Elected officials and activists joined faith groups in a program that challenges Americans to spend one week living like the 49 million food stamp recipients.
For the national food stamp challenge that kicked off at a District Safeway teams that each included a food stamp recipient tried to shop for a weeks' worth of food.
D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton participated, reminding her team participants to stay away from expensive items that food-stamp recipients wouldn't be able to afford.
Food stamp recipients get an average of $31.50 per person per week, which translates to $4.50 a day.
Vannessa Sherrod has six children to feed with food stamps. Asked if the money was enough, she replied "not really, but I'm blessed for what I have."
"These benefits make the difference between going hungry and having food for yourself and your families," said Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to President Barack Obama.
At the checkout, it didn't take much to go over the limit.
"I bought what was cheapest, but it probably wasn't the greatest nutritional content," said Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA.
The program also aims to highlight the importance of food stamps for struggling families as Congress is searching for ways to cut trillions of the budget.