On the morning of April 9, celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow sent out a tweet that has people up in arms (again). The same woman who gave fame to the term “conscious uncoupling,” is now speaking out about the SNAP program.
In her tweet, Paltrow states, “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.”
So we have a head of lettuce, a dozen eggs, dry black beans, brown rice, frozen green peas, corn tortillas, an ear of corn, kale, a large clove of garlic, a tomato, seven (yes, seven) limes, a bunch of cilantro, a hot pepper, green onions, a yellow onion, an avocado, a sweet potato. I would like to imagine Gwyneth is making tacos tonight. While delicious, her grocery purchases are not a good representation of food to last and entire week.
SNAP or Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program is one of many food assistance programs run by the Agriculture Department’s Food and Nutrition Service, which also happens to be one of the many agencies that provide food assistance. As the name suggests, the $74 billion taxpayer-funded SNAP program provided to low-income Americans is meant to supplement their food budgets. The program isn’t meant for recipients to live off of.
According to the USDA’s SNAP website, the maximum monthly allotment in supplemental assistance for a single person is $191 or $45 a day (not $29, according to Gwyneth). For a family of four the maximum monthly allotment is $649.
Even if you did have $29 a week to live on, would you be making tacos for the entire week? Americans on supplemental assistance that are struggling to provide for their families aren’t buying seven limes, cloves of garlic and fresh herbs. They are buying products that will fill them up- like frozen and canned foods, ground beef, bread, bananas, milk, and cereal. They are also buying those products in bulk.
Instead of Paltrow misidentifying how to actually stretch a food budget, this country needs spokespeople who can address obstacles of overcoming government dependency.
The same woman who told Conan O’Brien “I would rather die than let my child eat Cup-a-Soup,” is probably not the appropriate spokesperson.