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#61 of 76 Old 04-12-2010, 01:12 PM
 
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I saw that statement in there which is why I added that last paragraph in my last post. I didn't mean to give you any bad feelings. I just know that a lot of people think there should be strict requirements and your post touched on that subject.
Sorry, I wasn't being snarky to you. The tone of some of the later replies made me think it might have been missed.
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#62 of 76 Old 04-12-2010, 04:25 PM
 
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"I would like to see a requirement that only ingredients can be bought, no premade foods, but there are a lot of families out there that could never find the time or tools to cook from scratch."

I disagree. I think that is a perception that processed food manufacturers have tried very hard to propagate - that people who need food stamps are somehow less able/willing to cook simple meals from whole ingredients than people in, say, Mexico who are by every possible metric poorer and living in worse conditions, and that it is somehow insensitive for Americans to point out that the awesome buying power of our food assistance programs should not be increasing the market share of the costliest and least nourishing foods available. The way SNAP dollars can be spent really does affect the kinds of products that created and marketed to all of us.
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#63 of 76 Old 04-12-2010, 06:00 PM
 
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I think most people would be happy to cook from scratch - but you have a hard time of it if you don't have a stove. Or any pots and pans. Or a place to live. These are all situations that came up when I was working with my church's social concerns emergency food voucher program. I had to get rid of my preconceived notions about how people ""should" be spending their food dollars very quickly.
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#64 of 76 Old 04-12-2010, 07:03 PM
 
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I don't think anybody was suggesting that homelessness was compatible with home cooking, or that emergency food program should hand out nothing but rice and beans.

But the conflation kind of makes my point. The vast, vast majority of people using SNAP are just regular people who find themselves in a situation where they are getting by on a very low income. They have housing. They have stoves. They have some pans. And for crying out loud, they are human beings. We've been heeding the call of hunger by preparing food for quite a while now. It's not sane public policy to say, "well, we know this stuff is causing national epidemics of diabetes and obesity, but let's spend billions of dollars in public funds to further enrich the corporations who make it."

A nice alternative might be to give those same corporations some standards to live up to if they want their products to be SNAP-approved. They'd fall all over themselves to retain access to this market.
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#65 of 76 Old 04-13-2010, 03:01 PM
 
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I disagree. My dh's income is high enough that we don't qualify, but too low for us to save to any real degree. So our tax dollars should pay for FS for people w/money in the bank? Where is the sense in that?
I agree with UC. Why should someone get to comfortably sit on their savings? Isn't the point of savings to have a cushion for when money is tight? So use it. Then, when it's gone and if help is still needed, go on food stamps. It's pretty angering that so many people really think food stamps should be allowed to enable a family to keep socking away extra funds.
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#66 of 76 Old 04-13-2010, 03:34 PM
 
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I'm going to risk making some of you mad, but food stamps and other forms of aid shouldn't be viewed as supplementary income for those with savings and other assets. The point of saving money is for when money's tight. If someone with cash in savings is going hungry because they don't get food stamps and don't want to touch their savings, why should that be the problem of taxpayers? Help yourself before expecting others to do it.

The mindset of "why should I save any money to help myself in tough times if people without any get handouts?" is a huge problem in this country. It's not a sustainable system when everyone spends all they can, spending more than they have with credit, then to go right on aid the moment income goes down. It's not sustainable for people to sock money away into savings, then go on aid when their monthly income takes a hit because they don't want their savings to be used.

I'm not knocking those who use their savings to get by, and then have to get help. When I was laid off, we stretched what we had almost a year and a half and then had to get aid. Before even considering aid, we downsized our home and sold off assets from jewelry to our second car. It wasn't fun watching our savings dwindle, but that was the point of having it. To have it when we needed it. It would have been unconscionable to go get food stamps so that we could preserve our savings balance when there are so many people who only have more than $20 in their pockets when it's time to pay rent.

Food stamps average only a couple dollars per person per day because of the sheer number of people who get it. A lot of people with tremendous assets get it with their money hidden in stocks rather than in cash in a bank account. A lot of people have savings accounts, but only present their checking account balances. This isn't fair to those who have to go without meals just to make sure there's a meal a day. There's be more available to help those who really need it if those with assets were willing to tap those assets to help themselves.

It's probably not a popular opinion to have, but there needs to be a stigma against those with assets who run to get on aid when they could be using those assets to help themselves first, instead of taking money from the pot that is intended to help those who have nothing. There needs to be more pride in living below one's means to save for when times are tough instead of "why should I have to save?" If you have a way to feed yourself and choose not to use your own money and assets to do it, then that's your choice. Don't expect others to feel sorry and give a handout.
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#67 of 76 Old 04-13-2010, 03:50 PM
 
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"At any rate how many people have actually tried to live off the $100 per month allotted per person..that's $25 a week per person."

SNAP was never intended to cover 100% of anybody's grocery budget, just like Social Security was never intended to cover 100% of any retiree's living costs. But of course, there are plenty of individuals/families stretching these supplemental programs to the max because they don't have other sources of income. It was a huge problem even before the economic collapse.

Yes, a family of four with access to a suburban/small town chain grocery store can eat for $400/month. Been there, done that. I'm sure you don't want to hear about the mile-long uphill walk we made with our groceries in backpacks when the ravine flooded and washed out the dirt road. BUT, people who do not have reasonable access to a real grocery store CANNOT spend that little for food, and that's most people who live carless in low-income urban areas. So much as I think that SNAP should be a subsistence staples-only program (no convenience foods, no organics), that's not a realistic modification while our food distribution system is still so monumentally screwed up. If I were made the SNAP Czar tomorrow, I wouldn't make ANY changes immediately other than to give the boot to the agribusiness lobbyists who make so much money off the HCFCS-stuffed fake food that they target-market to low income shoppers, and to start incentivizing grocerie retailers to penetrate new markets and stock the short list of foods that would ultimately be SNAP-eligible.

Ideally, SNAP is a supplemental program providing staple food items to families to prevent hunger. Rather than making a list of what is NOT allowed, it would make a lot more sense to make a list of what IS allowed. But there would have to be some serious infrastructure improvement first and foremost. There is no point in giving a person a coupon for 20 lbs of rice if s/he has no place to BUY the damn rice. But I think we drastically underestimate people who use SNAP by assuming that they lack either the will or the knowledge to make real food, or that they can't/won't learn to use ingredients if ingredients are what the program is handing out. We've built up a whole system that makes junk food much, much easier for low-income shoppers to obtain than real food, and then we acts as though it's some inherent personality flaw in the targeted consumers (SNAP or otherwise) that leads them to feed their families a diet high in junk.
I hereby nominate you for food czar. You hit it on the head right down to the problem with how food is distributed in this country.

I don't know why this reminds me of an old friend on mine bitching that WIC wouldn't let her buy Horizons milk, Egglands Best eggs, some sort of incredibly expensive organic goat cheese, and give her a larger produce check for buying organic. Looking a gift-horse in the mouth. Sure, I'd like organic too, but I'm very grateful for what WIC helps with now, and the "cadillac" foods are just another incentive for us to get back to a point of being able to buy these things on our own.
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#68 of 76 Old 04-13-2010, 05:35 PM
 
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I think the point was that the savings amount you can have, aka 'all your assets' is a ridiculously low amount. Think of tax refunds. I'd rather a family live frugally and put that into savings rather than go on a spending spree to keep qualifying. It takes a long time to get back on to SNAP, versus how long it takes to get kicked off.

I've never gotten SNAP, but I've had Medi-Cal for pregnancy. All assets were supposed to be under $2k. I'm sure some people are looking at that number and rolling their eyes. Well, here, in the Bay Area, 2k is very little. In fact, if your assets are too much (and for Medi-Cal they can count cars) you go on to Medi-cal share of cost. You know what they expect a single pregnant woman to live on each month? $600. Anything over that amount, you pay as your 'share' of cost.

For a family of four? $1100 a month. Mind you, here in the bay area, studios go for $600 rock bottom price. And no one will rent a studio to a family of 4.

Right now, we are renting a house with family members and we are all splitting the cost. It's me, dh, ds and soon to be baby in ONE room. Rent & utilities will average $650. It makes me mad that being so frugal, doing without and barely building up some savings is now making it so that we are probably going to pay 'share of cost' Medi-Cal. But we can't afford it. The only way is through 1) depleting any cushion we have, which, with $1100 a month 'allocated' to us, will be fast, since we do need to you know, eat, pay for insurance, gas, etc. Then, the only way to get by is to go on WIC and SNAP. Rice and beans is fine, but I'm not willing to eat 3rd world poverty portions while pregnant. Sad part? Dh is working 80hrs a week to put us in a better position, financially (aka no need for social programs) but this is really going to be a catch-22. Why work so hard for nothing? There's no realistic number crunching. It helps if families can save enough to have a cushion. Because with a cushion, it's easier to get off.

Oh, and those numbers for how much a family 'needs'? I looked it up. It was decided in 1989. 21years later, the amounts haven't changed. How does that help anyone???

Ami

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#69 of 76 Old 04-13-2010, 06:39 PM
 
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People who are arguing that assets should be used before food stamps are ignoring the fact that they will have to use those assets for housing and for health care, two gigantic expenses. It's not that people with savings expect not to use them. It's that they know there are going to be huge outputs for those assets and it would be somewhat comforting to be able to stretch those assets for an even larger period of time.
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#70 of 76 Old 04-15-2010, 05:53 AM
 
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Ami, I used to live in the Bay Area. We moved from one high COL area to another with family. The amounts haven't changed for inflation, you're right, and a broken part of the system is that the amount doesn't vary by location. Out in Chowchilla or Atwater, $2000 is more than rent for 3 months for a house. That is one month of rent here where we live now, in n old house that doesn't even have a heater. What's kept us from getting married is that by not being married, our daughter gets Medi-Cal under my name because my income is under the limit. Our household income is over the limit, but we barely squeak by. We don't have credit debt of anything, and just barely make it. But our total income in Chowchilla could rent a mansion. Yet the qualification amount is the same. This is so wrong. It's like if you have enough for rent in high COL areas, you're rich enough to not need help, even when there's nothing left for anything else.

Hannah, do you think someone should be allowed to have $100,000 in savings, and to still get food stamps, with them claiming future housing or medical expenses? It sucks to build a safety net, and the to worry as it's depleting. But government aid shouldn't be the primary safety net with one's own savings account coming afterward. I understand the concern about paying rent and wanting to make sure money's saved for that. Easy way to lower your assets is to pre-pay several months of rent. The money for air doesn't come out of thin air. It comes from working people. It's not endless. Money needs to circulate through the economy. Cash sitting in savings takes money out of the economy. Handing more money to people with pretty nice savings accounts adds to the problem. They have the money to feed themselves for a while. Lots of people don't have that much.

There's a serious problem when the mindset is why should someone have to pay for their own food when they have the money to do so, why shouldn't the taxpayers have to buy some of it instead. The welfare coffers aren't bottomless.
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#71 of 76 Old 04-15-2010, 11:18 AM
 
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"I would like to see a requirement that only ingredients can be bought, no premade foods, but there are a lot of families out there that could never find the time or tools to cook from scratch."

I disagree. I think that is a perception that processed food manufacturers have tried very hard to propagate - that people who need food stamps are somehow less able/willing to cook simple meals from whole ingredients than people in, say, Mexico who are by every possible metric poorer and living in worse conditions, and that it is somehow insensitive for Americans to point out that the awesome buying power of our food assistance programs should not be increasing the market share of the costliest and least nourishing foods available. The way SNAP dollars can be spent really does affect the kinds of products that created and marketed to all of us.
Generational living is more common in places like Mexico. When Abuela or Tia are home to cook while the single mom is working, well sure, it's easy to cook from scratch. If the single mom is working two jobs and only has an hour of 'quality time' w/the kids she shouldn't have to spend it all in the kitchen, yk?

I had a friend that raised her young kids on public assistance. She made three healthy, hot meals a day for them. She didn't spend her time watching soap operas or surfing the 'net. She had the time and she used it wisely. BUT she was also not at work for hours every day, coming home tired and w/sore feet. Not everyone is able to do that.
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#72 of 76 Old 04-15-2010, 05:52 PM
 
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There's a serious problem when the mindset is why should someone have to pay for their own food when they have the money to do so, why shouldn't the taxpayers have to buy some of it instead. The welfare coffers aren't bottomless.
I honestly believe that everyone should have access to the safety net. I've always been a big proponent of such a net. One could turn your premise around and say why should there even be a safety net if savings are supposed to come first? Why should I be paying for a safety net, while I save for my own needs, while others don't bother?

It's the old three legged stool metaphor, where one's net should consist of personal savings, government programs and, well, I forget what the third one is supposed to be....but you get my point.

I have *never* in my life been attracted to the mindset/political philosophy that one should be on their own, but I also think it's pretty darn unjust to penalize someone for saving by forbidding them to access the safety net.

My job is exempt from unemployment. I wouldn't be able to access it if I lost my job. It appears that my state agrees with my line of reasoning regarding food stamps, because I looked into it. There aren't asset limits, at least for food stamps. Luckily, I don't think it's liable to be an issue at this time.
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#73 of 76 Old 04-15-2010, 07:09 PM
 
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I honestly believe that everyone should have access to the safety net. I've always been a big proponent of such a net. One could turn your premise around and say why should there even be a safety net if savings are supposed to come first? Why should I be paying for a safety net, while I save for my own needs, while others don't bother?
Some people don't make enough to barely cover there needs let alone to save anything. There is also the argument on what a need actually is. If someone owns a big house, 2 cars, a swimming pool, and lots of clothes and jewelry and has a moderate savings but then loses their job, does that give them equal chance to qualify for assistance compared to someone in a small apartment who walks to work, has no savings and wears 2nd hand clothes, or even further someone who has no home.
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#74 of 76 Old 04-15-2010, 07:58 PM
 
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I'd like to see taxable food items not be purchasable with food stamps- currently those can be purchased with food stamps but then tax isn't charged. It wouldn't be too complicated to cut out soda and candy from the Food Stamps list, without affecting cookies or cakes or muffins (which people can and do fill up on and many consider to be a snack or a part of a meal.)

Really, nobody needs soda on a regular basis.

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#75 of 76 Old 04-15-2010, 08:18 PM
 
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I'd like to see taxable food items not be purchasable with food stamps- currently those can be purchased with food stamps but then tax isn't charged. It wouldn't be too complicated to cut out soda and candy from the Food Stamps list, without affecting cookies or cakes or muffins (which people can and do fill up on and many consider to be a snack or a part of a meal.)

Really, nobody needs soda on a regular basis.
Different states tax different things. Some states tax all food, some tax them at different rates, some don't tax food at all. I can see it on a state by state basis, but not how it could be applied across the board nationwide.

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#76 of 76 Old 04-16-2010, 02:24 PM
 
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I'd like to see taxable food items not be purchasable with food stamps- currently those can be purchased with food stamps but then tax isn't charged. It wouldn't be too complicated to cut out soda and candy from the Food Stamps list, without affecting cookies or cakes or muffins (which people can and do fill up on and many consider to be a snack or a part of a meal.)

Really, nobody needs soda on a regular basis.
I do. I've got pretty severe ADHD and the caffeine in diet soda helps when my medication isn't in the budget. It's not something that my kids drink but for me, it's essential.
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