For compassionate, careful use of food stamps

For compassionate, careful use of food stamps

September 27th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

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.