Gwyneth Paltrow flunks $39 food stamp challenge

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Four days proved too much for Hollywood star Gwyneth Paltrow when she tried to get by on a US$29 (S$39) food-stamp budget, only to give up when chicken and black licorice beckoned.

The Iron Man and Shakespeare In Love star was challenged by celebrity chef Mario Batali to live on the equivalent of the average US government food stipend for low-income families.

The goal was to raise funds and public awareness for the Food Bank For New York City, which provides millions of free meals to New Yorkers in need.

With US$29, Paltrow filled her grocery basket with a healthy-looking mix of eggs, black beans, lettuce, kale, a tomato, some avocados and corn tortillas.

"As I suspected, we only made it through about four days, when I personally broke and had some chicken and fresh vegetables (and in full transparency, half a bag of black licorice)," she wrote on her Goop.com blog Thursday.

Giving herself a C minus for her efforts, Paltrow blamed income inequality between men and women for the difficulties that "hardworking mothers" face in feeding their families.

Paltrow, a mother of two, was seen Tuesday at a Los Angeles film promotion event that featured with an US$80-a-head prix fixe menu - although it's unclear if she ate from it, the E! showbiz network reported.

One in seven Americans, or 46 million people, live on what the US government officially calls the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or Snap.

The US Department of Agriculture, which oversees Snap, puts the weekly cost of food for a young family of four at US$151 to US$247.

If Paltrow, 42, was trying to prove the near-impossibility of living on food stamps alone, the point was missed by many critics on social media.

"Looks like Paltrow did some conscious uncoupling from her food stamp week," snickered one cynic on Twitter, riffing off the way she and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin labeled their 2014 divorce.

Achingly hip New York feminist blog Jezebel.com summarily dissed the oft-derided Paltrow as "typically clueless."

But all was not lost: Paltrow duly posted on Goop three recipes for turning her food-stamp grocery shopping into appealing meals.

They included black bean taquitos, black bean cakes with grilled corn salsa and brown rice, kale and roasted sweet potato saute with poached eggs.