NEW HANOVER COUNTY -- Could you survive on $21 a week for food? Cape Fear area leaders put food stamps to the test. Last Tuesday some local leaders began the "food stamp challenge." They wanted to get a better understanding of what it's like for people living on food stamps. The nationwide average weekly benefit in 2005 was about a dollar each meal. New Hanover County Commission Chair Bill Caster and Debby Kaiser of Good Shepherd Ministries say they learned a few things. Caster said, "I learned that I don't want to be on food stamps if at all possible. There are some things that I don't really need but that I really like. Like I love diet Coke and you obviously can't have that kind of thing." Kaiser said, "It was very challenging to eat healthy; the fruits and vegetables you can't afford." The nationwide average weekly benefit of $21 a week hasn't changed since the 1970s. The week-long challenge was meant to prompt a discussion that will be heard by federal legislators.
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