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Newark Mayor Booker Says He Forgot Caffeine For Food Stamp Challenge

Cory Booker (credit: Twitter)

Cory Booker (credit: Twitter)

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NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP)Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker has been living on food stamps since Tuesday, and realized a couple of days in that he forgot to buy products with caffeine when he shopped for the weeklong challenge.

Thus, Booker has been without coffee or caffeinated soda for the past five days, and will not have them again until the challenge ends.

In a video posted Wednesday on LinkedIn, Booker said he forgot to buy caffeine products when he shopped Saturday.

Booker said he did not eat much the first day. He forgot to check his travel schedule and couldn’t access his just-under-$30 in food purchases for the week, a few bucks under the maximum he could spend.

The mayor said he quickly learned one must plan meals really carefully on a limited budget.

He recorded the video while eating dinner, a salad with rice and beans. Breakfast Wednesday was salad with chickpeas.

The popular mayor, who is known for his active use of Twitter, agreed to live on the monetary equivalent of food stamps for a week when he was given the challenge by one of his Twitter followers last month.

Booker, who is vegetarian, has been limited to $1.40 for each meal for the duration of the challenge.

The average monthly food stamp benefit was $133.26 per person in New Jersey in fiscal year 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As mayor, Booker makes about 100 times that amount, $13,400 a month.

Politicians and community leaders around the country have taken on similar challenges in recent years to highlight the difficulty of relying solely on government aid for nutrition.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and U.S. Rep. Bob Brady lived on food stamps for a week earlier this year, and the mayors of Las Vegas and Phoenix, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and the former governor of Oregon all did so within the past few years.

Most participated in the “Food Stamp Challenge,” a program from the nonprofit Food Research and Action Center that gives out tools to help organizations and individuals live on a food stamp budget, typically for a week. It even developed a how-to guide for members of Congress, which includes testimonials from eight politicians.

Celebrity chef Mario Batali and his family also did the challenge earlier this year. An AmeriCorps member serving as the community service coordinator at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut challenged her campus to try it for a week.

Would you try living on food stamps for a week? Leave your comments below…

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)