In fighting hunger, Ellison goes on food stamps for a week

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To make a point about poverty and food stamps, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison plans to live on $21 this week—the national average for food stamp benefits.

The Democratic freshman is joined Tuesday in Washington by Rabbi Steve Gutow, executive director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and other religious and civic officials.

“The goals of the [campaign] are to raise the minimum food stamp benefit, improve food stamp benefit adequacy, fully restore food stamp access to all lawfully present immigrants, raise and index asset eligibility limits, allow households to deduct child care expenses and exclude military pay when calculating eligibility,” said Ellison in a statement.

Participants in the “There Shall Be No Needy among You” campaign will live on $3 a day for a week.

The campaign coincides with Ramadan, Islam’s holy month, and Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur—two important Jewish holidays.

“I can think of no better way to celebrate Ramadan,” said Ellison. “And to do so with my brethren in the Jewish Community is especially fitting because it underscores poverty does not discriminate; it knows no age or gender; no religion or race.”

According to Ellison’s office, about 264,000 people in Minnesota are currently receiving food stamps, with another 200,000 eligible. Half of those are children.