I have mentioned previously that I have become more actively involved with the community outreach programs that my church involves itself in. This being one of the reasons that I drive almost 20 miles to go to church. I have not been able to find another house of worship that I love as much as this one, so I just take the drive on Sunday's. To me it is worth it. The downside has been that I used that as an excuse for not being more involved in the projects. I have been determined to change that this year. Last week I went to government office that helps people with food stamp applications with one family. It was quite an experience.
Our church can only do so much to help with food to the people in need, because at the moment that need is so high. We have to find ways to stretch the food that we have available and to limit what we give out much more than we have in the past. Now, our church is not in the habit of telling people to apply for government programs; quite the opposite really. We try to help as many as we can with what we have available. For some families it is not enough and in order to get food for their kids they make the decision to apply for government aid. Another thing that we see quite often is that we have much greater need at the end of the month than at the beginning due to the fact that people who are receiving food stamps have simply run out of money before the month ends.
One of the things that makes me crazy is hyberole that isn't rooted in the facts. I see over and over again the accusations coming from the right that people who are on food benefits eat better than they do. This, for the most part, is a fallacy. The average amount that a single person recieves in this country is $98. That is $3.26 per day for food - another words $1.08 per meal. That doesn't even cover a can of soup. The average amount a family of four receives is $668 per month. That works out to $1.85 per meal per day. Most of us have been grocery shopping of late. You see for yourself how expensive food is becoming. A gallon of milk is almost $4 at my local Giant. A loaf of bread is about $3.
We have to deal with the fraud and the abuse that happens in the snap benefits programs across the country. We are spending millions that we should not be spending. But not everyone on this program is abusing it. Some really need it at the moment. Times are very tough for many around the country. They are barely scraping by. Some of these people don't realize that there are church programs out there to help them. Others can't get what they need simply through their churches and local charities that try and help as many as they can. During economic downturns the ability for the groups to collect the food and cash they need to help the needy diminishes.
One of the things that the conservative movement must do in this country is educate people on how conservative governments will actually benefit them in the long run. By making statements that these people eat like kings is not helping in that effort. At $1.85 per meal I hardly think they are eating filet mignon on a nightly basis. Chances are they are forgoing fresh vegetables altogether and eating lower amounts of protein then they should be.
The snap program should not be a way of life for people. It should only be a safety net for those needing a helping hand. Most people have needed a helping hand from time to time. We must cut the abuse out of the program so that money actually goes to the people who do need it while they are out of work or underemployed. We shouldn't be giving to college students so they have more money to party with.
I have said many times before language matters. When we talk about how people who are eating better than we do because of food stamps then we eat ourselves, we only make ourselves look silly. The numbers simply don't bear that out.
Household Size Maximum Food Stamp Allotment
Each Additional Member +150
Household Size Maximum Net Monthly Income Limit
Each Additional Member +312
These numbers are for people with no income at all. Since most people have some sort of income, these amounts will fall based on that income. If you receive social security, your benefits will fall. If you are collecting disability, your benefits will fall. If you are receiving aid from other organizations such as WIC your benefits will fall (and may disqualify you). You try feeding your family on $5 per day and see how it easy it is.
We need to find a way to help the people who need it without demonizing them because of the ones that abuse the system. So, if you have any food in pantry that has been sitting there for a month or so, bring it down to your local church or food bank. There is a family out there that will be able to use right away.
And no, I am not turning into a bleeding heart liberal, I just realize that the issue isn't as black and white as some make it sound.