In Philadelphia, that's $362 a month for a family of four.
In addition, each legislator will be paired with a welfare recipient to see what it takes to cope.
Faced as legislators are with making choices affecting millions of needy constituents, you'd think they would want a taste of life on food stamps.
Yet state Rep. Curtis Thomas, a North Philadelphia Democrat, is the only city representative participating so far.
And none of the legislators from Philadelphia's suburbs, the ones who usually run against the city, has signed on. Nor have the Legislature's leaders, the very people who should know what it's like to live under the rules they make.
Of course, not just the poor will be affected by welfare reform. If recipients can't find ways to become self-sufficient, their neighbors will be faced with caring for hungry and homeless families, as well as sick and disabled people who will lose health care reimbursements.
No one can claim freedom from involvement in the issue.
It has been months since Pennsylvania legislators passed Act 35, which overhauls the state welfare requirements and eligibility rules, but those who administer it are still trying to figure out what it means. It's a cinch that many of the legislators who conferred these changes on the commonwealth didn't know what they were deciding before they voted.
That didn't keep them from making speeches, though.
A legislator in Washington state, where the Walk-a-Mile program began two years ago, put her family on the plan - making popcorn at home for her embarrassed son to take to the movies, standing in line at a food bank before Thanksgiving.
Not surprisingly, her children started to demand to know how long they would have to be so poor.
It's a question that lawmakers, especially, ought to dare to answer.
LEAVE DOCTORS OUT OF IT The White House has waded into the philosophical fray, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate laws in two states that would prohibit doctor-assisted suicides.
The White House is right that assisted suicide is not a constitutional right. But we also feel that states ought not be legislating this issue.
This is not an issue of a right to die or to die with dignity. Indeed, it's hard to imagine a greater tyranny than a person being kept alive artificially against his or her will.
That's why living wills make sense. They allow people to decide in advance whether they would want to remain attached to respirators and feeding tubes even after all hope for recovery had faded.
But there's a clear distinction between allowing someone to die and taking action to cause someone to die.
Physicians will always have an important role in helping patients die with dignity and free of pain. It's proper for doctors to help determine how a patient will die, but not when.
That decision should be left to the patient or the patient's closest loved ones. The doctor's role is to say whether sustaining life mechanically offers realistic hope or merely postpones death.
But once the physicians say that there is nothing more they can do, little action by them beyond pain relief should be expected.