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Congressman Sander Levin to live on $31 food budget for a week

It's not easy to buy enough nutritious, filling food to last a week if you only have $31 -- the average amount an individual on food stamps receives from the federal government.

"I bought tuna, lots of cans of tuna," says Michigan Congressman Sandy Levin.  

Levin is participating in a challenge to eat on an impoverished person's food budget for a week, to call attention to deep cuts in food programs proposed by House Republicans.  

Levin says he also bought bread, milk, cereal, green beans and peanut butter, and to make the challenge completely legitimate, he'll even avoid freebie buffets at events he attends in D.C. this week.

Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee want to cut $20 billion over the next 10 years from food programs for the poor, disabled, and children as part of efforts to reduce the federal deficit.

Levin says the deficit does need to be reduced, but with a combination of cuts and revenue increases (read, tax increases and eliminating tax credits).

He calls the House Republican proposal "an example of a cut that is too drastic (and) that is going to unduly hurt people within our communities.  I met a woman just a few days ago, disabled, who is receiving this assistance, and she told me on Saturdays and Sundays most weeks she has nothing to eat but bread." 

Levin says that woman, along with millions of others, could see her food assistance reduced, or eliminated entirely under the proposed $20 billion in cuts to federal food programs.

A similar proposal in the Senate reduces food program spending, but by a much smaller amount.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.