Opinion: SNAP isn't about a 'free lunch'
November 11th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
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On November 12, Dr. Sanjay Gupta hosts CNN Dialogues, focusing on the issues of food security and food deserts in the United States, with a particular emphasis on the nearly 16 million children who spend their days and nights hungry. Learn more about the series here. Panelist Hugh Acheson is the chef/partner of Five & Ten and The National in Athens, Georgia and Empire State South in Atlanta, Georgia as well as a judge on the current season on Top Chef, and author of "A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen."

Today is Veterans Day and I would like to thank my grandfather for his sacrifice. I don’t think he was fighting for his individual rights when he lost his life during World War II, riding in a jeep far into enemy territory in Occupied France. He was fighting for a greater idea of freedom that defines modern democracies, a collective freedom that allows us individual liberty. First we succeed together, which gives us the allowance to succeed as individuals.

When we build a society, as we continue to do every day, we need to think of everyone. Success for the lower and middle class in recent years has been made difficult to attain as the American dream has become an elusive goal. Stacked against success are many pitfalls that seem to keep the poor, well, poor. High interest rate loans, lack of viable employment, housing-market collapses: all of these things have not only kept people from rising out of poverty but have driven more people into it.

The poverty rate for children in my state of Georgia is 26%, a figure that makes me queasy. Cuts to programs to assist those in need make me angry. It’s a divisive issue but I prefer to be on the side of trying to help those in need. I just firmly believe in this statement: We are better off as a country when all of our kids have access to nutritious food.

The most recent cuts to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (formerly known as "food stamps") took $36 a month out of the food budgets of a family of four. But given the economic engine that SNAP is, the more honest economic assessment would be that it took billions out of our economy. Spending less on food hits farmers, grocery store owners, food packagers, truckers, folks who work at the farmer’s market and people who work at the dairy.

We live in a country that, despite its successes, has the lowest life expectancy of any affluent democracy with a population above 10 million. Sadly our reactions to hunger and poverty have largely been to either ignore or vilify. These reactions will eventually catch up to us.

Look, this isn’t about a free lunch, but it is about coming to terms with an economic reality: the richness of a few has been at the expense of many. The middle class dream in the U.S. just got a foreclosure notice. SNAP gives back some decency to those affected in the form of access to a better diet.

Some would argue that this creates a welfare state or a consistent dependent class, but the reality is that more than half of SNAP recipients are on the program for less than a year. Another argument made against SNAP is that people buy non-nutritional food with the funds, but studies show that purchases for groceries is much the same throughout all rungs of society, SNAP assisted or not.

The next generation of America doesn’t need a crutch but it does need a helping hand. SNAP is an investment in our healthy future.

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Witnesses to Hunger: A portrait of food insecurity in America
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soundoff (422 Responses)
  1. thefoodstampdiaries

    Reblogged this on The Food Stamp Diarie$ and commented:
    "SNAP" isn't about a free lunch! Wish we could reblog this more than once for emphasis on this fact!!

    April 16, 2014 at 12:45 pm |
  2. dave

    I own a lot of Stock in Wal-Mart and McDonalds so I am a big supporter of SNAP. The Walton family of billionaires needs this constant flow of welfare money so they do not have to pay their own workers.

    December 6, 2013 at 8:18 am |
  3. cherry koolaide

    While it is true some people abuse the system, keep in mind that it is some. Not everyone or even most people sell their benefits or waste it on junk food and empty calories. The people that do this or who only buy prepackaged foods may do so out of ignorance or because they lack cooking facilities and may only have a microwave or may not have working utilities. Not by any means do I excuse anyone who just blatantly abuse or misuse their benefits, often times it is the innocent children who suffer. There are plenty of families that bargain shop clip coupons and bulk bulk and do anything to save and get more food to take care of their families, sometimes still falling short. There are many families who work and still barely scrape by working long hours. There is even a steady stream of people with college degrees unable to find work in their field and have to take minimum wage jobs.Personally, I work full time and commute by bus (3 hours a day just for transportation by bus) and take care of my children and my brothers and sisters(who are minors) after our parents passed away, a total of six children and I barely get by. I receive food stamps and pay for eveything else I pay rent utilities and provide for all 6 children and it is a daily struggle. I have never sold my benefits or even thought about it ever, and I cook everything and try to make all that I can from scratch. I'm divorced and do receive child support for my children but I barely make it each month. Not eveyone who receives aide is a loser, rather than see my family in foster care where anything can happen I support and love them along with my own children. With 7 people i get $528 in food stamps and I am thrifty to the last penny. Especially with the cuts in food stamps , some people are getting desperate. It is not easy to find a job even in fast food these days with credentials, especially if you are over qualified and your chosen field job market is low or almost non existent. Especially if you live in a smaller city , some people drive cities away to look for work and spend most of their money on gas back and forth to work. Times are hard.
    Sometimes a illness will have you unable to work and employers are not required to extend FMLA after the initial period. Some people made comments about people receiving aide having nice clothing or smartphones or money. You do not possibly know what circumstances are for some people. If you lose your job due to a serious or prolonged illness or god forbid you get laid off. Do you sell your phone , that you need to get another job with? Do you sell all of your clothing to a resale shop and wear rags? Do you sell your only family vehicle and become dependent on public transportaiton if any exist? I know for sure not having a vehicle provides less job choices as then you are confined to where you can get to. What if you have an accident ? Benefits do not come instantly . Sometimes people can downgrade in a bad situation , other times it is not feasible. I would think more pople would have compassion for those who truly are in need, because guess what? It can happen to you too.

    November 14, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • dave

      Cherry - I own a lot of Stock in Wal-Mart and McDonalds so I am a big supporter of SNAP. The Walton family of billionaires needs this constant flow of welfare money so they do not have to pay their own workers.

      December 6, 2013 at 8:19 am |
  4. Stalin's Ego

    I have heard wildly varying numbers as far as SNAP & WIC benefits.
    According to the USDA (http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/SNAPsummary.htm & http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/25wifyavgfd$.htm)
    The 2012 SNAP average benefit per person per month was $113
    The 2012 WIC average per month per person was $47. WIC is additional to families that have pregnant women and children up to 5 years old.
    Therefore, a family of 4 with 2 kids below 5 would receive about $593/month in benefits.
    Any family of 4 should be able to meet their food needs on that amount.
    Even without WIC, (say the kids are over 5), they still get $452/month.
    Remember, the S in SNAP is "Supplemental" and not "So you can buy everything you want"
    You may not have the most appetizing meals, but you can certainly provide a balanced diet with that amount of money.

    November 13, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • Britni W

      You are incorrectly assuming that each person receives the same amount – there is a base line for 1 person, and then an increase per additional person -but it is not x amount per person, it increases less and less with each additional person. two families of 2 people each will receive more that a single family of 4.

      January 13, 2014 at 11:10 pm |
  5. Question Heir

    For those people who are criticizing the food choices that people on the SNAP program make, please keep in mind that people on this program are usually on it because they have very little. In many cases, that could mean not having access to a full working oven or range, or to a large enough refrigerator or freezer.

    When what you have is a microwave or hot plate and a mini fridge, your options for food grow even more limited. You can't buy the same sorts of foods that you would if you could actually bake, or keep large amounts of food cold. You're going to be buying much more boxed and instant foods and things that appear to be junk foods, because you have little choice.

    So keep in mind that looking in someone's grocery cart is only a glimpse of their lives. You never really know what their situation is. They may not have any other choice.

    November 13, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • marisab67

      I'm so glad my perspective helped and you totally got that everyone doesn't have a full set of knives and a sub-zero to hold lots of kale. There are many people at the food pantry I go to who actually give the food they get away b/c they have no way to store or cook it.

      November 13, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
      • Question Heir

        Well, I actually wrote that before I read your article, but it happened to mesh so well, and you really did give me another perspective with your article. :)

        My own experience with this situation was temporary, and I wasn't on assistance of any kind. But I lived in an efficiency that really had no kitchen at all. I brought a microwave and what was actually a wine refrigerator that I'd been given (very tiny, like a mini fridge without a freezer). At some point I acquired a hot plate, but I honestly didn't use it much, because then you needed pots and pans and the whole nine yards. When you have to do your dishes in your bathroom because of a lack of kitchen, pots and pans are an issue.

        My diet was very different. I didn't buy fresh or frozen foods unless I was going to eat them that day. I bought a lot of instant meals that you can keep in your cabinet – like the Hormel meals that don't need to be refrigerated. I really couldn't eat fresh meats unless I went to a restaurant, because cooking chicken or fish in a microwave is really gross. I ate a lot of microwaveable pastas and rices, and steam-able bags of veggies. I ate a lot of sandwiches as well.

        I was fortunate. I might not have been able to afford a better place, but I was able to afford food better, so I was able to shop every couple of days instead of all at once to make best use of the money. But it gave me a good perspective on how it makes things more difficult when you don't have the proper instruments to cook with.

        November 13, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  6. Jennifer

    What bothers me and makes me and others around me cynical is when someone with a SNAP card goes to the Sheetz, Wawa, or 7-11 and puts sodas and junkfood on the counter, discovers their card isn't working and is forced to pull out the roll of $20 bills to pay cash...I don't have that kind of money just hanging around and I work a decent job. It is not an isolated incident...I people I do see on SNAP in the stores, etc, have a smart phone, cash, and many times and attitude that they somehow deserve it. There needs to be reform and until there is, you will see alot more people that work/pay with a bad attitude to those that seem to get so many things handed to them.

    November 13, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • Unegen

      What makes me cynical is the brouhaha over the exact opposite–when people who receive food stamps actually try to buy healthy foods, and a great fuss is made over how they're eating too well. There was a great hue and cry on the Internet a couple of years ago over two "hipsters" (the article's word, selected for derogatory context) who used food stamps at an ethnic market to buy Japanese eggplant and galangal to make a meal. No mention that at an ethnic market, Japanese eggplant and galangal are extremely cheap, or that the meal itself was both meatless and nutritious, so the two were really making the most of their benefits. Nope! Instead it was all "oh, they're wasting money eating so well" "waaah, I don't eat that well, why should they" etc. etc.

      November 13, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • Ann

      They may be using cash because they can't get a credit card or don't have a bank account. That roll of 20's may be what they just got from cashing their paycheck at a ripoff check cashing center.

      November 13, 2013 at 11:15 am |
      • Pat

        OR it may be the roll of cash the got from selling pot or coke, which is far more likely the case. Stop being so damned naive and liberal. Wake the hell up, people are gaming the system, directly on MY paycheck. Come live in the Bronx with me and tell me how many of these poor, innocent people on SNAP just can't get a checking account, as they drive away in their God-damned mercedes.

        November 13, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • John in WNY

      yeah, that annoys me also, and it reminds me of the years I spent in the ER when we would get young men and women in their early 20's who come in because they have a fever because they need a prescription for Tylenol so Medicaid will pay for it, because they "can't afford it (meanwhile they are wearing the new and fancy $200 sneakers, designer jeans and expensive leather jackets.

      November 13, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • Josie

      Many people in this type of situation don't have a regular bank account so the money they pull out of their pocket is all the money they have in the world. Try a little empathy towards your fellow human beings. Stop being so self rightous.

      November 13, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • marisab67

      It would be even cooler to see Americans who have jobs and gas in their cars and heat in their houses being a little less concerned about what their neighbors are doing. Those people are such a small percentage compared to the working poor who need the assistance even though they have made all the right life choices except the ones you don't get like the socio-economic class you are born into that sometimes you cannot escape. The American Dream is a dream when the crappiest loaf of bread at an actual grocery instead of the Dollar Tree costs almost $4.

      November 13, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
      • VladT

        The only reason we "care" (used loosely) is because we have a stake in it. If I am forced to have my hard earned income taken out so people can have SUPPLEMENTAL food benefits, it upsets me when the choices seem wasted, and then they are complaining that they should be getting more. Its a complicated, grey area issue, but that is why people are involved

        November 14, 2013 at 3:00 am |
  7. JD Candidate

    The Pro Bono Program at the University of South Carolina School of Law held a "SNAP Challenge" for students who agreed to attempt to live like people who rely on SNAP. It was nearly impossible. It is unfortunate that some people cannot find jobs, but to classify all unemployed people as lazy and to vilify them is unreasonable. Even more frustrating is to hear people talk about how it's "too bad" for children in those situations but that we (and the government) don't need to help them. That point of view is simply incorrect and somewhat selfish.

    November 13, 2013 at 8:59 am |
  8. Amanda

    I received SNAP for about a year for me and my daughter, I will tell you we would have starved without it. She has never gone hungry but I have. Thanks to SNAP and WIC she was never hungry. Now we do not receive any government assistance.

    November 12, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
  9. livingonthebrightside

    I am one of those people that have been on snap benefits. After working at a physician owned hospital for eight years, it was purchased by a larger health system and closed, and everyone was laid off. Unemployment benefits that are the only source of income for a family don't go very far. After paying for the basics, my husband looking for work after his company downsized, we were stretching the budget to the limit. After running out of everything, I said to myself "screw this", im filing because my children don't need to starve. I received benefits until I found a job in another healthcare facility. I gladly kissed my snap card goodbye! That was 12 years ago and I havent looked back. Im thankful that I was able to utilize the program while I needed it, but I was glad to get out of it. For alot of people, the elderly, disabled, and temporarily displaced, the program is necessary.

    November 12, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • John in WNY

      I think very few people would object to you receiving the benefits you did, the whole idea of the program is a safety net, which is what you used it for. You used the program until you got back on your feet, and that is nothing to be ashamed of.

      On the other hand we have people who have never worked and instead have decided to make a career of leeching of the working class and spending their entire life collecting SNAP and various other taxpayer funded subsidies. In addition many others do work, but play the system and work just enough that they still qualify for various state and federal welfare programs (and continue popping out kids to insure it, as well as to get the tax credits for taxes they never paid.

      November 12, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
      • Oberon

        Can you cite evidence to back up your assertions? Not just individual stories, but percentages, please.

        November 12, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
        • John in WNY

          So in other words you don't want what people see, you want numbers of the government, which pushes these programs, to show they are abused?

          As you insane? Why would the nanny state ever admit to such a thing, if they did even more would be outraged.

          But as for examples I could provide many, in just like little area of NY. For example a family I grew up with has expanded to over 45 people, 27 of them being over the age of 18 (this only counts children that live with one of the adults and not children that live with various baby mamas) and of those 27 adults only 7 of them have ever worked, and 4 of those never worked more then the occasional part time, or under the table, job. Of the other three only one actually worked continually (he actually retired from the US Army recently after serving 30 years) and the other two worked the occasional full time jobs, but even they admit they've never held a job more then 3-6 months.

          This entire family, save the one that joined the military has been on all the various welfare programs virtually their entire lives. Sure it's an aberration, but that fact that it's allowed, and that the workers of the country are forced to support them is at best criminal.

          Also of note is that the vast majority of people I know with more then 2 or 3 kids are on various welfare programs, since of course most who don't want to leech don't have kids they can't afford, but for people looking for welfare it will mean a raise since the taxpayer will be forced to support their children

          November 13, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
      • jph

        I'd like to know where you think this is happening. I've been on food stamps in Oregon and not only was REQUIRED to either work or be actively looking for work, they expected me to work the equivalent of 20 hours per week at minimum wage. I guess I don't know if the regulations are determined by the states or by the feds, but what you are perpetuating is a myth. Are there people who game the system? Sure. But given the hoops I had to jump through to get coverage and the frequency with which I had to reapply, there's no way people really just fake it their entire lives as a way to avoid work. Anyone who does that must really enjoy living in squallor, because you certainly don't get enough to live a lavish lifestyle. People like you who make those claims just make others more negative toward a system that's actually designed to help people. Unless you have actual statistics and proof of your claims, give it up.

        November 13, 2013 at 12:10 am |
        • Stella

          Took the words right out of my mouth. To answer your question, there are federal guidelines that mandate work and limit how long you can receive benefits. On top of that, each state administers their own program and adds in their own stricter guidelines. In my state, Texas, You have to be living in abject poverty to qualify for most programs, and maintaining eligibility is a massive undertaking that has to be reviewed every 6 months or within 10 days of any changes to your housing, job, or income. The amount of government aid you get per person each month would never in a million years offset the cost of adding a child to your family. Most people are still walking around with the false impression that people can live on welfare programs their whole lives and never work. Changes to federal law in the 90's that introduced work requirements and limits.

          November 13, 2013 at 11:32 am |
  10. saltgrain

    The life expectancy problem is most likely a result of TOO MUCH food, not too little. In addition to SNAP benefits, the families are able to take advantage of free meals for the children in school (and before/after school programs). Plus, there are food banks where families can access free food to supplement their SNAP benefits. Plus there are many community free meal programs like the one our church hosts where families can get nutritious meals. Plus there are WIC checks that provide for staple foods. So.. in reality there are a lot of meals during the month that many SNAP recipients aren't paying for at all out of their benefits especially if they have children. Sure, people can "fall on hard times through bad luck". However, there are quite a few people that continue to have children that they can't afford and continue to make poor choices that keep them in the poorhouse. There ARE opportunities out there for people that want to try. But, like my neighbor that lost his Philip Morris job for drinking at lunch... and was kicked out of the JobCorp for doing drugs.. and is now on "disability" since he maxed out of TANF.. and is still having kids he can't afford to feed... there are people that abuse the system.

    November 12, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • The End

      Does it make you feel better pointing the finger at & gossiping about your neighbor that obviously has issues?

      November 12, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
      • freedomliker

        It made me feel better. You see, I paid for that guys benefits and now he is exposed as having 'issues'.
        Who is going to keep paying for all this? Never mind we will just keep printing money right?

        November 13, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • Allison

      There are *many* people who DO abuse the system, but most, if not ALL, are young women who get pregnant just to get on the system. I am on the system, but NOT because I have any children. I was in an extremely bad car accident that changed everything about my life, up to causing me to lose 22 IQ points. This wreck got me physically, mentally, emotionally, and, most of all, with neuropsychiatric impositions. And to think that there are four more involving, detrimental reasons. Point is, I am on all that medical help, EVEN THOUGH I HAVEA DEGREE FROM FSU. When you have these kinds of problems, a degree falls too damn short. Even though I will never get off this type of aid, and will qualify for the rest of my life, I will never bring a child into the world to share it.

      November 12, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
      • The End

        "...but most, if not ALL, are young women who get pregnant just to get on the system." This is just idle talk. As if there was or ever will be any data collected wherein such a statement could ever be the result.

        November 12, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
        • Booseyboo

          I beg to differ... I knew a young woman many years ago who had gotten pregnant just to receive benefits. She and her boyfriend (at the time) thought it would be a easy way of life. Needless to say, it wasn't. She joined the Navy to better her life and dumped the no-load father of her son.

          November 12, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
  11. The End

    There is no "reason" for anyone's existence beyond survival, and the best chance of any single individual's survival is the survival of others. Everything and everyone that could be said "to be," especially forms of life, are 100% dependent upon some form of exteriority. Human beings rely on other beings for both the promise of language/culture (memes) and resources such as food. We're thrown into a world of social practices we did not create but received from others, for free! If someone places blame and guilt upon on another individual because they need nutritional of financial assistance, the former is just as guilty, as they've received a more "originary" assistance regarding the most fundamental elements of human existence (whether cultural or biological)! It is a debt we cannot even begin to repay.

    November 12, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • Allison

      Don't you get tires of your run-on sentences that never bear any grounding? There is nothing more than I hate than a politocrit running off at the mouth with nothing to say.

      November 12, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
  12. ART

    If you cannot afford to eat then starve its the Rethuglican way.If you cannot afford to have kids then don't have them and god forbid you are a female and get knocked up no abortion for you, you and your baby should starve

    November 12, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • captSpaulding

      No Rethuglican I know wants people to starve. They want them to be responsible for their own lives and choices. And living off the taxpayer shouldn't be a career plan. As opposed to the Demonrats, who want the middle class crushed and dependant on the benevolance of the government. (doing a good job of that, by the way. Just look at the trends since the Dimocranks took over Congress in 2006.) Equaility to a Dumbocrap means everyone is equally miserable. See Venenzuela. Or Cuba. Or France. Take your pick. Better yet, move there where you will be cared for by conservative business hating government officials.

      Isn't this a great positive dialogue?

      November 12, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
      • Oberon

        Great dialogue? Yea, you pulled its level up a long way with terms like Dimocdrap. You work for the Koch Brothers perchance?

        November 12, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
        • John in WNY

          How ironic that you claim they must be a right wing operative because he insulted democrats when the second word in his comment was "Rethuglican" but that didn't seem to bother you.

          So as you can see, you didn't add anything to the dialogue either, well except your own bias and reading comprehension failure.

          November 13, 2013 at 7:56 am |
  13. edwin

    America: A christian nation that follows the teachings of christ. Unless it's the parts where he helped the poor and needy. That's just plain old left wing bleeding heart liberal socialism.

    November 12, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • John in WNY

      There is a huge difference between choosing to help the poor and needy and the government taxing my earnings and property so they can give the money to others.

      I know we need a safety net in this country, but I also realize that the left has turned the net made to catch people into a nice comfortable lounge that people can get comfortable on and then spend their entire life kicked back on it.

      November 12, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
      • edwin

        So, how many able bodied people do you know that are on government assistance and living high on the government hog? Frankly, I don't think you know any. I sure as hell don't.

        November 12, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
  14. Shirley U Jest

    How much of the SNAP program is being used to inflate large corporations profit margins? These two articles will give some insight on how government supplemental programs are being played by large corporations.

    November 12, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  15. Ellen

    I just read where the cuts in the SNAP program are going to fund Mrs. Obama's Let's Move effort. Taking from one government vehicle and giving it to another......

    November 12, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Truth™@Ellen

      Would you please cite your source for that information? Thanks much.

      November 12, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
      • greennnnnn

        She/he cannot give a reliable link because there is none. It's from a RIGHT WING rag publication. I can't find anywhere else where this is stated. It's a lie. Also, these aren't CUTS. The amounts are being restored to what they were before. Such tripe.

        November 12, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
        • captSpaulding

          Try the New York Post. Not exactly a bastion of conservative thought. Firgure out how to use Bing yet?

          November 12, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
        • deillinois

          I wish the cost of food would be restored to what it was before.

          November 12, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
        • pat

          Capt – you've been told before to stop repeating that lie. The Post is a conservative paper and the report you "quote" isn't a fact.

          November 12, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
  16. Turth™

    I think of it like this...I am a huge proponent of free choice...If you are so poor that you qualify for SNAP, then you may have been subject to some bad luck, or you may just make poor choices. Either way, if you want to blow through your allotment in the first week of the month on steak and lobster, then great. Knock yourself out. Just do not even think of complaining in two weeks when you are broke.

    November 12, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • John in WNY

      My area has a very high percentage of people using various welfare programs, as for Food Stamps (yeah I know they changed the name to remove the stigma) I see the benefits cards used more the Poweraid, candy bars, chips and similar garbage then actual food (items that couldn't be purchased with them in the past.)

      November 12, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
      • Sky

        I, too, find it odd that someone can buy a giant Hershey's bar with SNAP but has to pay out of pocket for a hot rotisserie chicken from the same grocer. Still, each state can independently determine through the legislative process which foods it will allow to be purchased with benefits such as SNAP. If the choice of foods is a problem, send letters and lobby your state senators and representatives to change the food eligibility list.

        November 12, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
      • John in WNY


        While I understand what your saying, and don't disagree, you overlook that I live in the great socialist state of New York. In addition to that I am a conservative and live in the Western part of the state which means no one in Albany cares about a word I saw.

        These are the same psychos that decided that as the economic of NY tanked, even more then normal, their priorities were legalizing gay marriage (I don't oppose this, but during the crash it really shouldn't have been one of their top priorities) and giving a 10% increase in welfare benefits, despite NY already having some of the most generous welfare programs in the country.

        As an example, if you compare NY to California, which isn't exactly a conservative state. NY has about19.5 million residents with 5.5 million of the on Medicaid, and California has 38-39 million residents and has about 11.5 million on Medicaid/Medical.

        Now despite having less then half of the number of people on Medicaid then California, New York spends over $4 billion more per year (1/2 from the fed, 1/4 from the State and 1/4 from the counties) then California does.

        November 13, 2013 at 7:29 am |
  17. JCP

    Before 2009, SNAP spending was at about $30 billion per year. With the stimulus, that was increased to over $80 billion per year and wa to be ended, as per the law, in October 2013...which it did. The numbers agreed upon by both parties now will keep SNAP at about $77 billion, each year, for the next several years.

    Complaining about this cut is like saying:
    1- I used to give you $10 for food- you didn't have to do anything to earn it
    2- Now I'm giving you $25 for food- to help out even more
    3- Now I'm bringing it down to $20, 2X more than you used to get...how evil and uncaring am I?

    This article is crap.

    Literally, the SNAP spending was increased overnight by over $200% and extended will into 2020's. Don't tell me we aren't spending enough. If that's the logic then we would all go broke and all be destitute because there just is not enough money, or food for that matter, to supply everyone's food needs. That is a hard fact. It would be foolish to try and you would wind up with even more poor and starving people, meaning no one would be helped and everyone would be harmed.

    November 12, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • marisab67

      Please stop pretending that food stamps cost America ANYTHING. We subsidize huge agricultural corporations, they send the worst of the worst 'food' to these hubs, poor people live on crap food, and we pretend like it's costing us tax dollars.

      November 12, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
      • ken

        I worked in the supermarket business for forty years. What you said about the food being crap in poor neighborhoods is completely false. Everything perishable (produce, meat, dairy products) comes from our warehouses. It is then shipped to our stores. Whether it is Compton or Beverly Hills, the food is the same. The only major differences I see is in the customers. Much more obesity and theft in the inner cities. Much less obesity and theft in middle class neighborhoods. I'm sick of people blaming those who make good choices in life for the problems of those who make poor choices in life.

        November 12, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
        • marisab67

          Ken, you must be a clerk with no knowledge of how that food gets to the distribution center. Buyers buy it. In poor areas I doubt the orders for organics or non-CAFO meat even exist. But think those little thoughts, I mean, you work at A grocery store. One of how many million? If you think the Food Mart in Detroit orders the same food as the Gelson's on Ventura and Balboa, then you is a dummy.

          November 12, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Robert Foster

      Wrong there is enough food for everyone. Estimates place our countries food waste at 35%-40% and much of that is disposed of for no good reason other than it doesn't look shiny and appealing. Produce with water spots or dimples are thrown away at every level of production and sale. I agree that society cannot afford us all legitimate opportunities for material success. Poverty is needed in our culture. The poor provide an end market for many goods and services, while keeping used merchandise out of landfills by purchasing things second hand. And if it weren't for the cheap labor the working poor provide there would be no such thing as a value menu at any of the fast food restaurants many of the busy high earners in our culture utilize. Guess what that .99 cent hamburger is being provided at someone else's expense. Often times the latent effects of that cheap burger include absentee parents, poor nutrition for families, lack of educational opportunities and the perpetuation of racial and class inequalities in our society. Our society provides a surplus of goods and that includes food. There are few, however, that control that surplus.

      November 12, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • pat

      Your reply is crap. Its not about the total cost, its about how much each person gets. "I gave 10 people $10 each before, then (because there was a recession and so many more people are un- or under-employed) I gave 20 people $10 each, and now I give them $5."

      November 12, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
  18. jhol139

    I'm not going to say this to make anyone angry or so that I can be harassed, but when I was a child, my family received food stamps. It isn't something that we're proud of and we don't usually talk about it. My parents divorced and my dad left my mom with $50 a month in child support for four kids. She worked at a deli and made something like $4.50 an hour. There was no room in our budget for special treats, like movies or roller skating. We didn't even go to birthday parties because we couldn't afford presents. To make up for that, my mom would let us pick up one crazy, random thing when we went grocery shopping. In my case it was usally a box of little debbie snack cakes (super unhealthy, I know). She paid for these with food stamps. I'm only saying this so maybe someone will understand that she did it to make us feel special and it was the only thing she could afford. One dollar for a box of junk versus 5 for a movie, get it? Maybe some of the other people out there are thinking the same. Maybe not. It just makes me sad when I read all of this hate.

    November 12, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • Melina

      I am right there with you and I do talk about it to my kids, I am not ashamed. My dad got hurt when I was a teen and I had to be the one to go to the grocery store to buy food, with food stamps. Our electricity was shut off and I had a hot bath because I heated water on a campfire outside. I am a successful woman whose household makes six figures. I say this because so many people think you get on them and are on them forever or they see a certain type of person. I was a blond aired blue eyed barbie looking girl and I am thankful we had food to eat back then. My dad is fine and has been for years. We were on them for six months until my step-mom found a job. I make sure my kids understand that you help others and lift them up, not put them down.

      November 12, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • pat

      We never actually used the "food stamps" but we did have to apply one awful miserable time. Husband got another job just in time and we so very happily mailed those things back. We've been lucky since but will never forget.

      November 12, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • Ann

      It's a real shame that you have to fear being harassed for going through that experience.

      November 13, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  19. RichardHead

    Just a small FACT…There are 47 Million Americans enrolled in the SNAP program and these numbers have NOT changed in the past 13 weeks. Doesn't look like too many are trying to better themselves to me.

    November 12, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • marisab67

      Helpful suggestions Richard? Or just complaints about how sucky poor people are? Too bad we can't just mow them down as they stand in line to get all that free government money. Since they obviously love being there and have no motivation to be able to afford to live.

      November 12, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
      • RichardHead

        1. Cut the program by 40 to 50 percent
        2. Stop ALL transactions where the cards are used in exchange for cash.
        3. You answered your own question in your rant above.

        November 12, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
        • marisab67

          There is a card I can get and exchange it for cash? Hey Acheson, you were wrong. They're giving away cash, dude. Get your facts straight before you ever dare write such a bleeding-heart panders to more bleeding hearts post like this.

          November 12, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
        • RichardHead

          Perhaps you didn't hear of these cards being sold on Craigs List,it's been reported in all the MAJOR Newspapers. Oh,I forgot,You can't read or comprehend the printed word.

          November 12, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • deillinois

      No one will address the problem of no jobs, and jobs that pay so little that one must be on snap to survive. For the working poor, SNAP is corporate aid. If the corporations paid a wage one could live on the working poor would not need SNAP.

      November 12, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
      • AleeD®

        BULLSH!T. Learn to live within your means. Whining at corporate America for more money will yield you nothing laughter in the board room & company rhetoric to your face. Learn to live with what you earn. Humans lived for centuries without computers, DVDs, cable & cell phones. If things are that tough that you have to choose between your food and your phone, I hope you choose your food wisely.

        November 12, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
        • deillinois

          I am not whining I am stating a fact.

          November 12, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
        • AleeD®

          Again, bullsh!t.
          You said, "If the corporations paid a wage one could live on the working poor would not need SNAP."
          This is whining. Whining about how corporations aren't paying a so-called living wage. I got news for you: people with jobs need to learn to live on what they earn or better themselves to get better paying jobs so they can earn more. THAT'S the American way. If you opt to buy the latest iPhone before you buy groceries or pay your rent, you get zero sympathy from me.
          Oh, and de ill ... go Occupy something.

          November 13, 2013 at 7:37 am |
        • RichardHead

          I Proclaim this Port-A-John as my Domain….Don't TAX Me BRO...

          November 13, 2013 at 7:50 am |
      • Shirley U Jest

        How much of the SNAP program is being used to inflate large corporations profit margins? These two articles will give some insight on how government supplemental programs are being played by large corporations.

        November 12, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Owl96

      Yes, because in 13 weeks, you can enroll in school, get a degree, find a job, save your emergency fund and be fully self supporting. No one is trying to better themselves.

      November 12, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
      • Recruit

        Ever hear of boot camp, maggot?
        We might even make a man out of you in thirteen weeks.

        November 13, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • Robert Foster

      What and incredibly short sighted view of the situation. Just as with enrollment in in program, even one who exercise the smallest amount of logic would understand that there is a constant in-flow and out-flow of a program like this. The number of students enrolled at the University in my hometown is 27,000 give or take a few hundred every year, that must mean none of these inept persons are graduating and moving on, isn't that your perspective.

      November 12, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  20. ithappens

    In my area, there are two distinct types when getting Food Stamps. One group buys ingredients and cooks. I see baskets full of peppers, tomatoes, avocados, large packs (bulk = less expensive) of chicken and beef, flour and masa to make tortillas, cilantro and onions and things like that. Very little junk food, maybe some cookies or a box of sugar cereal.
    Then you have the group that buys tv dinners, junk food, sodas, frozen pizzas, etc.
    In the last week of the month, only one group is still shopping with their snap card. It's group # 1 because they budget the money out so they can still buy the fresh foods at the end of the month. The other group is at the food pantry bitching there are no frozen pizzas.

    November 12, 2013 at 10:34 am |
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