The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

November 6, 2013

Cuts to food stamp program help no one|

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The Daily Star

---- — For all fraud and other shenanigans we hear about food stamps, for all the delight some politicians and media sources take in pointing out the modern-day equivalents of “welfare queens,” the cut in benefits that occurred Friday is a genuine tragedy for millions of Americans.

Yes, if you look online at Craigslist, you’ll find — like FoxNews.com did — ads such as these. 

“If you need food. This is not a gimmick or game,” read one posting from Philadelphia. “Please let me know, I have food stamps for sale..... Serious Replies only!!!”

“DO YOU NEED SOME QUICK CASH?? -- $100 (atlanta) … If you get Food Stamps and need some extra cash then hit me asap,” reads another post.

Of course, they are no longer called food stamps, although that is still the common name for the benefits. Today, it’s the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Funded by the federal government and distributed by the states, debit cards are used by more than 50 million people in this country to buy food.

Selling those cards is illegal, and the government is trying to crack down, but the problem still exists.

Of larger concern is that for the huge percentage of those receiving aid, the expiration of a temporary benefit from the 2009 economic stimulus will do nothing to help the economy. For every dollar spent on food stamps, there is $1.70 in economic activity, according to one respected estimate.

It’s also not helping to keep people _ including children _ from being hungry. For the average recipient, the aid only provides $1.4 per meal. A family of four just took a $36 per month hit, dropping the maximum monthly benefit to $632.

Whenever Congress gets around to passing a farm bill, it is expected to make further cuts to the food stamp program, making fewer people eligible.

Yes, it wouldn’t hurt to contact your members of the House of Representatives and the Senate to urge them not to make life more miserable for those who genuinely need the benefits.

But perhaps it would be even more practical to donate as much as you can to our local food banks. There will be many opportunities to do so in the coming weeks, including a fashion show Friday at the Elks Club in Oneonta and an effort by the Otschodela Council, Boy Scouts of America 2013 Scouting for Food program going on now in Otsego, Delaware and Schoharie counties.

Otsego County Department of Social Services Commissioner Joyce Boyd said 5,911 individuals receive food stamps in the county.

“It will fall on the food banks,” she said, “because there is nothing more that we can do.”