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

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  • jpc53 Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 9, 2013 6:34 p.m.

    To all of you that want to limit the kinds of food that can be purchased with food stamps, it can be done. The WIC program gives you vouchers that state the specific items and quantities you can purchase. The problem you are going to run up against is all the lobbyists for the food and non-alcoholic beverage industries. I'm all for changes to the program that modify what can and can't be purchased, but not in support of a reduction in the food stamp benefit.
    To Luv2fly - college students are not eligible for food stamps. So how did you get around that obstacle? Also what are you doing have two kids while still in school? Why couldn't you wait.
    R2D2 - you are either a great coupon clipper or really don't have an idea how much you spend on food. $700/month for a family of 6 works out to $23.33/day or $7.78/meal or $1.30/meal/person. What are you feeding your kids? At that price it can't be very nutritious.

  • IndependentlyIndependent South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 9, 2013 12:49 p.m.

    Living in a state as red as Utah, I'm not surprised by the comments. But I like to think that it's possible to be a republican without being heartless and narrow-minded.

    Try being a single mother raising four kids. It's not so easy to just "Get a job, then get another job, then get another job." It's not fair to demand that of someone. And much of the reason that people buy junk food on food stamps is the same reason they would buy it otherwise. They're not trying to abuse a system meant to keep families from going hungry, they're simply trying to get more bang for their buck. Junk is cheaper.

    There is more that goes on in someone's life than can be judged from the line at the grocery store. Let's fix the system, not judge the people that use it. Let's make food stamps more restrictive to more nutritious foods. Let's subsidize something more nutritious than corn in this country. And let's look at all issues of this problem before we go on angry tirades about people trying to catch a free ride.

  • DonP Sainte Genevieve, MO
    Aug. 8, 2013 7:29 a.m.

    As a former food stamp recipient I certainly sympathize with those who must use them to feed their families. But there needs to be more control over their use. Create a food stamp program like WIC (Women, Infants and Children)program which allows only the purchase of specific items which are listed(much like the Bishop's Order for food from the Bishop's Storehouse). That would require the purchase of wholesome foods and fewer snack items.

  • The Judge Kaysville, UT
    Aug. 8, 2013 12:54 a.m.

    Hey Truth,
    Check your data. 2011 data is available. Here it is, courtesy of "Characteristics of SNAP program households in FY 2011" shows 54 percent--not 3/4s--consist of elderly, children, or disabled. There were 44.7 million people on food stamps in 2011. The number as of April 2013 stands at 47,548,694. In 2010, Reuters reported, "The Agriculture Department said 39.68 million people, or 1 in 8 Americans, were enrolled for food stamps..." My favorite part of the 2011 report is when the Food and Nutrition service of the USDA says "the program has a powerful anti-poverty effect." Right. That's why even as food stamp use has skyrocketed the poverty rate has done the same. You can read the report on the FNS web site. Have some tissues handy. It'll make you cry.

  • Schwa South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 7, 2013 4:27 p.m.

    The comments in here are decidedly un-Christ-like.

  • Utah Businessman Sandy, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 9:56 p.m.

    My problem is not with the people on food stamps. It is with our "brilliant" politicians and bureaucrats who think that they have the right to pass laws that enable them to legally steal from one person to give to another, and also use 75% of that legally stolen money to pay the politicians, the bureaucrats and the "paper-shufflers" who administer the programs. If I personally give my needy friend $100, it costs me $100 (pretty much the same if I give it to him through my favorite charity). If that friend gets $100 through a federal government program, I have to pay about $400 in taxes. Well did Neal A. Maxwell say, "The living of one principle of the gospel is better than a THOUSAND (emphasis mine) government programs, which programs are, so often, like straightening deck chairs on the Titanic." ("Why Not Now?" Ensign, Nov 1974, p.12)
    Many of you know whose idea it was to force us to be "charitable." That is not a Christian ideal. Giving willingly is.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Aug. 6, 2013 8:27 p.m.

    People don't see our economical devastation. It's being masked by food stamps, and other benefits.

    The plug will be pulled, and benefits, food stamps, bank accounts, and employment will be gone. Massive riots?

    Seventeen trillion in debt, and rising. It's not if, but when.

    Aug. 6, 2013 7:09 p.m.

    I honestly have no issue with this. I have known and had many friends on food stamps, and their grocery budget was DOUBLE what mine was, to feed the same size family.

    Yes it's going to be harder, but not any harder than what the rest of the state deals with. It will require that you cook from scratch, and probably won't be able to buy tri-tip and steak - you'll have change to cube steak and ground beef. No more pre-cooked meals, and maybe oatmeal instead of fruit loops because it goes further, but I promise you, you can feed a family well for half of what FS provides.

  • RN4moms Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 6:52 p.m.

    I also want to help those who are in need but I have seen the amount given in food stamps and it is more generous than any budget I have ever had would allow. I spent my life pinching pennies, clipping coupons, making casseroles and shopping the ads; never buying anything that wasn't on sale. I have seen up close and personal families who are able to eat much, much better than I could on food stamps. I think the amounts could be reduced considerably and classes offered to teach budgeting, cooking and planning so they come off the relief with skills to serve them even in a less-than-ideal job situation. Reducing the amount wouldn't take food off the table but would encourage self-reliance and thrift.

  • uwishtoo MESA, AZ
    Aug. 6, 2013 4:05 p.m.

    When I tried to get food stamps for the first time in my life because I had no other choice, and after paying into this system for 30 years I found out that I qualified for a whopping 12 dollars. And that would have entailed me going and standing in line for nearly 8 hours so I said forget it and I did without. I ate soup and crackers literally for nearly 4 months. IF I had gotten the food stamps I am sure one of you narrow minded people would have looked down their noses at me as if I were trash too without ever stopping to think that I had worked for years and was merely getting a small portion of what I had paid in for.

    Judge no lest ye be judged. (In other words shut up if you don't know all the facts)

  • uwishtoo MESA, AZ
    Aug. 6, 2013 4:05 p.m.

    I really hate when people say "get a job" like it's so easy. I was laid off at the age of 52, three college degrees and 30 years of experience. I literally couldn't get hired by McDonald's. I ran out of money, food, lost my home and car and my life savings. do you people really think those of us who lost everything did so because we wanted to or weren't trying?? I sent out or filled out an average of 200 job postings a week. In six months I never even got an interview or a phone call. So please keep your "get a job" garbage to yourself.

    I was lucky when I got a high paying temporary job working for the Census in 2010 and saved enough money to be able to start my own business.

    3 years later I am making more money than I ever did in the corporate world, no commute, no watching the clock, no one watching ME watch the clock and work when I want to.

  • joseywales Park City, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 3:38 p.m.

    Serenity asks, "where is the shame"? well, certain elected officials have taken the shame out of it. They use the word Entitlement. I guess some of us feel differently. I too used the program, but ASAP, we got off of it. Our case worker was actually surprised when I told her we no longer needed the card. Instead of being happy, she was actually put off a little. Not sure why.

    As a teaching tool for my younger kids, we put together a whole bunch of food and donated to the food bank the last few years. I wanted them to learn that it was a blessing that we could have the help, not an entitlement, and that we wanted to give back as soon as we could do so. I'm hoping we can do this every year from now on.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Aug. 6, 2013 3:37 p.m.

    If food stamps were bait. What kind of trap are we walking into? Or, is there a trap?

  • Downtime Saint George, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 3:11 p.m.

    I ate better on food stamps than at any other time in my life. My food stamps were double what I spend on food. We had steak every night; the best sliced deli meats; and delicious fruits and vegetables. I argued that it was too much and our case worker said that is what we get. Other than for personal pride, there was really no reason to get a job.

  • Serenity Manti, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 3:08 p.m.

    I believe in lending a helping hand with food stamps when there is a real need, but, good grief, some of these people make it a career to live off food stamps for generations. What ever happened to the stigma of living off freebies? Where is the shame? People are thinking that the Government owes them a living and they don't have to do anything except accept the doles. How disgusting. I also don't understand why the polygamists around the St George area get so many food stamps. These people have children who are not legal, in the name of religion, then they have the unmitigated gall to collect food stamps from the state which they despise and want to disregard both the state and its laws as "unclean". Yet they have no problem of taking millions of dollars in food stamps which are paid for by the people they consider as damned. Utah has no problem with that and just keeps doling out food stamps to these people and our taxes just keep going higher and higher. Take away some of their food stamps - please, please do.

  • IDC Boise, ID
    Aug. 6, 2013 2:25 p.m.

    Some need food stamps but there is far too much abuse. No more fast food using food stamp money. No more seafood, steak, sushi, junk food. Ground beef, wheat bread, and vegetables should be the staples. No taco bell, mtn dew, and oreos.

  • GACougar Atlanta, GA
    Aug. 6, 2013 1:26 p.m.

    "Getting on food stamps needs to be harder than getting a job."

    Who would have ever thought that such wisdom could emanate from the mouth of Chris B? Any more comments like that and I just might have to start liking him a little bit. :-)

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 1:13 p.m.

    Re Chris B

    Bravo Bravo !!

    But you left out the part how we need to decrease the surplus population.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Aug. 6, 2013 1:08 p.m.

    If we are really concerned about fraud in govt. programs the first place we should look is Defense.

    GAO reported serious accounting problems at two of the largest government agencies: the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security. The Department of Defense has a net cost of $799.1 billion to the federal budget, while the Department of Homeland Security has a net cost of $48.7 billion. (2013)

    The DOD cannot account for how it spent $2.6 billion that belonged to the Iraqi government, according to the inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.

    (Yet, we are fuming over the purchase of sushi)

    re:Food Stamp fraud:
    "USDA has permanently disqualified thousands of retail stores from the program for not following federal requirements. In fiscal year 2012, USDA’s retailer fraud investigations resulted in 342 convictions and $57.7 million in recoveries. When cases of SNAP fraud are reported in the news, it is because the offenders have been caught, evidence that states and USDA are aggressively combating fraud.
    (CBPP 2013)

  • Lightbearer Brigham City, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 12:13 p.m.

    I am left speechless by such sentiments as "For their own good, the poor should suffer more."

    On the evening when the multitude of 5000 surrounded Jesus, his disciples said, "Send the crowds away so that they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves." Did Jesus say, "Right. That way they'll learn the valuable lesson that they have to fend for themselves"? No. He said, "You give them something to eat." And they fed them.

    Or when he was among the crowd of 4000, did he say, "They are hungry, but they should learn the valuable lesson that they have to provide for themselves"? No. He said, "I don't want to send them away hungry since they may faint on the way." And he fed them.

    Prior to this miracle he said to the Pharisees: "Hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said, 'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me ...'"

    "Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed" - Herman Melville.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Aug. 6, 2013 11:52 a.m.

    To "Loganhistorian" the better question is how many more people could be helped for the same amount of money if the state purchased the food and the people who needed food picked up a box of food once a week.

    The benefits that the welfare system gives out are far too generous and easy to obtain. There have been times when I have been waiting to purchase items at a grocery store and have seen a person use their WIC or SNAP benefits while talking on a smartphone and telling the cashier to ring up the carton of cigaretts and case of beer separately. As others have posted already, many of the recipiants have money for vices but can't afford food. Something is wrong with that.

  • Gosh-DUH Burlington, CT
    Aug. 6, 2013 11:38 a.m.

    Does anyone know how the SNAP (food stamp) program is handled when children are also eligible for free breakfast, lunch, snacks during the school year, and meals throughout the summer? Not sure about someone who wrote about less than 1% fraud. I don’t know the specifics, but here in CT, not unusual to find widespread fraud of folks selling their SNAP benefits.

    The Seamless Summer Food Program (SSFP) combines features of National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP) and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). It reduces paperwork and administrative burden, making it easier for schools to feed children from low-income areas during the traditional summer vacation periods. In the SSFP, school districts serve meals free of charge to children ages 18 and younger from low-income areas.

    one example of fraud:
    From approximately June 2010 to July 2012, ELQUAFAI conspired with Carlos Dominguez, the owner of CJ Express and Groceries, to redeem SNAP benefits at the store at a significantly discounted rate in exchange for cash and cigarettes. Since February 2010, it is estimated that $820,000 in illegal SNAP benefits were redeemed at the store.

  • joseywales Park City, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 11:23 a.m.

    When the economy tanked a few years ago, we sold what we could but still found ourselves short. We used this program for about 6 months. I think we received about 400 per month. We bought necessities and items that would stretch. At the Winco we went to there are many families using the cards and I noticed most of them bought snack cakes, ice cream, soda, boxed foods, sugary cereals and many items with no nutritional value. Then after checking out, they put their purchases into a shiny new Escalade with shiny rims. We had sold newer cars to buy older ones without payment, turned down the heat, turned off directv, wore old clothes and felt horrible about using the SNAP card, but some people just think it's their right to have the card and don't care about who is paying for it! I believe in "Workfare" not Welfare. I think almost everyone should have to work either at a government office cleaning or picking up trash on the highways, just a few hours of labor a week to keep on the card. Also, if you can afford an Escalade, no card!

  • staypuffinpc Provo, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 11:21 a.m.

    @bullet56, I'm sorry you are down and out and hope that you're able to get back on your feet. I'm not sure where you live, but in most places I've lived (including in Utah County now), fresh fruits can be had for fairly cheap prices, if you know where to shop, and are much more affordable than the alternative. In Utah county you find Lo-Lo's in Provo, Winco or the Sunflower market in Orem, Reams in Springville, and I'm unfamiliar with what there is further south, but being closer to the orchards, I bet you can get some great food down there.

    My family survived through 8 years of university by learning to eat fresh food and it's so much cheaper than pre-processed food. Learning to prepare your food from scratch is one of the best ways to eat both economically and healthily.

  • Sego Lilly Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 11:21 a.m.

    there are a number of apartments that have on site managers - and in many cases they live rent and utility free with a paycheck in for living there should an emergency come up. Some have spouses/significant other and a kid or two. They pay cable and phone. When the hubby/significant other loses their job this family qualifies for over $500 a month in food stamps which is WRONG. I have seen this happen. As long a person is living rent free and has a income coming (meaning big enough to pay for their cell phones and make car payments they do not need food stamps. Especially when a disabled/senior pays rent and utilities but only gets $10 a month in food stamps.

  • staypuffinpc Provo, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 11:14 a.m.

    Many who decry the abuse of foodstamps are accused of being cold-hearted to the plight of others. People like to take sides and name-call. If we wouldn't look at the other side as diametrically different, we might be able to realize that both sides can be right. Food stamp programs grant monies for food in excess. I've seen it, witnessed it, and lived it. If we were to cut food allowances in half, we could actually help MORE people. First, the money would be just enough to get by, so as to encourage people to not remain on food stamps forever; Second, with allowances cut in half, twice as many people could receive aid without increasing spending.

    This is BYU's approach to tuition scholarships. Instead of granting full-tuition scholarships, the great majority are half-tuition, so that more students can receive help and so that students are encouraged to work hard while studying.

  • Loganhistorian Hyrum, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 11:05 a.m.

    What's wrong with these people now having to start clipping out coupons like many have to do to stretch? Also, there should be no pop, candy, chips or junk food that one can buy with it.(How much would that save the taxpayers so these people could just buy the necessary staples?) Don't have a problem with people getting fed. I do have a problem with them not appreciating the others who make it possible.

  • Cougsndawgs West Point , UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 10:43 a.m.

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

    Did Christ ask his fishermen disciples to cast their nets in a certain place, or to come to shore so he could give them all the fish they needed? He could have done either, but there was a lesson that needed to be learned. Part of being a Christian is learning to have faith and trust in God, and then "go forward with faith". Christian teachings abound with ideas of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. I have been on welfare before, but while I was looking, praying, networking, and training for gainful employment so I could be self-sufficient. I appreciate the government welfare programs being in place when people are destitute and need them to feed their children as I did. What is frustrating for taxpayers is the lack of accountability or ideas on the governments part to get people back up and back to work, or ask them for anything in return. Repubs are asking for more accountability and less waste, neither of which is contrary to Christian values. They aren't seeking the abolishment of entitlements.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 10:39 a.m.


    "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.

  • bullet56 Olympia, WA
    Aug. 6, 2013 10:35 a.m.

    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.

  • my two cents777 ,
    Aug. 6, 2013 10:00 a.m.

    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.

  • LittleStream Carson City, NV
    Aug. 6, 2013 9:57 a.m.

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

  • What in Tucket? Provo, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 9:40 a.m.

    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.

  • Springvillepoet Springville, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 9:36 a.m.


    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?

  • Lightbearer Brigham City, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 9:33 a.m.

    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.

  • goodnight-goodluck S.L.C., UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 9:31 a.m.

    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?

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    Aug. 6, 2013 9:28 a.m.

    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.

  • BigEasySLC Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 9:16 a.m.

    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?

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Aug. 6, 2013 8:58 a.m.

    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

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

    Note: some states consider utilitiy costs, UT does not

  • farmingtonhousewife Farmington, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 8:54 a.m.

    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.

  • Albert Maslar CPA (Retired) Absecon, NJ
    Aug. 6, 2013 8:40 a.m.

    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.

  • Springvillepoet Springville, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 8:36 a.m.

    @ 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.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Aug. 6, 2013 8:30 a.m.

    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?

  • Cougsndawgs West Point , UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 8:28 a.m.

    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.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Aug. 6, 2013 8:24 a.m.

    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.

  • Say No to BO Mapleton, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 8:22 a.m.

    @ 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.

  • Pablito South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 8:20 a.m.

    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.

  • J-TX Allen, TX
    Aug. 6, 2013 8:19 a.m.

    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.....

  • New to Utah PAYSON, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 8:12 a.m.

    Scoundrel, although some of what you say is true, it doesn't consider demographics. I have worked in the social services area for nearly 15 years and yes because there are three times as many caucasions they receive the most services. Percentage wise Blacks,with children,Latinos,and other groups have much higher percentage usage. Visit Walmarts in Orem,Springville or anyplace near SLC and observe the money being given in WIC,foodstamps and other government programs. We have a 17 trillion debt and this increases it.Being acutely aware of those truly deserving, it is not the governments job to help those who can help themselves.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 8:05 a.m.

    Get a job.

    Or another job.

    And another job.

    If I didn't have money for my family I'd be walking the streets 20 hours a day securing jobs until I could provide for my family.

    I think too often people think a good paying 8 hour job should be put in their laps and if its not then other people should pay their bills.

    Getting on food stamps needs to be harder than getting a job.

    And that's not the case these days.

  • BigEasySLC Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 7:57 a.m.

    I love how my big-hearted, liberal friends above (Scoundrel, FatherOfFour) are so generous with their fellow taxpayers monies, and have Righteously Chastised me for my savage demonization of the destitute, in this case a woman who was so needy that she used food stamps to pay over $9.00 for one pint of fresh, organic salsa, but was able to scrape together the ca$h for imported beer and "natural" cigarettes that cost more than any other brand on the market....

    I've spent several years (cumulative) hanging out in some of the most socially liberal places on Earth (New Orleans, San Francisco, NYC, Amsterdam, Barcelona) and in fact I am likely the single most Liberal (capital L) person to ever hold a copy of the Deseret News, (being back in Utah is always an eye-opener, just don't forget to set your watch back 20 years), and I absolutely WANT to see my taxes go to feed the truly needy instead of buying another overpriced weapons system, but I don't like the idea of someone buying the most expensive gourmet food on the shelf when she clearly had enough $$$ to pay for her beer, smokes and yes, even tattoos.

  • RBB Sandy, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 7:46 a.m.

    The bigger problem is the overall trend of people wanting something for nothing. I have a relative who works in the public school system. She gets frustrated dealing with fee waivers and free breakfast and luch for kids only to see them hop into Mom's Escalade at the end of the day. I have no problem with helping people who really need it, but it should only cover bread, canned fruits and veggies and non-processed foods. $3 will buy 10 lbs of potatoes, or one can of high end soup. It is not my resposibility to make sure you havr all the food you like.

  • 5 Orem, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 7:13 a.m.

    Some people really do need help. But maybe it's a matter of priorities. Did the reporter dig a bit deeper and find out how many cell phones, wide screen tv's, cars, and other nice but not critical appliances are owned by the family in the story? I think not. Food is a very high profile necessity, and so it is easy to make the lack of it into a heart rending story. But maybe the real story is "Why should taxpayers pay for the race to keep up with the Jones'. The the really sad story now may be the pain of cutting back on the nice but nonessential costs because so many people have been relying on the government to feed them so they had extra money to buy and become accustomed to the extras.

    Aug. 6, 2013 7:05 a.m.

    I used food stamps while in the military, as do many of our soldiers. I always find it interesting that it is always the ones that call themselves "Christians" that want to take food away from the poor. Oh, you saw someone at the counter using food stamps to buy expensive food when she had cash on her? I saw the US government spend $21 billion dollars on seven Destroyers the Navy specifically said they didn't want. And no one blinked. Our country is not going bankrupt from caring for the poor and needy.

  • Squeaky Austin, TX
    Aug. 6, 2013 7:05 a.m.

    I can not understand why these folks are on food stamps, church benefits and state aid continue to have kids and expect the world to pay for their lack of control of having more. It is not my problem when I was young I had the number of kids I could afford and did not sleep around with 2 or 3 dozen other women and have kids with them for others to have to rear. This is a big part of the problem.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Aug. 6, 2013 6:51 a.m.

    In fiscal year 2010, the most recent year for which detailed demographic data are available, about three- quarters of households receiving SNAP (food stamps) benefits included a child, a person age 60 or older, or a disabled person.

    About 30% of recipient households reported earned income, and about 60% of households reported receiving unearned income from sources including the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, Social Security, and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Fami- lies (TANF) program.

    The average household receiving SNAP benefits in 2010 had an income of $731 per month (excluding the value of SNAP benefits), or about $8,800 per year (see Table 1). The monthly SNAP benefit per household averaged $287, or $4.30 per person per day.

  • Top5Alive salt lake city, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 6:50 a.m.

    Food Stamps are for assisting those who are in difficult times, for a short span to get on their feet. Most people who recieve this benefit take advantage of this and become comfortable and rely on it...because they don't really have to do much to get this. Find a job, budget your lives.

  • dumprake Washington, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 6:37 a.m.

    Ok, so why would any minority argue against this: the government gives me free housing, I get food stamps for free food, I get free medical care, a free education, free college, even free cell phones---losing any of these is not the issue. The issue is why would anyone give up a free life? of course they're going to argue to keep all this free stuff. But take all that free stuff and the illegals go back to Mexico, and the rest of them go to work, get creative, work hard, struggle and make it on their own, and they are far better off for it. And did I mention the government doesn't go broke trying to give an entire nation free everything?

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 6:35 a.m.

    If buying over priced food is a problem, the solution is to specify what brands can be bought. Not to cut back on food stamps for the needy.

    If we have budget problems because we have for decades gotten into ill conceived unnecessary wars, the solution is not to cut food stamps, but to .. stop getting into so many illconceived unnecessary wars.

  • Black8002 Prescott, AZ
    Aug. 6, 2013 2:40 a.m.

    Unless you know what foods that person can eat stop judging what foods, besides junk food, they are buying. There is a growing number of people who can't eat wheat spaghetti because they can't tolerate gluten. Are we going to tell them that they can't purchase rice noodles because they are 4X more expensive? Others become seriously ill when they consume MSG, or other preservatives. I have family members that if they were to eat the wrong foods they would not be able to work for the next couple of days. If they were to lose their job & have live on food stamps they might as well be on disability as they most likely would never be able to function well enough to work again if the amount was reduced even more. My family makes all of their food from scratch, because they can't tolerate processed foods, and use mostly fruits and vegetables they find on sale and still it is not cheap. But it is the only way they survive with the trials they've been handed in this life.

  • Luvs2fly Tucson, AZ
    Aug. 6, 2013 2:28 a.m.

    My husband and I were on state assistance the last couple of years of school. I'm sorry but the majority of people use this system wrongfully. I have witnessed it while waiting in the lobby where you apply. But it's not entirely their fault. The government throws it at them with every available opportunity from giving it out with deductions with medical, food, electricity bills, cell phones to rent. Why would someone work a job when they can sit at home and receive money and deductions. For our family of 3 it was 493.00 when we had baby#2 it was just under 700.00 just for food. U can buy pretty much anything u can consume -alcohol and cigs. Now my husband and I joke about it. We can pick out a food stamp cart a mile a way. We think its funny that during school we could have filet mignon every night. Now we make 6 figures and we are price matching and going without . Sounds backwards. These benefits should help people out of a tight spot for certain things and time length not use them for as long as they can.

  • Grammy3 SOUTH JORDAN, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 12:21 a.m.

    It makes me sick to think that people have and are starting to think that the only way to live is on the Government. I feel that this is what the Government wants. My husband and I are going on being seniors. Five years ago our life was shattered by the Mortgage crisis. My husband owned his own Mortgage company along with my nephew. One day we were coming back from a cruise it seemed and the next week we were told that he could no longer do loans for investors. Almost over night his business dried up. So at first we were o.k. because we were somewhat prepared for an emergency. Months turned into years. We never thought for once to turn to the Government for help. Maybe call me old fashion but we were taught to go to family and friends then to our Church for help if our friends and family could not help. I am so grateful that we did as I never never want the Government telling what to do or giving me handouts. That takes away our freedoms and so we need to all look out in what is happening here.

  • R2D2 springville, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 12:03 a.m.

    This article is quite ridiculous. Dropping $30/month in benefits will NOT take food of anyone's table. Google food stamp average amounts, and you'll find a family of 6 on average is getting $700 in food stamps. That's way, way more food money than my family of six is spending. You have to try really hard to eat that much in food, or just eat processed, expensive food all the time, which is what is likely happening (or giving food away to friends, which is also what is happening).

  • Laura Ann Layton, UT
    Aug. 5, 2013 10:16 p.m.

    Part of the problem is that many people just don't know how to cook from scratch. We had a time when I was a young girl that we received help. I can make spaghetti from tomato sauce, and other ingredients from scratch. It's healthier and a much better way to use food stamp allowances. I don't believe that junk food should be used for feeding children. If you want taffy, it is easy to make from sugar and other ingredients, so right there you have a treat. I think many of these people could really use some help learning to cook.

  • staypuffinpc Provo, UT
    Aug. 5, 2013 10:15 p.m.

    I love the idea that the government can help people get on their feet by providing assistance for the most basic of needs -- food. However, as I've known people on food stamps, I'm always flabbergasted by how much money is given. When we were in college 10 years ago, we could have easily qualified and were surprised to learn that a family of four would receive over $500 in food stamps per month! I now have a family of 6, with boys that eat like crazy and we still don't spend that much on food each month.

    The problem is that, instead of helping people to their feet, this program discourages them from getting off of it, and any sort of realistic food budget. Those who are on food stamps are unlikely to get jobs tha will allow them to spend what they can while on food stamps. I think if amounts were cut in half, people would have to budget more carefully and would be less likely to want to stay in the program forever.

  • birder Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 5, 2013 7:12 p.m.

    The solution doesn't have to be "all or nothing." Food stamps need more restrictions on what can be purchased. Run the program like the LDS Church welfare program. Offer nutritious food staples only - milk, cheese, bread, some canned goods, fruits, veggies, etc. Then have the recipients work at the food pantry or some other community service organization to earn the benefits. I see far too many EBT card users buying nothing but junk food (soda, chips, candy) and expensive deli items that I can't even afford.

  • BigEasySLC Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 5, 2013 7:04 p.m.

    ...Now I have NO PROBLEM with people who buy alcohol, (in fact I was buying a 12-pack myself, but mine was a "budget-friendly" brand), cigarettes or overpriced gourmet food when they have the money to pay for it, but it didn't make me thrilled to see tax money go to a perfectly able bodied 20-something who clearly had plenty of ca$h for beer and cigs (and plenty of tattoos, naturally)

  • BigEasySLC Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 5, 2013 6:47 p.m.

    I have no problem with helping the truly needy with aid when needed, but about a year ago I was in a local supermarket checkout line when I happened to notice the young woman in front of me's purchases. She had several high priced, vegetarian and/or organic products (some of which I quite like myself but rarely buy as they are WAY overpriced) some fresh salsa made by one of Utah's local, upscale Mexican food producers (which is also excellent, but costs around 3x the price of national brands) and she also had a 12 pack of beer, (another very expensive brand, no cheap stuff for this discriminating young lady!) and then topped off her shopping by asking the clerk for a couple of packs of the smokes that they keep behind the counter.

    She then handed the cashier a card, (it looked much like a regular credit card) and she was told that she couldn't buy the beer or cigarettes with it, at which she opened up her purse and peeled off a $50 bill without blinking, and then "payed" for the balance of her stuff with the food stamp card....