Skip to comments.Food Stamps: Policy or Political Payoff
Posted on 02/26/2013 5:19:11 AM PST by Kaslin
In an early strategic preparation for the struggle to avoid the fiscal cliff, the president and several Democratic luminaries decided to redefine as essential several entitlement programs. In an old fashioned way of manipulating the public, they began to redefine commonly held beliefs. In the interest of time, we will share only one example.
Last December, Newark Mayor Cory Booker spent a much-publicized week trying to live the life of a food stamp recipient. And after a nationwide media tour, we learned many valuable lessons. First of all, we learned that giving up your daily Starbucks causes headaches, and leftovers are not as pleasant as five-star dining. Publicity stunts aside, food stamp usage is indeed at an all-time high. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported recently that nearly 48 million people were enrolled in the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). This is both the largest number of people and the largest percentage of the population ever.
In some ways this is unsurprising: we are in the midst of a weak economy. The program was intended to be supplemental; not a replacement for a familys entire food budget. It follows that an increasing number of families might have difficulty putting food on the table. A closer look at the situation, however, raises some concerns.
The first is that people are not necessarily turning to food stamps, as much as they are being recruited to receive them. Since 2008, the USDA has produced Spanish language radio advertisements about SNAP, with the expressed goal of increasing the number of Spanish speaking individuals receiving food stamps. The spots were created in the style of popular Spanish language soap operas. In each episode, characters talk to one another about the benefits of food stamps and how important they are to good health. Often they encourage others to overcome their pride of self-sufficiency and enroll in the program.
The USDA believes that increasing SNAP enrollment among the Latino population will improve their overall health and well being. The USDAs website, explaining why it wants to increase enrollment while the federal government is running a trillion dollar deficit, says the campaign exists so that everyone can feed their families healthy, nutritious food. Apparently, they believe there are many unreached Latinos who cannot do this without government aid.
This is not new territory for the food stamp program. During the early days of President Lyndon Johnsons Great Society programs, thousands of federal recruiters were deployed to the black community to persuade African Americans to overcome their pride and accept food stamps. The USDA magazine reported in 1972 that, "With careful explanations . . . coupled with intensive outreach efforts, resistance from the 'too prouds' is bending.
The USDA accomplished its mission: approximately 25% of black Americans are now enrolled in SNAP, and many of those households have been receiving food stamps for two generations. Has this improved black American health, as the USDA claims it will for Latinos? African Americans, even after three generations of food stamps, have lower life expectancies than whites (74.3 years to 78.4, respectively). While starvation is largely a thing of the past in America, blacks suffer from higher rates of heart disease, obesity and diabetes than their white counterparts. Ironically, Hispanic Americans currently outlive both whites and blacks.
As Professor Gary Galles of Pepperdine University points out:
Studies find little difference between the nutritional adequacy of the diets of low- and high-income families, so that the problem is vastly overstated. Added food spending also often fails to improve nutrition, as less nutritious but more convenient pre-prepared food is substituted for healthier home-prepared food. Further, obesity is a more common problem among low-income families today than lack of food. Therefore, trying to force recipients to consume more food than they would otherwise by giving food aid instead of cash would probably do little to improve nutrition, but would worsen obesity problems.
So it is by no means clear that increased enrollment in the food stamp program will improve the health of Latinos in our country. The aggressive USDA campaign goes to the heart of the programs mission. The federal food stamp program was begun in 1939 as a way to get rid of large agricultural surpluses that the government had purchased from farmers. Years of the Great Depression had made hunger a real danger for some Americans, particularly in cities, but the program was discontinued in 1943 when widespread unemployment and unmarketable crop surpluses were no longer issues.
Food stamps were revived in the 1960s as part of President Johnsons Great Society, and federal recruiters were dispatched to increase enrollment in the program. This marked a decided shift in the philosophy of what enables people to actually get out of poverty. One of the elders in my church, a PhD in economics, was actually apart of evaluating the effectiveness of the early food stamps program. The problems with the program are the same today as they were then. A man with get-up-and-go would rather have help establishing a new business or leveraging the support he receives from the government. The American Dream was built on the idea of self-reliance: that given sufficient opportunity, anyone could succeed by hard work and determination. Despite slavery and Jim Crow, black income rose at a faster rate before Johnsons programs than it did afterwards.
Anyone who works among the poor in America today knows the rarity of that pride of self-reliance, they also see the problem of generational poverty in both urban and rural America. Like crack cocaine, the government dole is very addictive. Blacks and Latinos need policies that will empower them, not federal recruiters to lure them into greater dependence. And at a time of unprecedented deficitswhen our government needs to both raise revenues and cut spendingwe need SNAP to enroll only those truly in need.
why bother with food stamps? Just open the warehouse door to whoever wants in and let them take whatever they want
I see way more rich people that look like they are starving than poor. The poor look like they eat enough for an army
“Food Stamps” like other welfare programs has gone from being a way to provide assistance and sustenance to those in real need to just another wealth redistribution vehicle intended to equalize outcome.
Just think how much better we could treat the truly needy if we weren’t feeding millions of illegals and lazy lard-butt, able bodied Americans who think the world owes them room, board and free meals, generation after generation.
the poor eat cheaply and eating cheaply is unhealthy.
I live in a relatively sparsely populated county in North Georgia. At the last Census, it is 96% white, 1% black and 3% other (guess who they are).
Each and every time I go to Walmart (at least after 11AM - they’re grumpy before then and thus stay in bed) I never fail to have to be behind some white woman and child(ren) with a whopping full cart of groceries. Many times accompanied by the hubby. Always ending the purchase with the customary “pull out” of the Peaches on a Green Background (an EBT card)....Always! I read somewhere that a large portion of Walmart’s grocery sales here and elsewhere number in the 40% region.
These ‘women’ network; they stupidly encourage other ‘women’ to apply for SNAP and that EBT card. They do not realize that each time they do that, the pool gets smaller and their ‘allowance’ eventually gets reduced.
There are people that genuinely need some assistance, but not 48 million. To most, the SNAP, TANF, EITC, WICs, Section 8 and all the rest of the ‘free stuff’ are just endless manna from heaven and their RIGHT!
They don’t realize that taxing the incomes of the rich wouldn’t make a dent in our national debt; wouldn’t even cover a large portion of the Deficit. The only way to make a substantial dent in both is to take all the wealth, and that includes seizing private IRAS, 401Ks, Roths, etc.
When this happens (and they, goverment, ARE planning this) we all end up in that EBT line (or whatever they’ll call it then) and you won’t be able to check out with a whooping big cart of food on somebody else’s dime - it will be a pittance for subsistence)
yeah that’s the mantra, you got that down bud
Inevitably they end up with half a cart of things they 'don't want' which the store has to restock. The cashier's performance will be in the toilet because they've had to scan and remove this and that and this and that, other customers get irritated at the delays... worse is when they don't know their pin number and the system locks them out for 24 hrs after too many failures.
The freeloaders in my county are experts at gaming the system.
They only need that one ‘ticket’ a baby, and then they’re all set. Don’t need a job, just a Section 8 voucher for a trailer rental, Get that WICs voucher, SNAP and apply for TANF, and they have a disposable income that is more than the cashier they have checkout their booty. All too many of them are under 25, many in their teens having learned the scams from their mothers who do the same. It is a pitiful situation to see so many succumbing to sloth and freeloading.
I have been approached in the grocery store to let them pay for my groceries with their cards and then give them the cash.
The “poor” eat
and eating lazy is unhealthy.
(Lazy = junk food, processed food, pre-prepared food)
I have seen the way fat people shovel it in and the food disappears before you can say Jack Robinson. It is the amount too, not just what. I know skinny people who eat nothing but cookies, just not 2 packages in one sitting. Let’s see, 6 cookies vs two packages, hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Everybody eats lazy these days, no one has any time to make homemade and are you trying to tell me homemade with all that butter and sugar and cream is fewer calories and healthier?
No, what you are talking about is the yuppie way to eat: baked fish and asparagus and a glass of chardonnay. Very few people actually eat like that. Kids for sure will not eat that. But my kids are skinny and I swear, they live on Panera, Chick Filet and McD’s. However there are times they actually say they are not hungry! I cook every night, meatloaf, Swiss steak, spaghetti, chicken masala, salmon and wild rice with brocolli or asparagus and sometimes they will eat it, and sometimes they won’t. But none of us is a heifer. I also make brownies and turtles, banana bread, chocolate chip muffins, homemade waffles with maple syrup, raspberries, blackcberries, strawberries and whipped cream but you are darn tootin’ I am using real butter, white flour, pecans etc.
Correct. Raising the minimum wage is a vote buying redistribution scheme as well.
But what the hell do I know? I'm just a working stiff who should shut up and pay my taxes.
the poor eat cheaply and eating cheaply is unhealthy.””””
You have obviously NEVER been a grocery checker & seen exactly what those on food stamps or EBT benefits are actually buying at the grocery stores.
I have been such a checker.
As far back as the early 70’s, every food stamp oerson I waited on had much better things in their cart than I was buying in my cart-—and I was working FULL TIME.
Also, you aren’t paying attention to the many stories of people standing in line at the grocery store behind a food stamp recipient & their eyes- on witnessing of what those people are getting with YOUR tax money!!!
Something is drastically wrong when a full time working person lives lower on the food scale than a parasite.
One day, I got behind a young man and his wife and new baby. They couldn’t have been more than 18 or 19 years old. She was wearing designer pajamas as was he. Both were wearing bedroom slippers! This was at 12PM.
When it came time to pay, ‘big family provider man’ stepped up and opened his wallet and pulled out that EBT card. They were with Momma Welfare who ponied up the cash for the cigarettes and beer... saw them again this year sitting at the Jackson-Hewitt Tax booth there getting their Refund Anticipation Loan Check for the $5K EITC cash back return they’re getting from you and me....
I get so pissed! I told my kids I’d disown them if they took something they didn’t earn and I see this shit. People like this are breaking this country, just like Obama wants.