ATLANTA -- On Thursday, Congressman John Lewis expressed his disappointment with the amount of time its taken to fix the state's troubled food stamp program. In a written statement he said, "The state of Georgia seems to have become callous and indifferent to the needs of its most vulnerable people."
While DFCS is mandating employees work overtime to improve access for needy families and searching for solutions to its call center, a local law firm says its realizing even with benefits, it's hard to feed your family on food stamps.
Nearly three dozen employees at Kilpatrick Townsend decided to take the food stamp challenge, eating this work week on $29.73, the equivalent of what someone might receive on food stamps.
"I definitely have been more lethargic, it's been hard to focus. I typically work long hours and its been hard to keep that up. I'm certainly more grumpy," said Whitney Deal, the company's director of Corporate Citizenship.
"My greatest challenge has been trying not to think about being hungry," said Attorney Yendelela Anderson. "I have so much empathy and understanding for people whom this is their everyday reality because this is definitely a challenge to live off of this amount."
Now on day four, they shared their experience, sitting in the company lunchroom, surrounded by food they couldn't afford. Fruits and vegetables this week have been scarce. Their diets have consisted mainly of rice, beans, oatmeal, chicken and eggs.
"Usually I try to get in a lot of exercise in the week and go to the gym and I don't have the energy to do that," said Audra Dial, one of the firms managing partners.
"Sometimes it isn't that people don't have food. It's that they don't have healthy food," added Deal.
She has a car to drive to the grocery store and still cut out many of the healthiest food choices due to cost. Many have to rely on the bus to get to the store, one more expense.
As bland as some of the food has been, the women say it has all become surprisingly precious. Dial found herself scooping up a few leftover beans last night.
"My husband said what are you doing? I said we need to keep those so we can have them for tomorrow. Before we would have just thrown it away," said Dial.
The women said its been eye opening how much wasted food is around them and even how much food sits untouched in their pantries.
The challenge will kick off the company's annual food drive fundraiser. Organizers hope the experience will help employees better understand the need. Some say they plan to add the money the didn't spend on groceries this week to their donation.
Now on day four, they shared their experience, sitting in the company lunchroom, surrounded by food they couldn't afford. Fresh fruits and vegetables this week have been scarce.
"The only vegetables I have are some carrots for lunch and a cup of green beans for dinner," Anderson said.
"I've had a lot of beans and rice," said Dial.
They all expressed shock - and even shame - at how little they could buy, and how little they had thought about it, until now.
"I had a little bit of panic for how I was going to last for the week," Deal said.
As bland as it is, the food they do have has become surprisingly precious. Audra Dial found herself scooping up a few leftover beans last night.
"I can get off on Friday but there's so many people who go hungry everyday and there's no Friday for them," said Anderson.