Oregon Gov. Will Live On Food Stamp Diet

Oregon Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski, campaigning for re-election (successfully) in Medford, Ore., Oct. 2, 2006. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File) AP

Oregon Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski and his wife, attorney Mary Oberst, have enough money to get by and meals are generally no problem.

But things will be different this week.

This is Hunger Awareness Week in Oregon, and for the next seven days, Kulongoski and Oberst will be cutting way back – down to the budget one would live on if relying on food stamps – a diet they hope others will also follow for a few days to better understand the plight of those who have no choice.

They'll spend just $3 a day apiece on their meals, $42 in all, to match the amount spent by the average food stamp recipient in Oregon.

"I'm gonna probably go back to what I remember in college, Top Ramen and hot dogs," said Kulongoski.

It won't be easy, but the less than bountiful fare is for a cause, reports CBS News correspondent Stephan Kaufman, as Kulongoski begins lobbying Congress against cuts in the food stamp program proposed by the Bush administration.

"The problem is we've just been reducing the money and the eligibility rolls of those who can get food stamps," said Kulongoski, who lived in a home for boys as a child and worked his way up, with a boost from the GI bill. "At the same time, those on food stamps are getting less."

The Oregon governor is also a strong advocate of school breakfast and lunch programs. "When the federal government cuts back on them," says Kulongoski, "you're actually depriving children of opportunity to basically have a healthy life and at the same time, to be able to learn while they're in school."

The Bush administration has proposed several cuts to the program, among them taking away food stamps from about 185,000 people who qualify only because they receive other non-cash government assistance. The Department of Agriculture budget, as proposed, would also eliminate a program that gives boxes of food to nearly half a million seniors each month.

The administration has proposed some changes hailed by hunger advocates, like excluding retirement savings from income limits, and setting aside money to encourage food stamp recipients to purchase more fresh produce.

  • Francie Grace

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