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Comments about ‘Reducing food-stamp benefits would 'take food off the table,' recipients and advocates say’

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Published: Monday, Aug. 5 2013 6:05 p.m. MDT

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J-TX
Allen, TX

Scoundrel said:
"A majority of food stamp beneficiaries:
- are caucasian"

Well, your credibility just went out the window. Maybe in Utah, where 91.9% are white. But overall, more than twice as many blacks use food stamps as whites. More Latinos than whites and more non-Latino non-whites than whites.

Do a quick Google search of "food stamp demographics"

"The rate of fraud in the SNAP program is less than one percent."

Well, since the food stamp program has doubled in size under Obama, fraud went from $330M per year to over $750M per year. Almost $1B in fraud.

The fraud they can't track is where, in a 2-parent home, only the one not working or working part time applies and discloses their income. Estimated to be 16% of recipients. That's why we have all seen food stamps pay for luxury foods and $50 bills pay for beer, wine and cigs in the same transaction.

How about as a condition of getting food stamps, a person is given a 4X12 plot in a community garden and required to grow vegetables for the local food bank? DO SOMETHING besides sit on your backside.....

Pablito
South Jordan, UT

This hit my mind while reading these comments. I think the government wants everyone on an equal level. By giving a family of 6 a monthly food budget of $700 (according to some posts here) is so they can cry poverty yet eat like those that worked hard to make enough money to feed themselves gourmet food.
I dated a person 4 years ago who had a 6 y/o and 4 y/o, her parents covered her utilities and bought her a house and she still got $650/m in food stamps. She bought her kids whatever they wanted and most of it was not healthy choices. She bought high end expensive foods too.
Maybe the government should show they care for the tax payer and give food stamp recipients the average food budget the average person not on food stamps spends.
In our house, it's me, my wife and two teenage boys. We spend less than $400/m on food. Most months are less than $300! Bargain shopping and making meals at home helps.

Say No to BO
Mapleton, UT

@ Scoundrel
Reporter Cortez needs to give us some data. Anecdotes abound about the person in the check-out line. Scoundrel above, posts a very different picture of the typical food stamp recipient. It is about as valid as the check-out line comments.
So, who is receiving food assistance? For how long?
And I'm not just interested in Utah. We are considering immigration reform. How many immigrants use food stamps. What happened to the idea that they are not allowed to enter if they might become a public charge. How's that working out in America?
It is a huge task getting to the truth since welfare office workers aren't likely to tell the story straight. Everybody's got an angle these days.

worf
Mcallen, TX

Food stamps was for helping people get on their feet, and caring for the handicap. Not making a career of it.

If seventeen trillion dollars weren't taken out of circulation to feed our national debt,-our need for food stamps wouldn't be so profound.

At least our congress qualifies for a five week vacation, IRS for lavish conferences, and our president for his third vacation in two months.

Cougsndawgs
West Point , UT

When the recession first hit, I lost my job and my wife was a stay-at-home mother. Fortunately, despite my pride and initial objection, we had resources and help from our church. I had a good church leader who gave me some sound and profound council. He asked if I gave and served others when I was doing well financially. I said yes. He said, then let us help you until you can start helping and giving again. My family utilized state and church resources, but with the church we were required to help, be looking for work and utilizing the employment networks and resources of the church. I learned first-hand how little accountability and restraint there is in government entitlement programs. I was grateful the resource was available when my family needed it, but far too often I saw abuse and misuse of the resources. There's nothing wrong with our government wanting to help the needy, but when there's no accountability or motivation to better your situation, how helpful is it really? It becomes an agent of gutony rather than an agent of charity and empowerment.

Truthseeker
SLO, CA

Re:5 and others...

Should people who owned big screen tvs, cell phones, cars but then fell on hard times be forced to sell them on Craig's List in order to qualify for food stamps?

I know a 40 yo woman with advanced Multiple Sclerosis who currently doesn't qualify for foodstamps because she is over the income limit. Her only source of income is disability, approx. $990/mon. She doesn't own a big screen tv, has a basic cell phone (a necessity for summoning help if she falls etc) She did qualify for food stamps when her young daughter was living with her, but now that her daughter is living with grandma, she is ineligible. Every day is a struggle. She must rely on people to drive her places, cook, clean, bathe etc.

Many times I've been in line behind someone using food stamps. I just don't see the "abuse" of the system you've seen--no one buying sushi, filet mignon, alcohol or cigarettes. Sure, no doubt there are those who abuse the system, but do they represent a small minority or the majority?

Springvillepoet
Springville, UT

@ Chris B:

Have you ever been truly desperate? Have you ever been in a position where you needed help but didn't belong to the "right organization" to receive private help?

Yes, you say you would be on the streets 20 hours day. Exaggeration aside, if you were in such dire straits you would most likely seek assistance while you were looking for work. Why? Because you have a responsibility to your family.

When I took assistance from the State, I was working a full time, half-pay internship instead of doing 10 weeks of student teaching. I took the assistance because I, like most welfare recipients had work, but work was not enough to support my family.

You suffer from the good fortune of never having learned what poverty really looks/feels like. Neither have I, really. I was lucky to end my internship and find a full time teaching job with about $65 left to our name. In the mean time, welfare and assistance helped slow the downward fall until I was able to find that good paying job.

Albert Maslar CPA (Retired)
Absecon, NJ

Studies show that Americans, including food stamp recipients waste 40% of their food. The food stamp program is not meant to enable purchasing of the best and most expensive of foods. If people are not working, they should at least shop smart, buy store brands, use coupons, buy sale items, not buy junk food, candy, soda, and juice cocktails that usually contain 5 to 20% juice only. Educated consumers,on food stamps or not, can stretch their food budgets considerably by buying only what they need, and not purchase excess that tends to be wasted. "Waste not, want not" is a valuable life axiom that is too often ignored. Combine trips to cut down on transportation costs, turn off lights in rooms not in use, and watch the thermostat, not making the house too hot or too cold, and pay cash only, avoiding credit card interest that is generally about 25%. The bottom line: God helps those who help themselves.

farmingtonhousewife
Farmington, UT

The requirements for obtaining food stamps should be reviewed and re-written. Many households are men and women (not married) both are getting government aid and food stamps. Many live on just the government and state. Makes person(s) lazy - do not want to work because they can obtain it easily.
It costs us (the taxpayers) a lot of money.

Truthseeker
SLO, CA

I just used the SNAP pre-screening tool, using the following hypothetical family:
2 parent household, age 40 yrs.
3 kids:ages 12-9
Monthly income: $2000
Rent:$600
State:Utah

Result:
Estimated monthly food stamp allotment/mon.: $364-$374

Note: some states consider utilitiy costs, UT does not

BigEasySLC
Salt Lake City, UT

Truthseeker, I have to think that the vast majority of those reading my words have NO PROBLEM with the hypothetical family you created above getting $374 in food assistance per month (personally, it wouldn't bother me if they got $600 per month, especially considering the other garbage the government wastes my tax dollars on) but most people, myself included, don't like the idea of that $$$ being used to purchase high-end, gourmet, boutique products (usually at around 3x the price of regular name-brands) or fancy imported foodstuffs when most of the rest of us are only able to buy such items sparingly, on a special occasion or a little splurge, because we have to watch our expenses.

I WANT the government to help it's most needy, I AM GLAD my taxes help the less fortunate, but why should they be allowed to use their (supposedly needed) aid for exotic, overpriced foods that I can only afford to treat myself to once in awhile?

Does this make any sense to you?

ulvegaard
Medical Lake, Washington

We could easily qualify for food stamps, but I just don't feel good about doing that. Yes, over the years we have received WIC, which expires when children turn 5. We live on a small farm and have chickens, and so, even when we were on WIC, we didn't get our allotment of eggs because we didn't need them. We used the WIC to fill in the holes of our budget.

When discussing food stamps, I thought, sure, wouldn't it be nice. But what happens when the money dries up and we've become accustomed to it? We don't live like kings, we don't buy the higher priced brands, my wife bakes bread, even makes noodles from scratch, we gleen from potato fields (with permission) as well as orchards. We never go hungry. Our cell phones are old, but they work (without internet access - they're just phones). Our TV is ten years old, but it does the job. Our cars are used and paid for. So is our one bathroom house. With creativity we get along just fine.

goodnight-goodluck
S.L.C., UT

Plenty of money to make war, more than plenty enough money to give handouts to big, oil, big pharma, big agriculture. but no money to feed the people. Is this a great country or what?

Lightbearer
Brigham City, UT

So the rich are hurting, and the poor have it much too good?

After reading some of the comments on this and other stories in this paper about food stamps, etc., I wonder if there's anywhere else in the world where people are so jealous of the poor that they keep an eagle eye out for what's in their shopping carts and then grind their teeth with envy. You'd think the poor were all living it up on champagne and caviar, while those who are better off have to subsist on gruel.

The system might be abused by some, but it's better that some abuse it, than to have those who really need it go hungry because there is no system at all.

I suppose this is the sermon some people would preach:

Never need help. If you do need help, never accept it. If you do accept help, you should feel ashamed for being a parasite. Fortunately, there's something simple that even the oldest, sickest, and weakest can do:

1. Get ahold of some bootstraps.

2. Pull yourself up by them.

Springvillepoet
Springville, UT

BigEasy:

I always hear about welfare recipients splurging, but I have never seen it. I am not making a claim, just stating my own lack of experience in this matter.

I will say this: I have seen this discussion play out and the point someone made was:

'Why can't a parent receiving food stamps splurge? Do you know that parent's circumstance? What if it's birthday dinner for their child? What if they have done really well by being thrifty throughout the month, and at the end of the month, they have a little extra? Why is it wrong for people who are down and out to try and lift their spirits by making a nice meal?'

Now I have witnessed welfare fraud, and I do know how to turn food stamps into cigarettes if I really wanted to, but fraud is not nearly as prevalent as some people think.

Finally, I keep coming back to the "promote general welfare" clause of The Constitution. We seem to spend billions of dollars on decade long wars without even flinching, but when someone on welfare buys a pack of nice steaks, we freak out. Why is that?

What in Tucket?
Provo, UT

If people are going to be on welfare for long periods they should be required to get 50 lb bags of beans, whole wheat flour, etc. We can't afford luxury items.

LittleStream
Carson City, NV

If congress does this, I don't want to hear from hypocritical Republicans about how Christian they are.

my two cents777
,

This has to be the most abused program ever. I think strict guidelines should be used in granting the free rides to people who use it. No processed food should be allowed. Basic foods, only. Time donated to society for feeding their families should be a MUST. If they fail to do so; they lose their benefits. Not a citizen? Tough luck. Go find a job or go back to your country of origin. These people are breaking the backs of the middle class tax payers. And, everyone should be drug tested. If they are dirty- guess what? No benefits. They should also be billed for their benefits once they get jobs- even if it is a dollar a week. We've raised a generation of beggars and it needs to stop now. Benefits only to those who truly need them.

bullet56
Olympia, WA

We have all seen someone in the check out line buying things with government benefits and wonder about the choices the consumer is making. In my case I was self employed until the recession of 07 started. I used up my savings trying to start a new venture that failed. I have paid my taxes over the years like all of you. Now I am suffering stage 4 liver disease, living on 710.00 a month of SSI, at age 57. I never married, have no family, savings, car, or other debt. I receive 156.00 a month for food. It amounts to eating on a budget of just $5.20 a day. Some days I can't eat and when I do, I need the fresh foods that cost way too much. I do not use the food bank due to transportation costs. You might see an occasional cake in my cart if I am going to the birthday party of a child. I might even take the makings for a sundae or root beer floats. If you don't need food benefits, you have been blessed, as I once was. Be kind when you are in line.

Chris B
Salt Lake City, UT

Springvillepoet,

"Why is it wrong for people who are down and out to try and lift their spirits by making a nice meal"

No one said there is anything wrong with what you say.

We're saying its wrong for anyone to take from taxpayers more than the BARE essentials.

Any sort of "splurging" is by definition not necessary.

And its wrong to take others people money and then "splurge"

If its not absolutely mandatory - you shouldn't be stealing it from the taxpayers.

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