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.