NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork)Newark Mayor Cory Booker said he has already learned some important lessons, three days into his week-long food stamp challenge.

The mayor was challenged by a Twitter follower to live on the equivalent dollar amount provided to food stamp recipients for one week.

WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reports

Booker said he has quickly learned that it is hard to eat healthy on what averages out to just over $4 per day in food.

“I made a decision that I was only going to buy food using my limited dollars by places that would accept SNAP and places that I could get to. And as I looked around, I said well, gosh, if I wanted to go where I sometimes go up into Whole Foods in some of the surrounding towns, I would have to take two buses to get there and carry my food back, which would have been a long, difficult journey,” Booker told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney.

Booker said a big problem is that the supermarkets in low-income areas do not offer the same amount of healthy, fresh foods as bigger chains in neighboring communities.

“Families that do have limited budgets, they have to be able to afford healthy, quality food and have access to that food,” Booker said.

The Newark mayor began the food stamp challenge on Tuesday and said it has already given him a new perspective.

“One of the things that often bothers me is how we look down on people who are taking SNAP and judge them and criticize them, as opposed to walking in their shoes and understanding that we all have a collective responsibility to do something about these problems,” Booker told Putney.

On Wednesday, Booker tweeted that he forgot to get coffee or caffeinated beverages when he purchased his food for the week.

Booker’s Tuesday night dinner consisted of rice and beans and a salad.

He also took a photo of his Wednesday morning breakfast: salad with chickpeas.

The mayor is vegetarian. The woman who challenged him to live on food stamps for a week said she would take the challenge too at a later time.

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