Food stamps ...???

@ladyluna (7004)
United States
April 1, 2008 8:17am CST
Hello All, While there are some people who legitimately need a helping hand, now and then (And where I fully support providing that helping hand) ... is the Food Stamps program really a good idea? Today, "The Independent", a UK news source has printed a story stating that: "... a record number of Americans will shortly be depending on food stamps just to feed themselves and their families." The story goes on to say: "As a barometer of the country's economic health, food stamp usage may not be perfect, but can certainly tell a story." Yet, I have to wonder if the story's author has considered that the U.S. Food Stamps Program has been plastering the airwaves with a barrage of radio commercials which basically indicate that pretty much everyone is eligible for food stamps? And, has been using taxpayer funds to promote the expansion of the program for over a year? Have you heard the commercials: "If you own a home, you're eligible for food stamps. If you have a job, you're eligible for food stamps. If you drive a car, or ride a bike, you're eligible ...." Have these commercials frustrated you as much as they have me? Why is our gov't paying for ad campaigns to expand this program? ________________________________________________________________ Here is a quote from the AARP (American Association of Retired People) web-site: "Are you eligible? (for food stamps)[i] There are three main areas of eligibility guidelines. To get food stamps, you must meet the guidelines in all three: Citizenship status Resource limits [cash, bank accounts and certain property] Income limits Citizenship: You must be a citizen – or a non-citizen who meets one of the many exceptions...." [/i] http://www.aarp.org/money/lowincomehelp/a2003-05-05-lowincome_foodstamps.html _______________________________________________________________ Now here's a portion of the actual guidelines for eligibility from the U.S. Food Stamps Program web-site: [i]"The 2002 Farm Bill restores food stamp eligibility to most legal immigrants that: - Have lived in the country for 5 years; or - Are receiving disability-related assistance or benefits, regardless of entry date; or - Starting 10-1-03, are children regardless of entry date. Certain non-citizens such as those admitted for humanitarian reasons and those admitted for permanent residence are also eligible for the program. Eligible household members can get food stamps even if there are other members of the household that are not eligible. (See Food Stamp Policy on Immigrants for information on qualified alien categories and eligibility) Non-citizens that are in the U.S. temporarily, such as students, are not eligible. A number of States have their own programs to provide benefits to immigrants who do not meet the regular Food Stamp Program eligibility requirements. For a table of those programs, see State Programs."[/i] Last modified: 3/14/2008 The full guidelines may be reviewed at this link: http://www.fns.usda.gov/fsp/applicant_recipients/eligibility.htm ________________________________________________________________ And finally, here is a pretty comprehensive history of the Food Stamps program: http://www.nal.usda.gov/ric/ricpubs/foodstamps.htm My questions to you are: [b]1. Should Food Stamps be a barometer of U.S. economic health IF the program is being used to skirt the issue of legal immigration? 2. Should taxpayer funds be used to urge (by way of advertising campaigns) 'pretty much everyone' to apply for assistance? For example: Someone in their early twenties who earns $1,107 (on the books), and who owns a house (hmmm, what about roommates -- that's OK) and a car valued at about $5k, and has $2,000 in a bank account, may be eligible for food stamps. 3. Would a portion of these funds be more wisely used in the goal of providing better job training for people, rather than as food subsidies? 4. Do you know anyone who is 'scamming the system', regarding eligibility? 5. What are your thoughts about all of this?[/b] [b]Now, this is in no way an attack on those folks who legitimately need a helping hand!!! Though, it seems to me that this program is ripe for abuse. What say you? Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I'm looking forward to hearing all sides of this issue. [/b]
4 people like this
8 responses
@rodney850 (2145)
• United States
1 Apr 08
LadyLuna, This program is and always has been abused! Yes, there are those out there that REALLY need this assistance and I say great but something needs to be done to address the huge fraud that goes on daily in the food stamp program. I personally have seen people take a list into the store and buy food with their food stamps and come out, give the food to someone else who then in turn hands them cash! This is fraud and I personally don't know how you stop it. I have been convinced for quite a while that the money spent on food stamps would be more useful in providing assistance to these people in REAL need to get better paying jobs or child care assistance so they can actually work and realize a gain.
@ladyluna (7004)
• United States
1 Apr 08
Hello Emeraldisle, You raise some terrific points here. Although the program is designed to provide for the nutritional needs of the recipients. The justification for expanding the Food Stamps Program from having to pay for food stamps, to free food allotment, was ushered in to law as a result of the defined nutritional deficiencies of Americans in certain poverty stricken areas. This is explained in detail in the last link that I provided -- The History of the Food Stamps Program. Oh and yes, you read that right. For many years, recipients had to pay for food stamps. The value of the stamps exceeded the cost of them, though it was not a free program! In the example that you have provided, it seems ridiculous for that single mom to NOT get a job, instead of collecting welfare. Specifically, a low income earner would still be eligible for some food stamps assistance, and would still be eligible for medicaid. So, why on Earth would someone limit themselves to $241 in cash per month? Two single Moms could join forces to trade child care between a day shift worker, and a night shift worker. Or they could team up for alternating work schedules through a temp. agency. Temp agencies regularly employ the same folks for long periods of time. There is job flexibility, and I've never heard of a temp. agency that pays a reliable worker minimum wage -- it's always higher. That same single mom, doing 40 hours of volunteer work, would earn 234.00 per 40hr. work-week, at a minimum wage job. That works out to $1014 per week in cash. Which exceeds the food stamps & cash assistance combined -- putting an extra $492.00 in her pocket. It simply does not make sense for that single mom to stay on welfare. Now, I would be all for that single mom collecting those same benefits, foregoing the community service or volunteer work requirement, IF she would attend a community college (which sometimes even provide child care), IF that single mom would commit herself to earning even a six month office skills certificate. Then she could easily bump her pay up to 8.00/hr to start, or more. If she didn't graduate from high school, then she should be able to extend that time frame to include earning her G.E.D. What's more, she could do that now! Given the parameters that you have provided, she would qualify for educational grants that would pay for her to get that G.E.D., and the certificate diploma! Make sense?
@filmbuff (2909)
• United States
2 Apr 08
Okay I probably qualify for food stamps. Especially now that I'm about to be unemployed. However I will not get them, because really I *don't* need them. They do serve a good purpose for those who do need them. However foodstamp programs and other welfare programs are often abused. It's an easy way out. People can survive by basically having children and getting handouts. Granted I don't want anyone to starve or be homeless, but the system is rigged against them. I have a relative who is a city bus driver. The vast majority of people who ride the bus, are on public assistance of all kinds. Obviouslly, they can't afford cars... From what he has shared with me, most of these people are abusing the system. They know how to work it to get free rides, free food, free housing, etc, etc. But there is a definite problem here, that is not the persons fault who is getting assistance. And that problem is... (wait for it) One you start getting public aid, it's impossible to get off it. Unless you can mystically acquire a job that pays enough to pay for housing, transportation, food, utility bills, and medical care, you are forced to either: a) Not work at all, or, b) Take a part-time low paying job so do you make too much money to cut off *all* the benefits you are receiving. It seems is this country that when it comes to food stamps and public assitance it either all or nothing. Getting on them is a bad thing, because it's nigh impossible to get off them, and the quality of life really isn't that good.
@filmbuff (2909)
• United States
3 Apr 08
I think I agree with everything you said. There is no easy answer to the question of public assistance, however I do agree it can serve a very good purpose for the people who really do need it. But withever thing, there is a cost and that cost is often much more than just a monentary one.
1 person likes this
@ladyluna (7004)
• United States
3 Apr 08
You're right Filmbuff. The cost is oh-so-high, and we generally don't see it until the damage has already been done.
1 person likes this
• United States
2 Apr 08
I think any and all government ran stuff that takes taxes to pay people that need help, or that dont need help but dont want to do anything for themselves. Should be eliminated. With that being eliminated our taxes would go WAY down, in result the people that needed help could afford stuff without help, the people that didnt need help but didnt want to do anything for themselves will have to learn to take care of crap themselves. for the people that are still in the hole even with taxes way down, there would be churchs and other companys that wants to help, help those people without spending tax payers dollars. There is a lot that the government has to HELP us that in reallity just makes us pay more taxes so it doesnt really help us. I hope one day that there will be little government and more of the peoples choice (maybe we do have the peoples choice right now, i relized with all the people for Obama that there is more people out there that WANT the government to control our lives instead of taking care of our own lives)
1 person likes this
@ladyluna (7004)
• United States
2 Apr 08
Hello Libertarianfreedom21, Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. While I'm sure that you regularly get hammered for sharing libertarian ideals, let me assure you that I will NOT excoriate anyone for realizing the truth about big government versus small government. Ideally, IF our forefathers hadn't abandoned the principles of a limited federal government, we wouldn't be having this discussion. However, and yes -- that's a very big however: our forefathers DID give way to the sometimes need, sometimes temptation to embrace federal expansionism. And, where we today find ourselves being courted by two presidential candidates who each represent enormous, sweeping expansion of the federal government. Having said that, let me further add that radical shifts are rarely wise in the realm of governance. So, where I am happy to admit that you're right, on an ideological level, our reality is what it is. And, wishing that Abraham Lincoln hadn't helped to expand the federal gov't, or that FDR hadn't enacted the single, and repeated, largest expansions of federal power in the history of our nation, doesn't solve the problems at hand. So, I'm going to offer you a great big "thanks" for sharing the value of the libertarian message. It is appreciated! Though, to volley the discussion back to you: From a pragmatic standpoint, how do we affect the positive change in 'the system' that this discussion clearly indicates is necessary?
1 person likes this
• United States
2 Apr 08
My fiance and i came up with a plan so that everyone will be happy, welfare people, and people that dont like paying taxes to those welfare people. We said that there should be little towns or whatnot made just for people living off the government, and these people will have to work for US the Taxpayers, for we are the ones that pay there salery, so yes they can get the money to survive from the government but they have to give back for what they take, instead of it being freebes. Not everyone deserves food stamps, and not everyone needs food stamps, so we dont need this law, but as you said reallity is that this is the way it is so what do we do about it. We keep in politics and try our best to make our ideas of how America should be ruled come to reality
1 person likes this
@drannhh (15235)
• United States
2 Apr 08
As you know, I usually try to stay out of political discussions, but I just wanted to tell you that once we got some food stamps sent to us by mistake. We were young and poor college students but I never applied for any assistance and was quite bewildered as to why they came to use, so I tried to give them back. The clerk at the local food stamp office asked me a whole lot of questions and then said, "Well, you know you are eligible to receive this assistance, so why don't you just keep them?" I told her that I didn't want them and just wanted to give them back and have them stop sending them. She said she could discontinue sending them, but that I'd have to keep the food stamps they had already mailed. I said I wanted to return them and I wanted it off my records. I was thinking at that time that sometime when we got all our college degrees we might be interested in some public service employment and I didn't think that was something I would want to have to disclose, for one thing. Well, you might be surprised at how hard it was to give those things back, even though it was entirely a mistake. But I persevered because it was not money we had requested and we wanted to make our own way in the world.
1 person likes this
@arkaf61 (10881)
• Canada
2 Apr 08
Hello Lady Luna :) I don't know much about the situation in the US, and I don't know much about food stamps so I might be including some erroneous views in here. If I do, I apologize. In my opinion any help program - including food stamps - has the potential to be abused by people in general. Unfortunately, cutting the program will not help, because it will be punishing the ones that legitimately need it. I'm not sure if I agree with add campaigns for such a thing though. Information about such programs should be available for people that might need to learn about it, but not turned into a big commercial. THat costs money that is no being put into the program itself. That said, and although I find your reasoning valid. I have experienced at least once, being in a situation where I did have a job, a car, and a house and for a limited time I would gladly accept the help of food stamps, because due to an emergency I had no way to actually buy the food I needed. But this is an exception to the rule and not that is legitimate and not an abuse of the system. I personally like the idea of food stamps, if they are what I think they are. I actually prefer that to being given money. That way, it is more possible to be sure that that help will be used for food an not anything else - although being realistic if a person has food stamps and wants cash, it certainly seems easy to get it - by trading them or any other means.
@cripfemme (7713)
• United States
2 Apr 08
I think food assistance is hard to scam. You get a little card that allows you to buy elligible food. You can't change it for money. I don't neccessarily need food stamps anymore as I have two freelance jobs now, and make about $650 or so per month, plus still getting around $730 in government benefits. Still, I use the $64 in benefits that I get from the government to get healthier food than I would normally afford.
1 person likes this
@ladyluna (7004)
• United States
2 Apr 08
Hello Cripfemme, My hat is off to you! You are an inspiration! I hope that I'm not 'out of line' in pointing out (to those who may not know) that you are physically disabled. Yet, you've put your skills and talents to use to improve your life circumstances. For this you are to be commended. I would suggest that your application of that food stamps allowance is being used precisely as it should be. As for the program being difficult to scam: well, this discussion points out quite a few examples of precisely that. I would hazard the guess that you perceive it as hard to scam because it's probably not in your nature to seek out or devise a method to scam. And, if my assertion is correct -- then I sincerely thank you!
@sanell (2113)
• United States
2 Apr 08
Hmm, It is really tough in certain states where food stamps are truly a need. The Federal government puts it standards based on ONE state, but ALL states have Different income rates and cost of living is different in certain states. Where in Arkansas cost of living is about 50% less than that in California and maybe 40% less than living in Washington State. I live in Washington State. THe cost of living is INCREDIBLY high and unfortunately, the average family of 4 makes about $35,000.00 take home pay, if both parents are working it can be up to around $42,000.00 and that is the high end. The cost of living in Washington State the incomes should be at $75,000.00. It is sad but true. Although america is great, we are all paying into the system of Food Stamps, I have an MBA - A Masters Degree, albeit I am trying very hard to not have my children in daycare, but we are now so desperate for making sure my kids have food on the table that we have had to go to the system to get a helping hand. My husband and I have paid into it so it is not as bad but still it is unfortunate. I was AMAZED at what the cutoffs are at to be eligible for benefits it is ABSURD, they would be better off paying to the corporations to pay a higher salary to all the people that work for their pay.....
1 person likes this
@ladyluna (7004)
• United States
2 Apr 08
Hello Sanell, You make a terrific point about the variances of living costs around the nation. Where Washington State is very high, indeed. About a dozen or so years ago, my sister and her family wanted a better quality of life. So, they relocated to Washinton State. It wasn't long before they realized that that better quality of life probably would not be realized in that part of the country. For example: At that time, the cost of electricity was 30% higher than most of the rest of the country. So, they set their sites on relocating to another area, where the cost of living was much lower. Granted, the cost of relocating twice was a terrible blow to their savings, yet they determined that it was a better choice than resigning themselves to a long-term struggle to make ends meet. While their choice may not be feasible for all, I would suggest that it is a viable option for many who simply cannot make it in an area with such a high cost of living. As for your position, where I cannot speak to the specifics of your life, nor is it my place to, I am surprised that with an MBA that you are not able to put that advanced degree to use in a part-time or telecommute capacity. I work in an industry that is comprised primarily of consultants who work as independent contractors. The ingenuity of some of my regular clients (to keep themselves employed) is truly remarkable! Specifically, I have two who like myself live in the boondocks. Yet, they consult with other businesses on a part-time basis, and make a respectable living. I have a sister-in-law who puts her MBA to excellent use in a telecommute capacity for an insurance actuarial department. She only goes 'on-site' once or twice per month. As well, I have a neighbor with a Bachelors in Business who is a medical transcriptionist. She & her husband have two young children, who they do not desire to put into daycare. So, the transcription work is an excellent option for them. She too, is an independent contractor. Though, once the kids are in school, she will be positioned to go back to work at a brick & mortar. She has already recieved offers from certain of her current clients, to manage their medical practices. Though, the kids are still too young at this point. I only point out these examples as a way of sharing the existence of available options to you, as well as others who may feel trapped. Is it easy to create these custom options? No, it isn't. Though, it is entirely possible!
@cream97 (29163)
• United States
2 Apr 08
Well as far as I know you can receive Food Stamps just as long as you qualify.
@ladyluna (7004)
• United States
2 Apr 08
Hello Cream97 Welcome to MyLot. I hope that you thoroughly enjoy your time here.