This place matters

This place matters

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Hungry

I've seen a few news stories about states trying to further limit the foods people are allowed to purchase with food stamps. I think we've all made up our minds about whether poor people eating seafood is a threat to all America holds dear. 
However, I'm hoping maybe you'll consider changing the picture you've got in your head of food stamp recipients. I think we've all had the experience of being in line behind some expensively-dressed person buying a cartload of luxury foods with a SNAP card. It's kind of infuriating, so it sticks in your head; but is the lazy obese lady with the fancy mani-pedi and the armloads of lobster tails the true face of government food assistance?
Not unless she's way younger than she looks. A full 45% of SNAP recipients are kids, according to USDA.gov. Another 8% are elderly, and another 10% are people under the age of 60 who have disabilities. 
Most recipients are white. 
Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for food assistance, and documented immigrants must live here for 5 years before becoming eligible. 
Obesity rates among people using SNAP are fairly close to obesity rates among people with similar economic situations living in similar areas, though studies differ on how close they are. 
About 40% of SNAP recipients live in a household with an income; the number would probably be higher, but households with incomes are the first to lose SNAP assistance when cuts are made - which means that every time we cut food stamp funding, we punish people for having jobs.
In addition, the average individual gets $133 worth of food (with 4% getting only $16 a month), which could keep you in crab legs and lobster tails for a day or two, but will leave you mighty hungry the remaining 28 days of the month. 
Look, I know your mind's probably made up on food assistance funding. But maybe, when you picture Ms. Obese Fancy Nails, picture half a dozen malnourished kids standing around her, and a grandma in a wheelchair nearby. Throw in a blind man and a woman with Down's Syndrome, and add a couple people scraping by on minimum wage while you're at it. Maybe if we all choose to see the whole picture, we can conduct the debate with more compassion and decorum. Maybe if we all choose to see people instead of stereotypes, we can reach some solutions that leave everybody happier and healthier. 

My cat, on the other hand, is totally a shiftless drunken
layabout who eats seafood every day. Tragically
he refuses to let me give him a mani-pedi.
Also, I did not take this picture for this blog post; I just happen to have
a photo of Puck spooning with a bottle of booze on my computer.
I really gotta get out more.

2 comments:

jenny_o said...

There's also the possibility that the expensively dressed lady with the mani-pedi buying luxury items is:
1. dressed in her best clothing from before she lost her job
2. sporting a self-done mani-pedi - it's not that hard and the polish could've been from pre-job-loss as well
3. suffering from an invisible disability such as a bad back, chronic fatigue syndrome or severe depression
4. buying fancy food to make a special, once a year dinner for someone she loves more than she loves food for herself

It could happen, and we just cannot know, in most cases.

jenny_o said...

And I fully agree with everything you said :)

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