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The Latest Assault on Food Stamps Holders

| April 24, 2018

Groceries should not be cudgels. (Brian Legate)

Groceries should not be cudgels. (Brian Legate)

By Jill Richardson

Once again, Republicans are taking aim at poor people.


What is it this time? Adding a stricter work requirement to receive what used to be known as food stamps. (Today it’s known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, but that just doesn’t have the same ring to it.)

If the Republican House bill goes through, anyone between the ages of 18 and 59 will have to work or participate in a work training program for 20 hours a week in order to receive food stamp benefits.

Frankly, this is both disgusting and counterproductive. Let me explain why.

First of all, among other things, food stamps are an incredible economic stimulus. For every $1 spent on food stamps, the economy gets a $1.79 boost. Every $1 billion spent on food stamps results in creating an additional 8,900 to 17,900 full time jobs.

In other words, cutting food stamps cuts jobs.

Making it harder to get food stamps will, in effect, cut food stamps — and therefore cut jobs.

How so? Well, most people on food stamps who can work already do.

About two out of five food stamp recipients live in households where someone works. They’re the working poor. They work, but don’t make enough money to make ends meet.

What about the rest, who have no income? One in five are disabled, and one quarter are elderly.

For many Americans, there’s a moral obligation to feed the hungry. Period, end of story, no more information needed. If somebody is hungry, feed them. The fact that feeding them creates jobs is just a bonus.

Let’s say you’re a skeptic, though. Who are these lazy people who just won’t work? And why can’t they work?

Turns out we’ve been here before, when we began requiring welfare recipients to have jobs or participate in training programs back in the 1990s. And, lucky for us, sociologists Jane Collins and Victoria Mayer researched the people affected by it and wrote a book about them called Both Hands Tied.

Note that the title is Both Hands Tied and not Lazy People Who Should Get Off Their Duffs and Work.

They found that most of the people on welfare had worked for most of their lives. In almost every single case, they went on welfare because a family member needed care and they had to stay home to do it, or they themselves were ill.

One woman had a severely disabled child that no day care would agree to accept. She had to stay home to care for her child, and therefore wasn’t able to work.

Is that the person you want to deny food stamps? The mother caring for her disabled child?

The job training programs provided weren’t helpful either. They didn’t teach useful skills, and they didn’t lead to people finding long-term work.

I don’t know who’s on food stamps and not working. But since food stamps pay only for food and not for any other needs, odds are everyone who can work already does. It’s not possible to get by otherwise.

I’ve been on food stamps. Trust me, you aren’t living the good life when you have to get them. On the contrary, you must be so poor to even qualify that you’ll do just about anything to work for more income.

Adding a work requirement to food stamps is a mean-spirited and short-sighted move that will harm our economy while exacerbating hunger.

jill richardson other words flaglerlive Jill Richardson is the author of “Recipe for America: Why Our Food System Is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It.” She is a columnist for OtherWords.org. 

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31 Responses for “The Latest Assault on Food Stamps Holders”

  1. Mikey Eyes says:

    This sums up how ridiculous the author of this article is. She wrote: “First of all, among other things, food stamps are an incredible economic stimulus. For every $1 spent on food stamps, the economy gets a $1.79 boost. Every $1 billion spent on food stamps results in creating an additional 8,900 to 17,900 full time jobs.” So Jill lets spend a trillion on food stamps (SNAP). and create between 8.9 to 17.9 million jobs.

    Anyone who goes shopping knows that there is abuse of this system. It is right there in front of your eyes while you are on line. And the starving of the children and elderly tactics were proven bogus before you were born Jill.

    Yes people need to be helped no doubt about it. But the government is not the answer!

  2. Stan says:

    The day of free rides in this country are coming to an end! caused mostly by misuse and free hand outs by the Democratic Party to get votes over the years!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I say do it! I know way too many people on food stamps that can work, but are choosing not to because they want something for nothing from the taxpayers pocket!! Not to mention the druggies who are out there selling their food stamps for drugs!

  4. r&r says:

    There are people who never had a job and relies on the government to feed them, house them and provide medical.. The illegals are the ones doing the work because the people collecting all the free stuff don’t to lose it by going to work.

  5. Linze says:

    Of course democrats don’t want to lose votes
    How does making people work for them going to hurt economy?
    You said most of the people all ready work
    The 18 year olds can work at something for the money tax payers work to supply the money

  6. woody says:

    DRUG TEST FOOD STAMP RECIPIENTS.That will create even more job in the health care field.

  7. Pogo says:

    @trumpholes, drudge duds, ditto heads, fox and fools diaper models – get a clue

    food stamp use by state
    https://www.google.com/search?q=food+stamp+use+by+state&rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS789US789&oq=food+stamp+use+by+state&

    crooked ricky and the Republican party rob them hoods – Vote Them Out

  8. BMW says:

    Oh, lord, this woman obviously has never been to West Virginia where 1 in 6 people are on some type of government assistance. Trust me, 20 hours a week will only curb the time cheater’s spend on social media, hunting, motorcycling or boating in the summer months. If this policy shakes out a few of the abusers and gets others out into the community, so be it!

  9. Chris A Pickett says:

    Sorry madam, but I do not see how requiring people to work while on ADC is a problem or is mean. Why should they sit at home all day, many times having more out of wedlock children, while the MAJORITY works like NORMAL people? Perhaps the author would like to take a second job, without pay, so someone can get paid for doing ZERO! If they are capable, they should be working for it! And for the record you have to take a drug test for MOST jobs, what is wrong with testing welfare recipients. I had to in the MILITARY.

  10. John Russell says:

    I’m disagree with this author. I live in an area with the system is abused heavily. While I do agree that there is some who need help, there is way to much abuse. When I see people selling the card usage for 50 cents on the dollar so they have cash, this is abuse. When I see people buying sushi (uncooked) and it can be purchased using the card, abuse. I feel that drug testing should be part of assistance program, also the 20 hours a week could be job training or community cleanup.

  11. Daniel Floyd says:

    Only a moron believes that food stamps stimulate economic growth. Jill says food stamps give an economic boost. Food stamps aren’t free. Nothing is free Jill.

  12. gmath55 says:

    There must be a lot of fools out there since Fox is the number one network in ratings while lying CNN is 13 behind HGTV, History, Hallmark, and the even the cartoon network Nickelodeon. More people watch cartoons then lying CNN. LOL There is no fool like a fool without a clue. Only one crooked is Hillary and the loser Democrats.

  13. Pogo says:

    @Only a moron or criminal

    would persecute people on the ragged edges of life while doing less than nothing about this:

    annual unpaid us federal taxes
    https://www.google.com/search?q=annual+unpaid+us+federal+taxes&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

  14. Fredrick says:

    OMG…. I only got to “First of all, among other things, food stamps are an incredible economic stimulus. For every $1 spent on food stamps, the economy gets a $1.79 boost. Every $1 billion spent on food stamps results in creating an additional 8,900 to 17,900 full time jobs.” before I spit out my soda all over my key board. Do you realize how dumb that statement is? If the those who were receiving a benefit “worked” for some of that benefit, how much would that put back into the economy? I have no issue helping those in need but what is wrong with those who are able to at least participate in a work training program? When do people need to start taking responsibility for themselves? There are those that need and deserve the help, and those on the right have no issue helping those that do. But until you stop making stupid statements about taking from everyone, to give to others who are not wiling to take some responsibility for themselves and how that “boosts” the economy, the right is not going to listen.

  15. Lovely says:

    Why are old people so hateful? Oh, and all those little anecdotes of what people “saw” others do with foodstamps? Yeah, I call BS. By the way, the biggest users of food stamps are the elderly, the working poor and White folk? And guess which companies send their employees to apply for SNAP benefits – Wal-Mart and Mcdonald’s.

  16. Fernando Melendez says:

    Nice twist put on it by the author, however most will agree that we are not talkin about the elderly disabled or the people that are temporary out of work, we’re talking about those that have made a commitment not to work, and live off these supplements designed to get you up and going back on your feet. I’d say its an excellent plan, I think we need to weed out those that can go to work and be productive citizens making it harder for them to get it, would help weed out those particular people out.

  17. mark101 says:

    A good read on the people in Fla in the SNAP program.
    https://www.cbpp.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/snap_factsheet_florida.pdf

    How quick people forget that elderly are in this program as well.

    And that whites without a college degree are the largest users of government assistance programs.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/02/16/the-biggest-beneficiaries-of-the-government-safety-net-working-class-whites/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.ee21d0325024

    Also Fla ranks 12 on the list of states in the food stamp program.

    Percentage of people on food stamps: 15.20%
    Number of people on food stamps: 3,132,728
    Estimated cost of benefits: Around $380.92 million

    Though Florida has a lesser percentage of people on food stamps than other states on this list, the sheer volume of people residing here make it the No. 1 state for total people on food stamps. Over 3 million residents receive assistance which costs the government close to $381 million a year.

    Yep us working folk pay taxes to keep these programs going.

  18. Marty Barrett says:

    Look at all you little conservatives showing off your reading and writing skills. Cute

  19. Stranger in a strange land says:

    “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” Quoting Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”.

    I have no doubt there is a small percentage of people who abuse SNAP (food stamps). The maximum monthly benefit for 1 person is $192 in 2018. That is $2,304 per year. If you are unwilling to allow some people “getting away” with this so that the vast majority of recipients that truly need this pittance can get it without being harassed, what is wrong with you? Where is your outrage over millionaires and billionaires who game or cheat the tax code? Do you think they are “getting away” with $2,304 per year. IRS estimates tax evasion costs $458 Billion per year. For many tax cheats it’s millions per year. The problem is Fox News doesn’t cover that and you don’t see those theives in the supermarket line. You see their housekeepers.
    Before you judge, here are SNAP rules and IRS estimate article. Focus your anger where it belongs.
    https://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/a-quick-guide-to-snap-eligibility-and-benefits
    http://fortune.com/2016/04/29/tax-evasion-cost/

  20. Anonymous says:

    first let me explain why you are very wrong. I am a Republican who is poor. Receive Ebt and i work. I have problem with working and i try to work more so i can get off quicker. I hate that my neighbor gets twice as much and doess nothing. Kids at school during tge day means you can go do something.

  21. Over it says:

    Wow. Nice to know how my neighbors feel about social programs. I can’t wait to get out of this city!

  22. gmath55 says:

    I worked at Walmart. They never sent me out to apply for Snap benefits. I too have seen people abuse the food stamps. So, Lovely why are you living in fantasy world? La, la, la!

  23. Buylocal says:

    What would Jesus do? Feed the poor I believe. What with the devil do? Just read some of the comments above.

  24. a tiny manatee says:

    I’m for drug testing and work requirements for all the deadbeats that get social assistance. There are a whole bunch of losers on social security that live off the dole but could be working with no problems.

  25. Daphne says:

    It’s about time!

  26. LOL.. says:

    Jesus is a character in a book…

  27. Nancy N. says:

    I hope none of the people posting hateful, uncharitable (and in most cases, provably untrue) things here consider yourselves Christians. Your lack of compassion and respect for your fellow human beings is what is contemptible, not people being given food to eat.

    What has happened to your souls, that you can discard people as worthless in this way based simply on knowing they need food to eat? I hope that none of you ever are so unlucky as to find yourself in a situation where you need a hand up from another person and get slapped in the face instead.

  28. Kland says:

    I would be willing to bet about 85%of the food stamps are not used to feed families they are sold for cash !!! The abuse of SNAP in this county is utterly ridiculous!!!

  29. Greg says:

    Doesnt matter what jesus would do. Jesus would ask an able bodied mooch why he isnt working for his meal.

  30. rob says:

    Saying that food stamps is a financial gain would mean that the government should print a zillion dollars in food stamps then everyone will be rich, stupid comment

  31. Marvin says:

    Love ur neighbor more than your self and this once blessed nation wouldn’t. Need food stamps but most Americans are selfish and greedy

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