Food Stamps: What Are the Facts?

October 2, 2013 in Publisher's Corner

A Girl Eats a Piece of FruitThere is currently a battle waging to reduce food stamp benefits nationally. The recipients of this public program consist of Americans of all backgrounds. The House of Representatives in a 216–208 vote decided to cut $40 billion from the program Sept. 29 under H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013. Republican senators suggested this week $20 billion in food stamp cuts were acceptable. Efforts to move ahead toward reconciliation are still being negotiated.

“It’s a sad day in the people’s House when the leadership brings to the floor one of the most heartless bills I have ever seen,” said Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.).

Who are affected by suggested changes?

  • A Gulf War veteran injured by chemical weapons and suffering from long-term respiratory damage who slipped through the cracks.
  • An army specialist returned from Afghanistan suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome.
  • A career grade-school teacher who was terminated after 20 years.
  • A widow, 75-years -old, who lost 90 percent of the value of her invested savings in the 2008 financial meltdown.
  • A mother of four who was reduced to part–time, low–wage work after losing her career due to illness.

These are a few of the faces of food stamp recipients. They defy stereotyping. They deserve better than public ridicule. They are people known to all Americans in their everyday lives. These individuals are not distributed along racial or educational boundaries.

“If I had a choice, I’d pay my own way. Things are so hard I don’t know which way is up. It’s not fair that others do so well and it just seems like it’s at the expense of those who aren’t,” said one Ocala, Fla. resident whose food stamp benefits were recently cut by the state of Florida.

Republicans in Congress remain proudly adamant in their opposition to funding feeding the poor.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) previously suggested to a CPAC gathering March 16, “Of every dollar that you hold in your hands, 70 cents of that dollar that’s supposed to go to the poor doesn’t. It actually goes to benefit the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. — 70 cents on the dollar. That’s how the president’s caring works in practice. So $3 in food stamps for the needy, $7 in salaries and pensions for the bureaucrats who are supposed to be taking care of the poor.”

The Washington Post’s fact-checking team call this a “misleading use of statistics in a major speech.” They also point out that among the Department of Agriculture, “Only 166 people manage the $82 billion food-stamp program — many outside Washington — and the budget document says that staff salaries amount to one-third of 1 percent of USDA’s budget for food and nutrition programs.”

President Barack Obama also has been labeled by conservative sources like former Speaker Newt Gingrinch as “the food stamp president”. As of  2012, 11 million persons joined the program during both the Bush and Obama presidencies, though only in three years during the Obama administration reaching a record 44.7 million. The economic situation had worsened following Bush’s term in office, however.

According to CNN Money,  “Much of what’s driving the steep climb in enrollment is the nation’s worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, when the food stamp program was created.”

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) recently directed the dialogue instead to hypocrisy and excess among Congress saying, “members [of Congress] travel to foreign countries under the guise of official business. They dine at lavish restaurants, eating steak, vodka and even caviar. They receive money to do this. That’s right, they don’t pay out of pocket for these meals.”

According to Congressional sources, members enjoy almost $200 per meal in expenses. That is equal to or greater than the maximum an individual may receive for food stamps per month who has no income whatsoever.

Those who wish to feed veterans in need, please visit Veteran’s Inc.

Assistance for children is available through Feed the Children.

General aid for the hungry can be assisted at Feeding America.