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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