The P.A.

A weekly address from Patrick Adams,
President of St. Louis Community Credit Union

Fix The Economy, And SNAP Will Fix Itself

On November 12th, 2013, posted in: Uncategorized by

I have never been on food stamps, i.e. the federal government program referred to by the less than correlating acronym SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). “Snap” is historically a measurement of very short time, instantaneous, immediate, etc. It would be my guess that any person who finds themselves on food stamps didn’t get there in an instant – the antithesis of “snap” would be more the norm. As a sidebar, given the bureaucracy of the Feds, to name a program SNAP is tragically comic.

Whatever political side of the aisle one is on usually drives the belief on government expenditures. Conservatives want to cut and liberals want to expand. The “cut and expand” argument is decades old and, as witnessed in recent times, is usually cemented in ideological partisanship – the likes of which have had an eerie resemblance to a modern day Hatfields & McCoys.

I’m here to say that, whatever your political leanings, food stamps for hurting families are necessary and desperately needed. I pay a lot of taxes and, by nature, am frugal. But cutting food stamp distribution and putting families and children in risky health situations because of a lack of nutrition is crazy. Surely, the government wastes my tax dollars in much less constructive ways than denying hungry families food. In the richest country on the planet, it seems a wee bit paradoxical that food for kids is relegated to a considered cut, especially when government waste is prevalent in countless other arenas. Fix those areas first – please!

There has been increased spending in the SNAP program in recent times because the economy remains bad. Poverty has risen, as well. The food stamp program fixes itself in the years to come if we can get the economy going. That’s the problem. Fix that.

Jesus said in the Bible that the poor will always be with us. The thought of a hungry kid makes my stomach turn. Faith-based organizations, food pantries, social service agencies, community initiatives, school projects and countless individuals do all that is possible to ensure that we feed our own. Yet, a couple of weeks ago, the government cut food stamp distribution. UGH! My guess is that the decision to cut food stamps was collectively made by a group of well-fed bureaucrats on their way to a hearty lunch.

Seventy-three percent of 48 million people on food stamps are heads of household and the kids that occupy them. Income for the typical family on food stamps stands at 57% of the poverty line. For those who have never even approached this line, that’s $10,875 per year for a family of three. Some help is warranted. All in, 91% of all SNAP benefits go to households in poverty.

Is there fraud? Yes. But not by these families. Trust me, nobody in the 91% wants the designation of food stamp recipient. If there are able-bodied people who are beating the system, we need to find them and weed them out. Spend the money to create a concerted effort to eliminate the fraud; not “throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

I could be wrong, but can someone in Washington DC leadership (an oxymoron) convince me that the recent attack on the food stamp program was something more than budget-cutting zeal and/or political ideology? If not, I’m afraid we’re reaching a new low.

Lord, help us for we know not what we’ve done.

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