I was annoyed to read a wishy-washy, touchy-feely article about the forthcoming cuts in the food stamp program. Here's an excerpt.
Food stamp benefits to 47 million Americans were cut starting Friday as a temporary boost to the federal program comes to an end without new funding from a deadlocked Congress.
Under the program, known formally as the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program, or SNAP, a family of four that gets $668 per month in benefits will find that amount cut by $36.
"It may not sound like a lot but to a person like me, it is," says Annie Crisp, 30, a single mother of two girls in Lancaster, Ohio. "It's not just a number."
She says she received a little less than $550 a month in food stamps and now will receive $497. Crisp, a babysitter who brings home about $830 a month, says the food stamps help her buy her family fresh fruits, vegetables and meat.
Crisp worries now she may end up trying to supplement her family's groceries by going to a food bank or cutting into her electric or gas money for the month. The cut, she says, also means she will have to buy more canned fruits and vegetables, foregoing her daughters' favorite fruit, kiwi, and buying packaged meat.
. . .
SNAP, which benefits one in seven Americans, is administered by the Department of Agriculture and is authorized in a five-year omnibus farm bill covering all agricultural programs. Congress is currently debating the bill, which has additional cuts to the program totaling up to $40 billion. A cut that size, say advocates ... would be devastating.
There's more at the link.
This whingeing and whining about the cuts is simply nonsense. The SNAP program has more than doubled in size since 2007, which is completely unsupportable. It's done so largely because it's been actively promoted to the poorer sections of society by the Obama administration. This was done as a political ploy, not out of hardship and necessity. I have no moral qualms whatsoever about reining in such wasteful and unnecessary expenditure - particularly when there's so much fraud and abuse of the system.
Furthermore, much of the food assistance provided is wasted on luxuries. I witness people buying steak, frozen pizza, soda and candy using their EBT cards almost every time I go to a supermarket. Many of my friends can say the same. I'd love to know who authorized the waste of public funds on such frivolous expenditures. If you can't afford to feed your family out of your own pocket, why should you be allowed to buy luxuries at taxpayer expense? The mother quoted in the article whose daughter's favorite fruit was kiwi - too bad! If you're poor, you don't buy kiwi fruit. Period. It's as simple as that.
If SNAP were limited to buying staple foods only - no fast food, no candy, no sodas, no pre-prepared or pre-packaged food like frozen meals - I have little doubt that its cost could be cut substantially without impacting the quality or quantity of decent nutrition available to families. I think I could provide a nutritious, tasty diet for less than one dollar per person per meal. Three meals per day for a family of four would probably cost no more than $10; and over a month, that would come to about $300. Throw in a third extra for emergencies, and I reckon that family could feed itself for $400. According to the article above, it's currently getting $668. There's your waste, right there! $400 per month will provide an adequately nutritious diet for a family. There wouldn't be many desserts or treats, but there'd be more than enough food, and good-quality food at that. Sure, it would take more time to prepare it; but that's part of the penalty for taking money out of taxpayers' pockets. Why should taxpayers pay for convenience as well as the food itself?
If you cut out the fraud and abuse, and limit SNAP benefits to staple foods only, that would probably cut the program's cost in half . . . or by the same amount as the $40 billion Congress might cut from it. That works for me.