Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Food Stamp Vexation

Yes, this is real... It was found in the parking lot of a grocery store. 

Currently the USDA is mounting a campaign to raise the number of people on food stamps in the United States. You heard that right: Despite the fact that there are more Americans than ever on food stamps currently, the government wants there to be more. The same government that by year's end will likely have added $1trillion to the national debt. Last year alone the United states government spent $75 billion on food stamps.
The Current plan is for the government to spend $2.5-3 million dollars on advertisements and PSA's advising those who are eligible to receive food stamps but do not yet to apply for the government safety net program. Currently, 1 in 7 Americans are on foodstamps, amounting to approximately 46 million people. However, it is estimated that around 1/4 of the people eligible have not applied to receive them for various reasons. This campaign is meant to target minorities, the unemployed and the elderly.
Go to 1:50
Why this is bad:
Food stamps, for those who absolutely need them, are meant to act as a temporary way for families to obtain the food that they need. However, by marketing it in the way that the government has, it is becoming a means of obtaining food that people are coming to rely on for longer durations of time than originally intended. Also, initially food stamps were meant to provide the basic forms of sustenance that a person needed in a healthy diet, but the definition of what constitutes food has expanded drastically. Full list of eligible "food" here.

Soft drinks, candy, cookies, cakes and energy drinks being covered by food stamps is ridiculous. Their nutritional value, if any, is superseded by these items' negative aspects such as an abundance of sugar and fat. I refuse to even comment on the stupidity of allowing a gift basket to be purchased using food stamps. Also, allowing seafood and steaks (luxury items so to speak) to be purchased, the wrong message is being sent.

In conclusion, I think food stamps are great when used correctly. For a family going through a tough time it is important that they have the means to feed themselves and not worry about putting food on the table. However when food stamps are buying things such as holiday gift baskets and energy drinks I have an issue with that. This does not encourage the recipient to strive to get away from government dependency. The day I lost faith in how food stamps are currently dealt with was the day that I stood in line at the grocery store with a cart full of Lean Cuisines and watched someone pay for two giant steaks and crawfish with food stamps. Glad to see that rather than attempt to encourage people to get away form using food stamps we're encouraging more people to apply for them.

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