Poverty challenge fails to give taste of poverty

Living in poverty cannot really be experienced in a hashtag challenge.

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Last week, celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow attempted the #FoodBankNYCChallenge, which attempts to raise awareness about how difficult it is to live on the SNAP (better known as food stamps) budget of $29 per week allocated to the average benefit recipient.

Ok. Raising awareness is good. People should get a taste of poverty to really understand it.

However, Paltrow only made it four days before giving up the challenge. She claimed, in her blog reflection, to have learned from the challenge.

She wrote on her blog, “My perspective has been forever altered by how difficult it was to eat wholesome, nutritious food on that budget, even for just a few days.”

My perspective has been forever altered by how difficult it was to eat wholesome, nutritious food on that budget, even for just a few days.”

— Gwyneth Paltrow

From the outset, Paltrow failed to accept the challenge from the perspective of someone who literally only has $29 to supply his or her food for the entire week. She bought a few staple items such as beans and rice, but the majority of her “basket” contained fresh vegetables and fresh herbs — items that will spoil quickly and are a luxury most impoverished individuals can’t afford.

On her blog, Paltrow featured three “delicious, budget-conscious recipes” she prepared for the challenge, which definitely don’t look like they are gracing the plates of America’s poor.

The issue with challenges such as these taken by people who aren’t really poor is that they will always have a safety net in the event that they fail. There is no room for failure in the lives of the truly poor.

Living in poverty cannot really be experienced in a hashtag challenge. While Paltrow’s intentions might have started out good, she ended up putting the challenge on par with any other half-assed social media challenge out there, and effectively giving up.

Paltrow fails to realize that even participating in the challenge doesn’t put her in the position of poverty. She tweeted, “We’re walking in their shoes to see how far we get.” If she were really taking a poverty challenge, she would give up her car and her microwave because those are luxuries many living in poverty don’t have.

Furthermore, celebrities shouldn’t have to do this challenge for people to care. We should be aware of the poverty in our country and worldwide, and we should want to do something about it whether Paltrow can survive on $29 a week or not.

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