September 18, 2007
Food Frenzy. Congressional ethics reforms has everyone on watch — cocktail wieners on a toothpick, OK; pasta with a fork, bad. But this week, three more Members of Congress will be partaking in the Food Stamp Challenge and abstaining from pilfering Congressional receptions for free food.
Democratic Reps. Keith Ellison (Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.) on Friday became the latest Members to take the challenge, starting a weeklong strict diet in which they will try to live on $21, the average amount food stamp recipients get. Ellison, for one, has a leg up on his colleagues. The only Muslim in Congress already has to experience fasting during the holy season of Ramadan, which began last week, and so far, Ellison spokesman Rick Jauert says he hasn’t heard of his boss having any problems keeping to the limited budget.
While passing on overcooked meatballs might not seem like a hardship, it was only a few months ago that Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) fell off the wagon midway through the challenge. At the time, an HOH tipster reported that Ryan was caught sipping a cup of coffee at Ebenezer’s Coffee House in Capitol Hill, while reportedly wearing a T-shirt promoting the campaign.