s asked Turner to make sure he follows the rules.

It all began when Turner, who is the community service director at UB, organized the Food Challenge for students in November as a way to publicize National Hunger and Homelessness Week.

She posted rules—no free meals, for example—and was ready to go, but the weeklong event was delayed to December 2 to December 8 due to Superstorm Sandy.

“My point was to get people thinking about the challenges that someone on the SNAP Food Stamp program has to face week after week,” said Turner. “At this end of Bridgeport, we don’t have a supermarket near us. How do you get to the grocery store? Those are the kind of issues that are connected to hunger and nutrition.”

Coincidentally, Booker proposed a similar idea this past weekend during an exchange with a follower on Twitter , challenging her to dine on $35 for a week if he did.

“When he said he’d need rules and a referee, I said he could use our rules and I’d be more than willing to judge,” said Turner.

Booker accepted her offer.

Turner now finds herself making sure the mayor follows the rules—and fielding questions about the SNAP Challenge at UB.

“I’m hoping everyone will give it a try,” she said.

So, what are the rules?

  • Each person can spend a total of $35 on food and beverages during the Challenge week. This budget translates to $5 per day, or $1.66 per meal.
  • Keep all receipts and track all food and beverage spending. Any food or beverages purchased and eaten during the Challenge week must be accounted for in your budget, including meals purchased using the University’s meal plan or in restaurants.
  • During the Challenge, eat only food that you purchase specifically for the Challenge. Do not eat food that you already have in your pantry or refrigerator (excluding spices and condiments).
  • Avoid accepting free food from friends, family or work.

UB students, faculty, or staff who complete the week, post starting photos and an end-of-week video, are eligible to win a $50 gift card for Stop ’n’ Shop, donated by UB’s Office of Residential Life.


Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625,