food stamps

New Farm Bill Leans on Food Stamps

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas has proposed a new farm bill that saves $38 billion over 10 years. However the bill saves money by cutting funding to food stamps. Politico reports:

But in real dollars — and as a proportion of his entire package — Lucas admits he is leaning more on food stamps. Last year the nutrition title contributed about $16.1 billion in savings, or less than half of the chairman’s mark. This year it is not just up by $4 billion, but also accounts for 53 percent of the Farm Bill savings and almost 60 percent of the new cuts — beyond those attributed to sequestration.

Read more here.

Racial Politics

It is contrary to Christian values to use attacks on welfare to win white votes.

Jim Wallis is president of Sojourners. His book, The (Un)Common Good: How the Gospel Brings Hope to a World Divided, the updated and revised paperback version of On God’s Side, is available now. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.

SNAP / Food Stamp Challenge, Day 4: Piatt FAIL

Rubber ink 'Failed' stamp, Dimitrios Kaisaris / Shutterstock.com

Rubber ink 'Failed' stamp, Dimitrios Kaisaris / Shutterstock.com

I don’t mind failing as much as I do admitting I’ve failed. And technically, we haven’t blown the SNAP Challenge just yet, but I know for a fact we will by the end of the week.

I went to the store last night for another loaf of bread and a frozen pizza for dinner, which I had promised my kids if they’d make it to mid-week without freaking out. This brought us down to eighteen bucks and change left in the till, which theoretically was going to be enough to fill in the gaps for other items we’d need to do our meals through the weekend.

And then reality hit.

SNAP / Food Stamp Challenge, Day 3: Slip-Ups

Photo: Man making a mistake illustration, JPFotografie / Shutterstock.com

Photo: Man making a mistake illustration, JPFotografie / Shutterstock.com

Maybe the serpent in the Garden of Eden story actually was a cute little girl in pigtails. Sure would have been more persuasive than some stupid talking snake.

Explaining to kids who have grown up their entire lives with such privilege is almost like trying to translate a foreign language for them. No, not everyone just goes in and grabs whatever they feel like from the fridge or the shelves. They don’t order in when they’re too tired or lazy to cook, and they don’t mark every mundane occurrence in their lives with a celebratory dinner out. It’s normal to them, but that doesn’t mean it’s normal.

SNAP / Food Stamp Challenge, Day 2: The Shelf

Photo: Clipping coupons, Jim Barber  / Shutterstock.com

Photo: Clipping coupons, Jim Barber / Shutterstock.com

I’m not making friends among my family members with this challenge.

Because it was my idea to do this for a week (living on the equivalent budget of food stamps for seven days), everyone ends up coming to me to “check on the rules.” Basically, this means they ask me about ways they might work around the limitations of the challenge, and then get mad at me when I don’t give them a way out.

Yesterday ended up being a mixed bag. My wife, Amy, and I had to go to the other side of town for some errands, and it didn’t occur to either of us that we’d be gone over lunch time. Fortunately, one of the errands was at an Ikea, a giant housewares store that’s known for it’s affordable cafeteria-style meals, so we made it work. But even with their reduced-rate prices, we spent more than $9 for both of us and little Zoe to eat.

“Man,” I said, looking at my empty bowl, previously filled with pasta and Swedish meatballs, “that was way less than we usually spend going out, but it was still almost double what we have in the budget for one meal.”

SNAP/ Food Stamp Challenge, Day 1: Broke vs. Poor

Grocery shopping budget, Picsfive / Shutterstock.com

Grocery shopping budget, Picsfive / Shutterstock.com

“So what are food stamps anyway?” my 8-year-old son, Mattias, asked as I drove him to his summer camp this morning. “Are they, like, stamps that you eat that taste like different foods?”

“Not exactly,” I said. 

My family was less than thrilled when I presented the idea of living on the equivalent of what a family of four would receive on food stamps for a week. Actually, the program is now called “SNAP,” which stands for “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” and involves government-issued vouchers or debit cards, rather than the antiquated stamp method. But the result is the same; we have a lot less to spend on food this week than usual.

“But I don’t want to be poor,” Mattias moaned as I explained the challenge to him.

“We’re not poor,” I said, “but it’s important for us to know what it’s like to struggle to feed our family.”

“Why?”

“Because,” I paused, trying to figure out a way to explain privilege and compassion to a third-grader who was quite content to have all he has, and then some, “Jesus tells us to have a heart for the poor, but how can we really do that if we don’t know anything about what it’s like to live with less?”

“Hmm,” he wrinkled his brow, “I guess we can do it for a few days.”

Resources for SNAP Food Stamp Challenge

Supermarket photo, Natalia Bratslavsky / Shutterstock.comhttp://www.shutterstock

Supermarket photo, Natalia Bratslavsky / Shutterstock.com

After putting out there that we’re going to do the SNAP Challenge August 20-26th (living on the budgeted equivalent of food stamps for a week for meals), some folks came forward with some really helpful resources. Even if you’re not on public assistance and not planning to take part in the challenge, these are useful tools to help anyone on a budget plan for some good, nutritious meals.

Here’s a video clip on meal prep with only food bought on the food stamp budget, along with the list of groceries the chef bought on the budget: Mario’s Food Stamp Challenge Grocery List

Here are dozens of recipes from Harvesters Food Network you can do on a food-stamp-equivalent budget, complete with nutrition information for each meal: Harvesters Food Network SNAP Recipes

Planning for Poverty: The SNAP Challenge

photo   © 2009   Clementine Gallot , Flickr / Wylio.com

photo © 2009 Clementine Gallot , Flickr / Wylio.com

I’ve said before that privilege often is invisible until you don’t have it. So in that light, I’m doing a little experiment in a few days with our family, and I encourage you to join in.

A lot of us never know what it’s like to try and live below the poverty line, and I tend to think the statements we hear about the poor that lack sensitivity for their situation point to this. It’s easy to say things like, “people on public assistance are lazy” (in fact, 47 percent of SNAP recipients are under 18; a majority of the remaining recipients have other income from work, and this doesn’t account for seniors and those who are disabled) and that food stamps are a “free ride” that are so attractive, it keeps people from wanting to work and get off of the assistance.

So let’s find out just how easy it is.

“SNAP” stands for “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” which is the new name for food stamps. Basically, families receive $4 a day per family member to cover food costs, so the SNAP challenge is pretty simple (in theory, at least): Live on the same amount with your family for a week.

Lawmakers Highlight Tragedy of Food Assistance Cuts

In an op-ed for Politico, two Representatives highlight the recent cuts to food assistance programs, and the damaging effects they will have on the state of the nation: 

The House gutted $16.5 billion from food stamps — our nation’s most important anti-hunger program, which gives low-income families modest aid during tough times. These cuts mean up to three million low-income Americans – largely families with children – can’t buy food.

These cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program also eliminate free school meals for 280,000 children. School breakfast or lunch is too often the only complete meal a child can eat all day. We expect our students to compete in a global economy. We expect them to come to school ready to learn — but we conveniently ignore the facts.

Poor nutrition negatively affects students’ academic achievement. Children who are hungry often miss more days at school and, when they do attend, they may have more trouble concentrating. They often have lower test scores.

Right now, 46 million Americans live in poverty, and more than 32 million adults and 16 million children live in food-insecure households. These families struggle every day to make ends meet — particularly as food prices continue to rise. As more and more families are getting by on less and less, food stamps help make groceries more affordable, so parents have more money to pay the rent, gas up their car and meet their children’s other basic needs. Food stamps kept 4 million Americans over the poverty line in 2010, including 2 million children, and lifted another 1.3 million kids above 50 percent of the poverty line. More than any other benefit program.

Read the full article here

 

Pages

Subscribe