published Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

For compassionate, careful use of food stamps

In the United States — whose people are much better off than most in the rest of the world, even in bad economic times — we don’t want anyone to suffer from hunger.

That’s why there are countless private, charitable, voluntary programs — in addition to the $65 billion-a-year federal government food stamp program — to help people in need.

But did you realize that 46 million Americans are now on food stamps? What makes that troubling statistic even more alarming is the fact that it represents a 40 percent increase of people using food stamps from just four years ago.

Technically, we should point out that the current name of the federal effort is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. “Food stamps” used to be given by government to help needy people; now the benefits are provided through debit cards.

But whatever the program is called, the numbers are shocking. The 46 million Americans now receiving the aid from the federal government represent only two-thirds of those who are eligible.

Could there be any clearer demonstration of the severity of the current economic crisis?

Also of concern is how government food aid is used. Appropriately, aid is not provided for the purchase of things such as alcohol, tobacco and pet food. But inappropriately, ice cream, soft drinks, cookies, candy and even birthday cakes qualify.

That is a not a wholesome use of taxpayer dollars, even for the good purpose of helping the needy.

No, we do not want any American to go hungry. But government aid should focus on reasonably inexpensive, healthful foods — for the sake of the needy and taxpayers alike.

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conservative said...

This program is rampant with fraud and abuse. People able to work should not get food stamps period! I have personally witnessed store clerks ringing up non-eligible items as grocery to get a sale. People buy items for someone else in exchange for cash then buy their booze and tobacco.They can sell their card outright, because the card user is not required to show an ID, I see this everyday. The amount of "food" these cards provide is obviously too high. Did you ever notice the size of the people who use these cards?

September 27, 2011 at 8:03 a.m.
moon4kat said...

Conservative says the working poor should be denied food stamps. I disagree. Work should be encouraged, even though some employers pay so little that a family needs assistance to survive. I know of a man who works at the private business of a Republican TN State Rep.; the pay is so low that the worker needs (and, fortunately, qualifies for) food stamps to feed his family.

September 27, 2011 at 9:13 a.m.
acerigger said...

Food stamp fraud?How awful!! Where's the outrage over the Billions in shrink-wrapped hundred dollar bills disappeared in Iraq? Or the Billions of dollars worth of equipment about to be abandoned in Iraq as well as the Billions spent on "The Biggest Embassy In The World",also to be abandoned?

The "selective outrage" of the "Conservatives" never ceases to amaze me.

September 27, 2011 at 9:43 a.m.
acerigger said...

BTW, "No, we do not want any American to go hungry. But government aid should focus on reasonably inexpensive, healthful foods — for the sake of the needy and taxpayers alike."

Seems that I remember Michelle Obama got raked over the coals for suggesting the same thing. Hypocrisy anyone?

September 27, 2011 at 9:52 a.m.
nucanuck said...

We will soon be deciding whether to buy armaments or feed our nation.

September 27, 2011 at 10:25 a.m.
acerigger said...

The Agriculture Department’s annual snapshot on the characteristics of food stamp households, released Friday, shows that seven in 10 households receiving food stamps had no earned income last year, though many got other forms of government benefits. –Food stamps may be emerging as a lifeline for families after their unemployment insurance expired. Just 6.7% of households who received food stamps were getting jobless benefits.

– Nearly half of all food-stamp recipients, 47%, were children under the age of 18. Another 8% of recipients were age 60 or older.

– Whites made up the largest share of food stamp households, 35.7%. Some 22% of households receiving food stamps were counted as African American and 10% were Hispanic.

–U.S. born citizens made up the majority, 94%, of food stamp households.

September 27, 2011 at 10:44 a.m.
hambone said...

The conservatives love to boost about the 2nd Amendment and for good reason. But not for the porpose of self-protection.

We are all going to need the 2nd Amendment for the same reason the Founding Father intended.

To put food on the table!

September 27, 2011 at 10:49 a.m.
conservative said...

moon- Why don't you suggest to your friend that he seek employment with a Demoncrat TN State Rep. or another business owner who is a Demoncrat? They of course would pay him a "living wage", medical benefits, paid vacation, and provide a comfortable retirement. This would restore his dignity and ease the burden of the taxpayer who provides his food stamps.

September 27, 2011 at 10:55 a.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

Food stamp eligibility is not based on need. The only person I know who is on food stamps lives in a household with vast quantities of high quality food, including grass fed beef, free range chicken and garden fresh vegetables. There are THREE chest freezers in the basement full of these foods. The recipient spends her generous food stamp benefit on high cost seafood, frozen single serving meals, candy, energy drinks, soft drinks and similar.

The benefit was not originally sought out by the recipient. Social Service workers sought her out when she was in the hospital for the delivery of an out of wedlock baby. As the story goes, the workers were told about the situation but they continued to push the application as something the person was "entitled to" under the rules.

It makes me sick to see the misuse of this support mechanism.

September 27, 2011 at 12:31 p.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

acerigger said... "The Agriculture Department’s annual snapshot on the characteristics of food stamp households, released Friday, shows that seven in 10 households receiving food stamps had no earned income last year"

This statistic is misleading since multiple households can exist at one location. Residents identify themselves as separate households for the purposes of maximizing government uptake. This is a common ploy for a single mother living with parents, grandparents or a boyfriend.

September 27, 2011 at 12:41 p.m.
LibDem said...

"...government aid should focus on reasonably inexpensive, healthful foods...". Those darn liberals are trying to control our food again.

September 27, 2011 at 5:47 p.m.
hambone said...

BuRP, Have you noticed how some folks posting here use gross exaggerations in an attempt to make their point!

September 27, 2011 at 5:57 p.m.
EaTn said...

One simple solution to our food issue is to quit the ridiculous practice of feeding our autos the same thing we use to feed our kids, indirectly that is. Ethanol is a competitor of our food supply.

September 27, 2011 at 7:26 p.m.
UjokinRIGHTQ said...

conservative said... This program is rampant with fraud and abuse. People able to work should not get food stamps period! I have personally witnessed store clerks ringing up non-eligible items as grocery to get a sale

conservative, either your purposely lying or you're just ignorant and don't know how the program works. As someone who has worked with clients who qualify for foodstamps and other aid, here's how the program operates:

(1.) A person can have a fulltime job, yet their income is so low and household expenses so high that they can still qualify for foodstamps.

(2.) Clerks can't ring up non-eligible foodstamp items. Those debit cards automatically separates what foodstamp eligible and what is not. Those debit cards might also have cash balances on them if the person receives public assistance or childsupport. Therefore, cash register, which is computerized, automatically separates the foodstamp items from the non-foodstamp items. Those items that are not foodstamp eligible will be taken from the cash money side of the debit card.

Some of you are running this "my taxpayer dollars" mantra in the ground. You should be more concerned about your tax dollars, in the billions and even trillions, going to support countries and regimes around the world who wouldn't think twice about blowin us all off the face of the earth. Countries who are taking billions from U.S. as well as our enemies, and laughing all the way to some Swiss bank.

September 27, 2011 at 8:42 p.m.

True story, low-quality food actually causes people to gain weight, even if it is apparently cheap and available in quantity. Not that further itemization of food is necessarily cost-effective, how long would it take somebody like Wal-Mart to complain about having to sort out their foods even more for eligibility and demand compensation for the unfunded mandate.

If you're really wanting to stop the abuse, you could always serve them the same food as available at the Congressional cafeteria. We are paying for that, aren't we?

September 27, 2011 at 9:25 p.m.
conservative said...

Ujokin- A friend of mine has an able bodied worker who receives about $250 a month in food stamp assistance, who recently tried to buy an item in the grocery store. The clerk ran it through a couple of times, it was rejected, called a manager over and she did something to make it ring up grocery . This same man uses his card to purchase meat for a friend , who in turn gives him cash so he can buy tobacco. This same man gets his employer to sign paperwork which under reports his income. The employer does'nt even have to go to any food stamp office. I have seen people swipe their card and not be asked for an ID. This card could have easily belonged to someone else. A more subtle form of abuse is that this store charges higher prices which food stamp recipients don"t seem to mind paying, after all it's not really their money. These are the abuses I'm aware of and I'm sure there are more. If you are a bureaucrat then you are extremely niave if you are not aware of them also and then some. Most bureaucrats bend over backwards to qualify people for government assistance- job security. Is your food allotment too high if you can trade for cash or you are obese?

September 27, 2011 at 10:02 p.m.

Well, since you don't identify the item in question, for all we know it was a genuine bundle of food which was miscoded for whatever reason. It happens. I had a book ring up for hundreds of dollars once. And I'm sure somebody could steal my own credit or debit cards and use them without proper ID too. Do you want to require fingerprinting or retinal scanning?

Anything else is covered under the penalties for misuse that already exist. You should report your friend if you're concerned about his criminal behavior. Call 1-800-447-8477 or email hhstips@oig.hhs.gov and report this behavior. You are against crime, aren't you? Why aren't you telling the people who can do something about it instead of complaining about it here?

September 27, 2011 at 10:18 p.m.
acerigger said...

UjokinRIGHTQ , happywithnewbulbs ,Thanks for your common sense posts!

September 27, 2011 at 11:03 p.m.
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