in which we ask: are you hungry enough?

Hungry enough for change I mean.

By now you’ve probably seen or heard about this on Facebook or someplace… it’s a pretty spectacular argument for eliminating or reducing food stamps benefits, don’t you think?

angeli-foods-receipt

Image source: unknown, circulating via email & social media

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This was confirmed to be factual and did in fact lead to the shopper being charged with welfare fraud. His intent was not to live it up on lobster and porterhouse which offends many but is fully legal.

Instead, his plan was to sell the items for a profit, which is a crime.

Now, I don’t claim to understand the demand for black-market cold water lobster & porterhouse steaks, but apparently there is one.  And it makes perfect sense to see this incident as indisputable proof that food stamps programs should be eliminated or at least sharply edited.

And my goodness, has the line been drawn. On one side are those who feel the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program feeds a culture of dependency and slothfulness. On the other are those who believe assistance should be freely available with no demeaning limits or restrictions attached.

Bumper sticker arguments and memes pile up and every over-simplified one is absolutely confident.  And more often than not, just a tad sensationalized and slanted.  But can we set our opinions aside for a moment?  Who’s really getting the handouts? Hint: it’s not the “Welfare Queen” you think it is.

Please read this report from EatDrinkPolitics(dot)com. Please. It’s thought-provoking, well-organized and packed with very readable and eye-opening info.

You see, in the 1940’s the Food Stamp program was designed to accomplish two significant needs. First to improve nutritional access to those in need, and second to support agriculture. At that time, agriculture meant produce and farmers, not big business and multi-national conglomerates like Cargill, Walmart and PepsiCo.

And did you know that bailout-receiving Big Bank JPMorgan Chase dominates SNAP servicing with contracts for 24 states, Guam and the Virgin Islands. Very nice for them. How nice?

“In 2010, SNAP EBT operating and

equipment costs (split 50-50 between
the states and the federal government,
as are all SNAP administrative costs)
amounted to more than $314 million,
according to USDA data.”

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Yikes. It is a large and convoluted issue.

Judging each other and pointing fingers at those we don’t understand and can’t really relate to is exactly the smokescreen needed for Big Food to continue squeezing out small farms and retailers and compromising the health of those least capable of fighting back.

All in the talking point spirit of “Preserving Choice”.

Don’t allow your judgement of the system’s abusers squelch your desire to help those in real need. This program is truly about giving America’s children the best start in life possible: it’s time for us to get a little closer and look clearly at the people behind the statistics.

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This film, A Place At The Table,  will pull all the scattered bits of opinion, judgement and misinformation into perspective. Get yourself to a theater asap, or gather a group and watch it at home via iTunes or Amazon, and I dare you to not be inspired to roll up your sleeves and get busy doing something.

I know this past election season was an exhausting one, and we’ve all had more than enough. But don’t drift off just yet.  We need to tell Congress Federal Nutrition programs are crucial to hungry children. While they may be imperfect, the program we have is the best we’ve got.

Follow this link to a form from No Kid Hungry that makes it painless to contact your local senator and stress how important it is to keep food available to those in need. Then we can get to work on making the programs more effective and corporation-free.

What are your thoughts about the role of government in food and helping those without financial and/or physical access to healthy food? 

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11 thoughts on “in which we ask: are you hungry enough?

  1. Excellent post. I tend to lean in the same direction you are. People that need the assistance also need access to better quality food. Not everyone who gets assistance can get to a farmers market. There also needs to be more education about how to cook – honestly, what good is getting to a farmers market when the only thing you know how to do is used a microwave? Home Ec needs to be in every public school, taught the way it was in the 40’s.

    1. It’s funny how all the “fluff” eliminated from school curriculums like home ec, gym, art, music etc turn out to be more useful than we ever credited them for.

      Often, our recommendations for what people should be eating to save money shows our ignorance of the reality of the lifestyle: the extra time caused by lack of luxuries like washers & dryers, equipped kitchens, the extra time and limitations imposed by public transportation. Plus, the sheer amount of time & energy spent chasing money, waiting in line and the inability to find telephone time particularly for the automated bullshit required for many administrative tasks and utility companies.

      If the price of helping is the percentage of people selling black market lobster, then so be it. There will always be people who prefer to work any system.

      1. I had not thought about the reality of the lifestyle but I also know many women with children using the SNAP program that have the ability to juggle all of those tasks and still feed their children well – but – they were taught by their mothers how to cook good food. They understand what constitutes healthy food and seek it out. I understand as well that there are such food deserts in urban areas that it is virtually impossible for anyone to get anything unless it comes from a convenience store. Truly sad. I am fortunate that I grew up in a family that raised at least 60% of their own food and learned how to preserve it all. I still contend that what really is lacking is education. If these kids learn something practical in grammer school it could help them in life, that’s the key.

  2. I have been inside Walmart and other grocery stores and used my cellphone to shoot photos and share them on Twitter…. of WIC items. Next time you’re in the Dairy section of the grocery stores… compare the prices of all the other common items with the designated WIC approved items. It will make your blood boil! This is supposed to be a program aimed at nutrition for mothers and infants. Yet, the stores are jacking the prices up for those items, some as much as 3 times more than the others. I have photos on a cd from Walmart, where I busted them charging over $4.00 for a WIC approved gallon of milk, while the other Whole Milk was only $3.49. At that same Walmart, I purchased a 2lb. block of sliced 100% Whole Cheese for less than $9.00. But the WIC approved item was over $4.00 for only 16 SLICES. Pitiful.

    1. That’s interesting Three Cedars. What state are you in? Each is different – here in PA there are no specific WIC approved items. Milk here must also be more expensive. Wonder why a block of cheese would not be approved but value added slices is? Again, not at all like that in PA., your card buys any brand of cheese you want..

      1. I’m in Tennessee. Almost every store I’ve gone into only has 1 Brand of various items labeled Approved for WIC. I know that they fixed a serious problem in Texas, where recipients were using their food stamps to buy drugs. It became a bold joke, when you could drive by any grocery store after midnight and see the parking lots full. That’s when local cops got most of their intel for their sting operations! And then they switched to the cards. But that’s only minimized that continuing activity. Like mice in a maze. They always find a way. The largest part that bothers me is the backwards thinking they use to solve all these issues. If you’re gonna cut them off… you need to fill that hole with a pro-active self-reliant tool. Providing education and space for growing a veggie garden. I can’t see that idea belonging only high in the minds of professors. Ya’ know?

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