Fight Over Food Stamps
Food stamp cuts a cruel proposal
Above, a store in New York advertises that it accepts food stamps. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Also The Reply: Opinion writers respond to reader comments and letters September 21, 2013 In some political circles, food stamp recipients are portrayed as prone to fraud, too entitled to work or living too comfortably at taxpayers’ expense. Some Times readers couldn’t disagree more. Those who sent us letters to the editor this week were almost unanimous in their opposition to the Republican-controlled House’s vote to pass a spending cut that would remove nearly 4 million Americans from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, which provides aid to families and individuals who, for a variety of reasons, have significant trouble paying for food. Many said this action amounted to an attack on those who could least afford it; others called it immoral and unprecedented. Here is a selection of those letters. — Paul Thornton, letters editor Altadena resident J.H. Benson questions the GOP ‘s morality: “House Republicans are badly in need of a moral compass. Their hypocrisy is only surpassed by their cruelty. “The GOP says that the 4 million Americans who will be kicked off SNAP are capable of helping themselves. I hope that our very capable farmers aren’t being subsidized while this assistance to the poor is deemed too expensive.” Long Beach resident Matthew Black points out more pressing spending concerns: “The GOP has truly hit a new low. After increasing annual defense spending by more than $300 billion since 2001, spending $2 trillion on unnecessary wars and passing $1.7 trillion in tax cuts between 2001 and 2003 that primarily went to the wealthiest Americans, Republicans need to save $40 billion on food stamps.
She says she’s unhappy with the changes he is making. She hates his new rules that limit how much food can be given, and to whom, and how often. Exasperated, she exclaims: “Aren’t we supposed to be giving to the needy?” The encounter helps to crystallise Saul’s thinking about charity food aid . Of course we are helping the needy, but what do you say to the hungry person who turns up after the food has run out? Why do we never find outwhy the person is hungry in the firstplace? He starts to question the entire charity food-bank model “of privileged people helping the underprivileged, perpetuating an us-and-them atmosphere”. For Saul, 47, a community organiser in his home town of Toronto, the problem he believes is that traditional food banks don’t really help the needy. Their food “handouts” are often of dismal quality, and the “transaction” the silent, humiliating transfer of the food parcel does nothing to help clients’ dignity or self-esteem, get them a job, help them out of poverty , or improve their health and wellbeing. For a moment food-bank clients are not hungry but not for long. Whose interests? “The truth is,” he writes in the book, published this week in the UK, “the more time I spend in the food bank, the more certain I am of the failure of a charitable approach to hunger and poverty, which serves the interests of food corporations and some volunteers better than it does the poor themselves.” (This revelation came to him in 1998.) He decides that The Stop , his down-at-heel food bank in central Toronto, has to get “aspirational”. Out go the bruised vegetables and the “any-food-is-better-than-no-food-for-the-poor” ethos. They take over a huge, abandoned, tram-repair shed, set up a garden and kitchens, and hold farmers’ markets, cookery courses and after-school programmes. Local food-bank clients start to volunteer. The post-food-bank model, he decides, has to be based on relationships, not transactions.
Texas Food Fight Caught on Students’ Cell Phones
The food fight between OConnor High School and Brandeis High School happened after Brandeis football team defeated OConnor 12-10 on Saturday night. Students from both schools headed to Whataburger where the wild food fight broke out. Cell phone video showed food, drinks and trays flying through the air as students ducked and screamed. Some students could be facing suspension for their actions, according to ABC News San Antonio affiliate KSAT-TV . Campus administrators will review videos to identify students who will face appropriate consequences including suspension from school, Northside Independent School district spokesman Pascual Gonzalez said in a statement to KSAT. NISD will also cooperate with law enforcement and restaurant management in pursuing criminal charges if warranted. (Credit: Steven Perez/FLickr) A spokesman for Whataburger said they will not be seeking criminal charges. The principals from both Brandeis and OConnor high schools have reached out to Whataburger to offer their sincere apology for the food fight, Whataburger Corporate Communications said in a statement to ABC News. In addition, students from both schools, whether they were involved or not, have come to our restaurant and apologized, and we greatly appreciate the outpouring of support. The burger chain said they understood that it was an emotional moment between small groups of students that were not representative of the entire student population. The Whataburger team will continue to welcome Brandeis and OConnor students at our restaurants and were also committed to continuing the partnership and support of both high schools, the statement said.
Food banks are ‘a slow death of the soul’
She’s quietly going to the food pantry, checking the sales in the grocery store, spending some time at the kitchen table clipping coupons and making a serious plan to turn that box of pasta, pound of beef, and if she’s lucky, some fresh fruits and vegetables, into a meal plan truly worthy of a Gucci belt. Is there fraud? Yes. Is there some waste? Yes. But today, the food stamp program has an error rate of only 3% — and those errors were mostly committed by the government in underpayments as well as overpayments and payments to ineligible families. Fraud is a piece of grain compared with the millions of families who manage to put food on the table because of this program. And those few bad apples who do commit fraud are no excuse to kick the unemployed and the poor when they are engaged in a mighty battle to get themselves and their families back on their feet. So shame on this Congress for fighting dirty during working people’s hour of struggle. Polls show Americans haven’t approved much of Congress lately. But there is a way to gain favor. If this Congress wants to make cuts, why not look at the Pentagon, notorious for waste? Or check out the Department of Agriculture, which made about $28 million in inappropriate farm assistance payments, according to a compilation of government waste reported in Business Insider. Or perhaps lawmakers could start with themselves? Rep.