WATCH: Peter Kim asks a food bank, a dietitian and a chef how much food $29 can really get you.
In a well-intentioned gesture to shed light on the plight of the poor, Hollywood actor Gwyneth Paltrow tweeted what she bought with $29.00 — the approximate value of benefits given to users of a food bank program in the U.S.
Paltrow was nominated by her friend, celebrity chef Mario Batali, as part of the challenge spreading on Twitter under the hashtag #FoodBankNYCChallenge.
Her basket of goods included fresh kale, corn, romaine lettuce, garlic and cilantro — a selection rich in flavour and nutrients, but light on calories and volume.
Paltrow was quickly criticized on Twitter for being out-of-touch with those truly surviving on social assistance because the choices she made were largely considered luxuries to the poor.
Gail Nyberg, executive director of the Daily Bread Food Bank, said it’s nearly impossible to live on $29.00 a week. Nyberg’s basket of goods, reflecting the choices of someone who uses the food bank, included canned and processed foods that are cheap, high volume and calorie dense.
She selected milk, eggs, canned fruit and vegetables, canned tuna, and peanut butter for protein.
“If you don’t have protein, you’re even more hungry,” said Nyberg. “Certainly the peanut butter will give you a few meals, but after three days of peanut butter sandwiches one would be pretty hungry.”
Missing are items like fresh garlic, cilantro and kale.
For just under $29.00, Rosenbloom’s choices had more fresh ingredients, but the total volume was smaller than what was offered at the food bank.
“I bought things like bananas and apples. Those go well with oats, and we did a whole line of whole grains, barley and pasta. And those will provide you with B vitamins and protein,” said Rosenbloom.
For those with more money to spend, chef Sean Ryan prepared a selection that was under $30.00 and full of flavour, but much smaller.
“I’ve created some salads with proteins: seven-grain salad, chick pea salad, and an organic salad with quinoa,” said Ryan.
He prepared four dishes in total, each modestly sized, along with an order of fresh grilled salmon.
Though his offerings were full of flavour and freshness, they were not enough to sustain an entire family for a week.
In the end, Paltrow’s gesture was to shed light on the plight of the poor. She was successful in doing just that, thanks in part to a side of Twitter backlash.