By Jill Richardson
The Trump administration has proposed a rule that will cut an estimated 3 million eligible people off food stamps while depriving half a million eligible children of school lunch.
I’ve been on food stamps.
I spent most of my life with mental illness, and it was not diagnosed until a few years ago. Not knowing there was a reason everything was so difficult for me, I pushed myself until I could push no more.
I got good grades in school, and went to college on a scholarship. I got my degree and then got a full-time job like I thought I was supposed to.
I began getting severe migraines every day at the age of 14. That was my body telling me that I was doing more than I could handle and I needed to stop and heal. I had a migraine every day for 23 years. Working was hellish and painful, and I still tried.
When I could no longer handle an office job, I tried being self-employed and working from home. I could never make enough to really get by on. Then I went on food stamps. It didn’t mean I could stop working. I got $70 a month so I could eat, but I still had to pay rent and put gas in my car, and for that, I worked.
Food stamps did its job for me. It helped me get through a tough time until I could get back on my own two feet.
I’m fortunate I didn’t have children. If I did, my kids would have suffered through my financial insecurity through no fault of their own. But food stamps and school lunch would have helped ensure they had a chance in life despite being born to a mom too sick to make ends meet.
While the moral righteousness of food stamps justifies the program on its own, there are other benefits to it as well.
Food stamps are a huge stimulus to the economy. Families spend their SNAP benefits to buy food from local businesses like grocery stores, and that creates jobs — from the store clerk stocking the shelves, to the truck driver transporting the food, to the farmers and ranchers producing the food.
For every $5 the U.S. government spends on food stamps, it generates $9 in economic activity. That’s an incredibly effective stimulus.
Federal school breakfast and lunch programs do more than help food security too — they help kids succeed. Imagine trying to pay attention or take a test while you’re hungry. School breakfast and lunch helps kids from low income families break the cycle of poverty when they grow up, because it helps them benefit more from their education.
The movement to cut low-income people who are eligible for food stamps and school lunch off of those programs isn’t just immoral, it’s short-sighted.
The Trump administration claims the measure will save money because there will be less federal spending on helping hungry people eat. In addition to the cruelty of “saving money” by taking food from the hungry, it will also ultimately harm the nation by removing the economic stimulus that food stamps provide and making it that much harder for half a million already poor kids to do well in school.
Forcing kids to go hungry is a lose-lose.
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.
Reviewing the income and assets to see if people automatically receiving food stamps is not lose-lose. It’s called insuring those who need it get it and those who don’t qualify don’t.
Michael Cocchiola says
Another Republican jackboot on the neck of disadvantaged men, women and children. This depravity must stop.
How come your article did not even hint at a better and more productive idea which is too eliminate all of the FRAUD in the SNAP program so there would be significantly MORE money for the people who really need it. But of course it’s Trump’s fault for the fraud and corruption in the SNAP program.
It does burn me when I see a family buying lobster and steak on Food Stamps and I am buying shrimp and hamburger. Had a year where I had 14 W2 Forms as the union was playing games with working you 28 days and laying you off so they didn’t have to pay health car, but I kept knocking.
I would suggest stringent requirements and food be available like we had in the military. Nothing wrong with MRE’s. Our warriors eat them daily. Won’t get fat eating them either…Save some lives.
Well maybe some of the Trump supporters who rely on the food stamps and free lunch for their kids will now begin to see what a cruel and uncaring person he really is and therefore, not vote for him. Children are innocent of the world mess we have and should not be denied food so Trump can cut the budget while he spends billions of tax money on his lavish whims such as living at Mara Largo in the winter, and his golf club in Nj and all the expensive rallies. All of these things cost huge money, as Trump has to have secret service for himself wife, kids and family when does these things. Also the money he spends on personal lawyers for his lawsuits and hush money.
There SHOULD be government aid for those who TRULY need it and cant take care of themselves like the elderly and those with disabilities.
Old Sam says
To the person who wrote this article. Yes, sweetie, we ALL have some kind of “mental illness”. That’s just life. During my 49 years of working fulltime for less then $8.00 /hr for most of my life, I too would have to skip a day of eating or a week without meats. Somedays I would day dream while doing my “blue collar” work, about why some people have new cars, get free food, free money from the government while I crawled thru life trying to pay my taxes and provide for my family. After 3 decades of watching others get FREE everything because “they could” really began to PISS ME OFF. And guess what, it STILL DOES. If I had my way, NO ONE would get FREE FOOD, FREE MONEY, FREE EDUCATION. If you can’t EARN your way thru life, then maybe your living in the wrong country……….. Thank You President Trump
ps: Take ALL the FREE EUCATION monies away too !
I knew four people who were on food stamps. They were in their late 40’s and early 50’s. They would swap their food stamps for cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. You know where they are now? Dead!
The Facts About Food Stamp Fraud https://www.forbes.com/sites/simonconstable/2018/04/04/the-facts-about-food-stamp-fraud/#42c100ccf880
CB from PC says
Nothing wrong with eliminating free-loaders from this program.
If as an adult, you cannot afford to feed and care for your kids, do not have them.
Plenty of cheap or free birth-control methods available.
I also have seen 2 shopping carts at checkout.
One with beer and wine, etc. the other with “eligible” SNAP items.
A wad of cash comes out to pay for one, SNAP card for other.
Help those who meet requirements.
All others…get a job.
CB from PC says
Thank you Old Sam.
There is no “free lunch”.
Yet a portion of the $8.00 you made went to provide it.