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NPR: See How Food Stamp Cuts Are Hitting Across The U.S.

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Melanie Wong Nov 18, 2013 12:50 AM

"Interestingly, Stateline's map shows how cold, hard numbers can also serve to humanize the problem. For instance, as the map shows, in Oregon, 304,000 kids and 159,000 elderly people and those with disabilities have seen their benefits cut."

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/11/17/245487636/see-how-food-stamp-cuts-are-hitting-across-the-u-s

(and this is the actual interactive map,
http://public.tableausoftware.com/vie... )

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  1. c
    cwdonald Nov 18, 2013 07:00 AM

    The benefits were not cut. The benefits were returned to 2009 levels after a temporary increase in benefits to help with the economic downturn.

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    1. re: cwdonald
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      HillJ Nov 18, 2013 07:29 AM

      Does returning to 2009 levels mean families are getting less food stamp benefits in 2013 and going forward? It does in NJ.

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      1. re: HillJ
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        cwdonald Nov 18, 2013 08:04 AM

        As it should as Congress intended for the increase to be temporary. The economy is improving, and the goal is to allow the program to return to pre recession levels. There was nothing wrong with the increase, and there is nothing wrong with returning it to its previous levels.

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        1. re: cwdonald
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          HillJ Nov 18, 2013 08:21 AM

          I think if you take a look at the entire cost of living, not only the importance of being able to eat properly each day, this recent decision (to turn back) is worthless to a family on assistance facing hardships in many areas of their lives.

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          1. re: HillJ
            c
            cwdonald Nov 18, 2013 08:39 AM

            inflation overall has been low. If we want SNAP to be useful to the people as a temporary help, it is key not to make the benefit too big.

            If your agenda is to use it as a secret tax for wealth transfer of course you would want to double or triple the benefit.

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            1. re: cwdonald
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              HillJ Nov 18, 2013 08:43 AM

              I have zero agenda. And my voice is no longer on the payroll cwd. I want families to not struggle over eating properly if the ONLY issue is financial.

              Inflation is not low if you are struggling. Come on.

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              1. re: cwdonald
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                Pookipichu Nov 18, 2013 08:56 AM

                Inflation is not low in relation to a working-class family or indigent family's income and expenditures, or a fixed income senior citizen or disabled veteran. Inflation is low if you have the money to buy a house, flatscreen TV, computer, car, Iphone... but not with regard to food or rent.

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                1. re: Pookipichu
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                  HillJ Nov 18, 2013 08:59 AM

                  Now see, I was willing to say that inflation could be considered low if you don't need assistance.

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                  1. re: HillJ
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                    Pookipichu Nov 18, 2013 09:00 AM

                    My reply was to CWdonald, I was agreeing with you.

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                    1. re: Pookipichu
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                      HillJ Nov 18, 2013 09:03 AM

                      I realize that and I was in agreement with your point as well. Honestly, I don't understand what benefit there is to accepting this fed decision. These folks close down government, still collect a pay check and they are the ones deciding if a six year old can eat steak?

                      Give me a break!! Frustration.

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                      1. re: HillJ
                        c
                        cwdonald Nov 18, 2013 09:07 AM

                        The question I would argue needs to be reframed. Not to the Feds are cutting food stamps, but how big SHOULD the food stamp benefit be. Unfortunately I think things are getting mixed up. People repeatedly fail to mention that Congress's intent was to temporarily increase food stamps due to the economic climate, which has improved substantially over the four years. And when Congress returns the benefit to the previous level people are screaming bloody murder. For once I would like to see someone say.. food stamp benefit should be x dollars for y months for people in such and such a situation. Large portions of people on SNAP are either children or elderly on fixed income. These people deserved to be treated differently than people of working age. I just think the conversation needs to be framed differently, and I think you will find a much different response from people.

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                        1. re: cwdonald
                          h
                          HillJ Nov 18, 2013 09:10 AM

                          I agree. The system is flawed state to state in diff areas. And the one size fits all response from Congress is maddening.

                          People working at the local level, people taking it upon themselves to be the glue are not accounted for either. Grants would change if all inkind support was included/documented. The answer lies in brighter minds.

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                          1. re: cwdonald
                            ennuisans Nov 18, 2013 09:30 AM

                            It needs to be enough money to feed people adequately. The reason people are "screaming bloody murder" is that the amount people received for food stamps was inadequate both before and during the stimulus, and while the SNAP may be going back to 2008 levels, food prices are not.

                            For the largest part, however, we are not talking about temporary help. For the people displaced by unemployment perhaps, but as you say, the vast majority of recipients are either on fixed incomes through social security or are the working poor who don't earn enough to feed their families without help. That population is only going to get larger as time goes on as wages shrink vs the cost of living (as they have done for decades).

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                            1. re: cwdonald
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                              Chowrin Nov 18, 2013 05:34 PM

                              cw,
                              interested to hear what you think someone should get from snap.

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                              1. re: Chowrin
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                                Tom34 Nov 19, 2013 04:50 AM

                                Please remember that money the government gives to one person is money the government TOOK from another person and it seems quite rational that the folks who the money is taken from should be just as entitled to an opinion as those receiving the money.

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                                1. re: Tom34
                                  h
                                  HillJ Nov 19, 2013 05:06 AM

                                  Sure, opinion. It's the judgement that gets ridiculous. When there are people working who still need a food bank, soup kitchens, SNAP while paying taxes, then they have an 'opinion' too.

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                            2. re: HillJ
                              ChefJune Nov 18, 2013 09:55 AM

                              <if a six year old can eat steak?>

                              more like if a six-year-old can eat, period.

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                              1. re: ChefJune
                                h
                                HillJ Nov 18, 2013 09:56 AM

                                I wonder how many families share ONE steak.

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                      2. re: cwdonald
                        c
                        Chowrin Nov 18, 2013 05:33 PM

                        Ok. Post some recipes (start a new thread). $1.40 per meal.
                        Make 'em healthy. ;-)

                        [yes, I'm being nice and letting you use CA subsidized prices. mine are high around here]

                        ... i live on less than that (feeding two. then again, i shop at costco).

                        I see tons of WASPy middle class suburban moms at my TJ's using their SNAP. (this is not to say that they're not entitled, just... I wish they could walk to their own stores, rather than waste the gas).

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                        1. re: Chowrin
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                          HillJ Nov 18, 2013 05:42 PM

                          Chowrin, I'm not picking on you but you struck a cord with these statements.

                          Would you want your employer to dictate how you spent your paycheck on food? I know this is a stretch but a friend of mine was just remarking how discussions about assistance programs always (or usually) lead to how people should spend the $. I'm not talking about misuse.

                          I mean SNAP has an extensive website, filled with recipes, shopping suggestions and so forth. But how many people have access to the Internet at $14K a year or know the website is avail for many worthwhile uses in budgeting their food dollars.

                          Do we, who sometimes sit back in judgement of these programs, have the right to dictate how families spend the money? The funds have restrictions. They can't be used everywhere on everything. The funds don't address all the needs a family has on a weekly basis.

                          I wouldn't want someone on line at TJ's telling me to go walk to another shop when they notice how I'm paying. That's too much.

                          So with all due respect, what gives?

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                          1. re: HillJ
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                            treb Nov 18, 2013 06:16 PM

                            One significant difference is that SNAP funds are 'our' tax dollars and not earned income. While you or I can frequent TJ's with the net of our earned income, I would hope SNAP recipients shop much more carefully and wisely on our tax dollars.

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                            1. re: treb
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                              Chowrin Nov 18, 2013 06:26 PM

                              treb,
                              tj's is still a discount grocer, same as aldi's. I'd FAR rather see someone go there rather than buying a sammich at the local deli (dat gets pricy in a real hurry, if you know what i mean)

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                              1. re: treb
                                h
                                HillJ Nov 18, 2013 06:26 PM

                                I expected to hear that it's our money. Not an uncommon reply.

                                Well, it's always going to be our money when it comes to government programs. And maybe one day you'll need or I'll need help, or a member of our family might. Taxes for the greater good (knowing nothing is perfect) gets my dollars willingly. As for hoping people are smarter with their SNAP dollars, that's too BIG brother for the average citizen (which I am) for me. I am not at all comfortable telling a person on a food line what they should buy with SNAP unless they ask me. Dignity is free.

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                                1. re: HillJ
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                                  treb Nov 19, 2013 07:10 AM

                                  I do think there should be guidelines for what are acceptable food groups for purchase. I am quite comfortable advising a person on what is acceptable and what is not, if there are no rules most would just spend the funds on junk food. It can be done in a dignified way.

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                                  1. re: treb
                                    h
                                    HillJ Nov 19, 2013 07:15 AM

                                    treb, there are guidelines.

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                                    1. re: HillJ
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                                      treb Nov 19, 2013 07:15 AM

                                      But do states enforce them, that's the real issue.

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                                      1. re: treb
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                                        HillJ Nov 19, 2013 07:19 AM

                                        Like all things, education, enforcement, followup and re-eval are parts in the chain that require training and training the trainer. And like too many things, there's room for error and human nature in every step of that chain.

                                        So we can point out very easily a large flaw and will still need to count on individuals dealing with individual home turf to implement programs.

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                                        1. re: treb
                                          Veggo Nov 19, 2013 07:19 AM

                                          Enforcement costs and has layers of controversy. More enforcement, fewer food stamps. Depends how you want to deal the deck with a fixed budget.

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                                          1. re: Veggo
                                            h
                                            HillJ Nov 19, 2013 07:21 AM

                                            and Veggo is most def. correct the budgets earmarked for these programs are equally flawed. So, why take it out on the family?

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                                            1. re: Veggo
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                                              treb Nov 19, 2013 07:23 AM

                                              And less enforcement means more fraud, which IMO, is stealing from those who need it and us as well.

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                                              1. re: Veggo
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                                                Tom34 Nov 19, 2013 07:50 AM

                                                With Computers, enforcement measures would be vastly improved by using a credit card type system where purchases are tracked automatically and the technology to do it has existed for years. If Credit Card companies can analyse millions of transactions a second to detect fraudulent purchasing patterns and alert account holders within minutes, a similar program could easily be put in place for government assistance programs which would control what could be purchased and easily recognize spending patterns consistent with fraud and send up red flags for investigators who could shut off the card within seconds. To argue otherwise is nonsense.

                                                Programs that simply distribute cash or the equivalent have about the same level of accountability as driving down the road and throwing bundles of cash out the window.

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                                                1. re: Tom34
                                                  coll Nov 19, 2013 08:28 AM

                                                  They do (at least in NY). See my link below, that is how they caught a local store using EBTs fraudulently. Can't say they don't have their eyes out. I see a USDA tshirt in the photo of the arrest, but it is the state that is prosecuting.

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                                                  1. re: Tom34
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                                                    Chowrin Nov 19, 2013 08:31 AM

                                                    well now! you've had your credit card revoked by AMEX for buying too much liquor? bully for you.

                                                    Drunken sod. Must have lost your job or somethin', huh?

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                                                    1. re: Tom34
                                                      Veggo Nov 19, 2013 08:35 AM

                                                      I question whether it would be fair to require small retailers to purchase and install expensive equipment for this purpose.

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                                                      1. re: Tom34
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                                                        sedimental Nov 19, 2013 08:49 AM

                                                        EBT cards are used in all 50 states.

                                                        Most people don't understand the system and think there is a bunch of unmanaged cash going to undeserving people that are lazy. Criminals DO abuse it, however, criminals come in all outfits...sometimes suits.

                                                        People are not given random cash to spend on whatever they like. But, some special conditions qualify you for a cash allowance on an EBT card -like not being able to work due to a disability, just being poor due to being unemployed or underemployed doesn't qualify you.

                                                        Food stamp " allowance" is put on an EBT card and when used at a store, the non approved items (toilet paper and soap) are kicked out of the tally and other method of payment is used.

                                                        The other method might be cash benefit that may also be loaded monthly on the EBT card. Cash benefit allowance can be used like cash for anything. It is not much (approx 300 per month, temporary money, if you qualify in most states) and that is all you get to pay for things like rent,utilities,transportation...ummm....life. That whopping 300 per month "cash" is for people claiming disability, not just poverty.

                                                        The old " long term welfare system for lazy asses" has been done away with. I get frustrated when I hear educated politicians talk about benefit programs like once existed in the 1970 s......they are long gone and they should know better.

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                                                        1. re: sedimental
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                                                          Tom34 Nov 19, 2013 10:59 AM

                                                          Some of the programs you mention are by EBT card and some are not. Some have very tight restrictions on qualifying purchases, some do not. None of them seem to be very good at analyzing fraudulent purchasing habits such as bulk buying of products that are readily accepted as payment to corner drug dealers for dope. On the other hand, drug dealers and liquor stores have studied the programs and know exactly when to stock up. My point is every assistance program has to be linked to close the holes both for the good of those truly deserving of the benefits and out of fairness for those picking up the tab.

                                                          Incidentally, one of the fasted growing SS disability populations are people diagnosed with mental illness caused by years of street drug use. In most cases the recipients got started in drugs early in life and contributed little if anything into the SS system but collect for a lifetime. To bad for the hardworking young people footing the bill.

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                                                          1. re: Tom34
                                                            linguafood Nov 19, 2013 11:08 AM

                                                            That's very interesting. Could you provide a recent statistic regarding your last paragraph?

                                                            I'm just curious as there are very few drugs that can possibly *trigger* a mental illness (endogenic, meaning the predisposition was already there), and childhood abuse and life circumstances (like being homeless -- thanks, Reagan!) are important contributing factors to mental illness.

                                                            So, could you link to a source? Thanks!!

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                                                            1. re: linguafood
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                                                              Tom34 Nov 19, 2013 11:50 AM

                                                              Drug abuse by itself is not a qualifying reason but the long term effects of drug abuse (excessive Dopamine as its relates to Psychosis & Schizophrenia) are. There have been many, many articles written about SSI abuse. A recent one that comes to mind was in Forbes this year. I am not going to recite what you are free to research and read for yourself.

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                                                              1. re: Tom34
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                                                                Chowrin Nov 19, 2013 12:18 PM

                                                                Every time you take away benefits, people find a new loophole.
                                                                You could try a novel idea, and just give them the money you can afford. Don't police.

                                                                What the hell are they going to do? Say 10% more people wind up being cheaters. Well, maybe that's 50% fewer people selling illegal watermelons. Izzit good? I dunno. But if you ain't taxing watermelons, something's wrong, agree?

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                                                            2. re: Tom34
                                                              c
                                                              Chowrin Nov 19, 2013 11:17 AM

                                                              Tom,
                                                              What's wrong with them buying alcohol with food stamps?
                                                              It's caloric -- and Fun!

                                                              (obviously, i'm against starving kids to get drunk...
                                                              but that's far less of a problem than it used to be).

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                                                              1. re: Chowrin
                                                                t
                                                                Tom34 Nov 19, 2013 03:17 PM

                                                                My problem is that the extremely rich saw the handwriting on the wall many years ago and moved a sufficient portion of their wealth into things a devalued dollar won't effect (may actually increase their wealth) and to places the Government can't reach. The real victim's in this financial folly will be the folks who spent a lifetime working hard and who lived beneath their means and did without in order to put money away for retirement. The next group of victim's will be the younger generation who will see ever increasing payroll deductions for SS but will only see a fraction of what they were promised, nor will they be able to save for retirement on their own because of ever increasing taxes to support an increasing population of non self sufficient people. Things have to change Chowrin.

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                                                        2. re: Veggo
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                                                          saltylady Nov 19, 2013 01:15 PM

                                                          How much do you think People on food stamps are given ? I have seen people get as little as $10.00 per month and they complain they can only buy maybe a chicken and some milk with that . Food stamps are on a sliding scale based on income .Of course there are cheaters but most people on food stamps are elderly and disabled people or out of work people .
                                                          And they are subject to yearly reviews ofiincome and living arrangements . If Grandpa buys milk with his snap and then sells it for beer should he be prosecuted? There is liitle room for frills in the average snap recipients budget.

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                                                          1. re: saltylady
                                                            Veggo Nov 19, 2013 01:26 PM

                                                            An average family of 4 in the SNAP program now receives $420 monthly in food stamps, $36 less that previously.
                                                            The beer swilling grandpa should not be prosecuted for choices that may hasten his demise. That is his unalienable right.

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                                                            1. re: Veggo
                                                              k
                                                              KailuaGirl Nov 20, 2013 05:04 PM

                                                              SNAP benefits vary wildly state to state. There is no such thing as an "average family of 4" - each state is different, and benefits are awarded based on income.

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                                                              1. re: KailuaGirl
                                                                Veggo Nov 20, 2013 05:10 PM

                                                                I get it. Average means some are higher and others are lower. I won't go into means, modes, and medians here. Average can be a suitably descriptive term.

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                                                            2. re: saltylady
                                                              sandiasingh Nov 19, 2013 01:53 PM

                                                              A friend of a friend has a husband who has Alzheimers and is in a hospice. The wife had to undergo humiliating, insulting meeting after meeting, a home visit and a visit to the expiring husband in the hospice before they got approved for food stamps. Net monthly allowance: $139.

                                                              The doctors told them the Alzheimers was caused by exposure to Agent Orange.

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                                                              1. re: sandiasingh
                                                                coll Nov 19, 2013 01:59 PM

                                                                She should have went to the VA, there is a substantial pension for that. Been there, done that.

                                                                http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensati...

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                                                          2. re: treb
                                                            juliejulez Nov 19, 2013 02:23 PM

                                                            I worked in a grocery store years ago... late 90s. If someone tried to buy a non-accepted item with food stamps, it would give me two totals... one that they could pay with food stamps, and the other that they had to pay with cash. I couldn't use food stamps for the non-accepted items even if I tried (well I could but then my till would be off). I imagine most grocery stores still have the same set-ups... especially since 99% of groceries use computerized registers now.

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                                                        3. re: treb
                                                          coll Nov 19, 2013 07:28 AM

                                                          It IS done in a "dignified" way. They are very specific about what is allowed and what is not. You check out at the register, if it's not allowed as part of the food stamp program, it comes up on the bottom as money still due, and you pay yourself. I think a lot of this thread shows how misunderstood this whole program is, more than anything else. A lot of conjecture with no real facts.

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                                                          1. re: coll
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                                                            treb Nov 19, 2013 07:31 AM

                                                            'They are very specific about what is allowed and what is not.' Not in MA, there you can get cash from your card and but what you want. MA govt is totally pathetic.

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                                                            1. re: treb
                                                              coll Nov 19, 2013 07:37 AM

                                                              Oh OK I didn't know that, here in NY it's very cut and dried. There is a "cash" card too, but not the same as food stamp card. Don't know what that's all about. WIC maybe?

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                                                              1. re: coll
                                                                k
                                                                Kontxesi Nov 20, 2013 04:12 AM

                                                                I don't think that's WIC. TANF, maybe. Here in VA, WIC seems to come in the form of check-looking things with what you can get with it very clearly spelled out.

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                                                              2. re: treb
                                                                Kat Nov 19, 2013 11:25 AM

                                                                Are you talking about cash assistance or SNAP benefits, which require an EBT card? They are two different things. I am in MA and have several disabled clients who have EBT cards for their SNAP benefits. When I take them shopping, they need to pay out of pocket for things like toilet paper, shampoo, etc. because the EBT card will not accept those items.

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                                                                1. re: treb
                                                                  Cherylptw Nov 19, 2013 06:14 PM

                                                                  If you are allowed a cash benefit along with SNAP (food benefits) then you are allowed to use that said cash for rent, bills or whatever you want. You get no cash back from SNAP food benefits. Your benefit identification card has both cash and/or SNAP on it if you qualify.

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                                                                  1. re: treb
                                                                    k
                                                                    KailuaGirl Nov 20, 2013 05:10 PM

                                                                    Many states also load cash assistance onto the EBT cards. The non-food items are taken out of the cash portion of the recipient's monthly benefit. That's what accounts for all these allegations of people buying smokes and booze with SNAP. The cash benefit, if any, also pays for soap, feminine hygiene supplies, toilet paper, shampoo, laundry detergent, deodorant, and other items we take for granted unless we're really poor. Also rent, utilities, transportation, phone, shoes and clothing.

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                                                                2. re: treb
                                                                  Cherylptw Nov 19, 2013 06:06 PM

                                                                  I'm sorry but I don't care if it is your tax dollars funding the food assistance program; you have no idea if the person spending those benefits contributed tax dollars at any time they ever had a job or not. And if they ever had a job, it makes it THEIR tax dollars. I wonder how many people have ever considered that little jewel?

                                                                  The government already has a guideline as to what SNAP recipents can & cannot buy. So who are you to advise anyone what they should buy? Is there a food police following you around, telling you what you should buy?

                                                                  If people are approved for SNAP and they buy junk, then they just buy junk but forcing someone to buy what you think they should buy is not going to make them eat your choice. Force someone to buy items they don't like and see how much tax dollars end up in the trash. Then people who have that "I have a right to tell other people what to do with MY tax dollars" mentality will have something else to complain about.

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                                                                  1. re: Cherylptw
                                                                    coll Nov 19, 2013 06:11 PM

                                                                    Another thing with what people call "junk" food...for seniors that have lost their appetite and/or tastebuds, and are constantly dehydrated due to little interest in liquids: Who cares what they eat or drink, as long as it's something. When it's cookies, ice cream and soda, or starvation, the choice is easy (after awhile, anyway). Someday you may have to find this out the hard way yourself.

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                                                                    1. re: coll
                                                                      Cherylptw Nov 19, 2013 11:42 PM

                                                                      I should have been clear in that I was referring to Treb's calling of certain foods junk....I don't normally refer to any foods as junk. To each his own...and I agree with you completely

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                                                                      1. re: coll
                                                                        coll Nov 20, 2013 05:28 AM

                                                                        Oh no, I know that you and I are on the same page! I was just reinforcing what you said. Sorry for the mix up with names.

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                                                                        1. re: coll
                                                                          s
                                                                          saltylady Nov 20, 2013 04:32 PM

                                                                          Yes . For instance i know someone who was not on food stamps who had esophogeal cancer . The only thing she could eat were pureed foods and shakes plus things like boost and ensure . She was withering away to nothing . The doctor said at this point dont even worry about what she is eating just get calories in her . Let me tell you , when ever she asked for a milkshake from Carvel , she got it. . The last picture i have of her she is drinking a milk shake .with her grandchild .
                                                                          Some people have lead very sheltered lives and do not understand human suffering at all ..

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                                                                          1. re: saltylady
                                                                            h
                                                                            HillJ Nov 20, 2013 04:38 PM

                                                                            Oh those folks suffer too. Their disease is referred to as: Empathy deficit disorder. Tons of papers on this not so rare affliction. Maybe we can get the Fed to fund programs for those who need recovery? Or better yet, maybe the Fed should attend EDD workshops.

                                                                            http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/t...

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                                                                            1. re: HillJ
                                                                              sandiasingh Nov 20, 2013 04:57 PM

                                                                              Excellent article and this was three years ago. The world has changed so much since then.

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                                                                              1. re: sandiasingh
                                                                                h
                                                                                HillJ Nov 20, 2013 05:09 PM

                                                                                I'm not sure I understand what you mean but here's an article from 2013. Including the video:
                                                                                http://www.theguardian.com/science/20...

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                                                                  2. re: treb
                                                                    h
                                                                    HillJ Nov 18, 2013 06:27 PM

                                                                    treb, what about folks who lose their jobs or fall on hard times after years of working. They paid taxes during that time. Do they deserve to be free of such scrutiny when they need help?

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                                                                    1. re: HillJ
                                                                      linguafood Nov 18, 2013 07:15 PM

                                                                      This. Whenever I hear someone complain about how "The Poor" -- some faceless mass, of course -- are just a bunch of lazy leeches demanding the CRAZY awesome benefits to which they're 'entitled', and that very few of us could live on without some *serious* adjustments, I hope they lose their job. Tomorrow. I hope they break really, really, *really* bad.

                                                                      And that they have to LIVE that fucking life for a few years, and then come back and tell everyone how great it is to be abusing *our* tax dollars for such petty things as bread and milk.

                                                                      I am betting they would find it pretty damn difficult, for example, to make plans for indulging in gourmet chocolates, expensive imported cheeses, and fine wines for the near future.

                                                                      If the tax system in this country weren't rigged to the max in order to benefit 1% of the population while pretty much fucking everyone else in the ass, *everybody* could live and eat and work under dignified conditions.

                                                                      We'd likely need less food stamps, too, if people were paid a living wage.

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                                                                      1. re: linguafood
                                                                        k
                                                                        Kontxesi Nov 20, 2013 04:16 AM

                                                                        I once asked my boss if he had considered accepting food stamps. He went on a mini-rant about how it would be a waste of time because "those people" don't understand the local food movement and aren't interested in fresh produce.

                                                                        At the time, we were on food stamps because my boyfriend had been injured on the job and was unable to work.

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                                                                        1. re: Kontxesi
                                                                          coll Nov 20, 2013 05:30 AM

                                                                          All our local farmers' markets accept food stamps. You give them a set amount, and they give you token coins, which you can use at any booth. Believe me, seniors are as interested in local food as anyone else!

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                                                                          1. re: coll
                                                                            k
                                                                            Kontxesi Nov 20, 2013 09:18 AM

                                                                            Absolutely. Our farmers' market does that, too, and they were also matching it dollar-for-dollar. So for $10 of my food stamps, I got $20 in tokens. It was really helpful.

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                                                                            1. re: Kontxesi
                                                                              coll Nov 20, 2013 09:40 AM

                                                                              Yeah I forgot, it was also covered 50/50. Great incentive!

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                                                                            2. re: coll
                                                                              k
                                                                              KailuaGirl Nov 20, 2013 05:20 PM

                                                                              Unfortunately not all farmers' markets are able to afford the machines necessary to dispense tokens for their produce. Some areas with large poverty populations are frequently those most underserved. The people are pretty much a captive audience unless they can afford to travel long distances for greater choices and better prices.

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                                                                              1. re: KailuaGirl
                                                                                coll Nov 20, 2013 06:53 PM

                                                                                Which is why I stay here, despite financial disadvantages sometimes.

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                                                                            3. re: Kontxesi
                                                                              sandiasingh Nov 20, 2013 09:35 AM

                                                                              That's why I was so incensed when I mentioned this to our local food pantry coordinator and she told me her clients "could care less about what they eat."

                                                                              That kind of attitude in that business is unacceptable.

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                                                                            4. re: linguafood
                                                                              k
                                                                              KailuaGirl Nov 20, 2013 05:16 PM

                                                                              + 100

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                                                                            5. re: HillJ
                                                                              t
                                                                              treb Nov 19, 2013 07:11 AM

                                                                              If they need help there should be guidelines for applying etc. If they're in need of help they will not be denied. Simple, clean and honest.

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                                                                              1. re: treb
                                                                                sandiasingh Nov 20, 2013 09:36 AM

                                                                                Our local food pantry has very strict guidelines for proof of residence, income, family members, etc.

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                                                                            6. re: treb
                                                                              clepro Nov 19, 2013 08:42 AM

                                                                              One of the problems is access. I too would hope and prefer SNAP recipients shop wisely, both for their sakes and for all taxpayers (which, do not forget, many SNAP recipients are also). I am not fool enough to imagine that everyone who receives SNAP shops wisely. However, it's just as unwise to neglect the barriers that can make that "wise shopping" very difficult if not impossible. Easy for us with our cars and our time and well-stocked grocery stores, and our ability to stockpile and select and feed our hungers however we may choose to sit back and chide; not always possible to do the same in different circumstances.

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                                                                              1. re: treb
                                                                                JonParker Nov 19, 2013 10:55 PM

                                                                                They aren't "your" tax dollars. They are the price you pay to live in this society. If you object, you're free to leave.

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                                                                                1. re: JonParker
                                                                                  t
                                                                                  Tom34 Nov 20, 2013 05:34 AM

                                                                                  You can call them what ever you like but the fact is the Government doesn't produce wealth, it TAKES it from hardworking people who do.

                                                                                  The entire infrastructure of this Country which you use everyday was build with the labor and money produced by previous generations most of whom led very simple humble lives with a fraction of the comforts you enjoy.

                                                                                  Previous generation didn't have an entitlement attitude and sit around and whine like a baby who dropped their binky every time something didn't go their way. They got up, took any job they could find, were grateful to get it and at the end of the week they had 6 more calluses on their hands. When someone helped them they said THANK YOU and paid them back with labor or cash!

                                                                                  Your living in the Country they built and defended. If you can't find it in your self to be grateful, you should at least exercise self control and curb your comments.

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                                                                                  1. re: Tom34
                                                                                    coll Nov 20, 2013 05:39 AM

                                                                                    You're talking here of people who are strong and healthy. So when they get old and/or handicapped, should we euthanize them all? Or should we do the "it takes a village" approach?

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                                                                                    1. re: coll
                                                                                      t
                                                                                      Tom34 Nov 20, 2013 10:26 AM

                                                                                      Honestly Coll, neither I nor anyone else have even remotely suggested anything of the sort. What I and others have put out there is the hard core truth that has been reported in just about every financial publication in the US and even European publications like the Economist......specifically, that the total cost of public assistance programs afforded working age people in the US is not sustainable. Go to Forbes 2013 for a detailed account.

                                                                                      In addition, while Government auditing performed by current government employees who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo report little in the way of fraud, retired employees have come forward with fraud estimates that are staggering as have investigations by private think tanks.

                                                                                      What I and others have said is that the entire system has to be re-evaluated from the top down and re-worked to ensure those truly deserving get what they need and those who can go out and work do so and are "then" afforded assistance. Please read the Forbes article.

                                                                                      Oh, BTW, there have also been several articles detailing the loss of tax revenue as well as business expertise as a result of JON's advice, " If you don't like it, your free to leave." Apparently a frighteningly large number of people have taken his advice.

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                                                                                      1. re: Tom34
                                                                                        ennuisans Nov 20, 2013 10:39 AM

                                                                                        "... while Government auditing performed by current government employees who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo report little in the way of fraud..."

                                                                                        http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style...

                                                                                        It's easy to make claims like yours when you don't want to see what is actually happening. I'm not a huge Obama fan but from the beginning he has cracked down on systemic fraud. Pretending that government workers are somehow complicit in fraud does not help your case at all.

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                                                                                        1. re: Tom34
                                                                                          coll Nov 20, 2013 10:49 AM

                                                                                          Let them figure out Affordable Care first, then maybe they can take a crack at it ;-)

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                                                                                          1. re: Tom34
                                                                                            Veggo Nov 20, 2013 11:01 AM

                                                                                            A recent Forbes article factored poverty reduction programs into the mix and concluded that the poverty rate in the US is effectively zero. I did not agree with all of the article.
                                                                                            IMO, Forbes has a bias toward making rich folks feel comfy.

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                                                                                            1. re: Veggo
                                                                                              sandiasingh Nov 20, 2013 11:21 AM

                                                                                              You mean they think there is zero poverty in this country? Are they tripping?

                                                                                              It is Forbes, so I should not be surprised.

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                                                                                            2. re: Tom34
                                                                                              c
                                                                                              cwdonald Nov 20, 2013 11:45 AM

                                                                                              Tom what is the point at which it is not sustainable? Specific percentage of gmp? Assuming a certain tax rate?

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                                                                                              1. re: Tom34
                                                                                                h
                                                                                                HillJ Nov 20, 2013 12:41 PM

                                                                                                http://scienceblogs.com/casaubonsbook...

                                                                                                Rather than read Forbes, why not read this. And don't skim over the comments below Sharon's article.

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                                                                                                1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                  sandiasingh Nov 20, 2013 01:23 PM

                                                                                                  I read this earlier today from another post on CH but the comments here are quite compelling. My heart goes out to folks who have to struggle so much just to survive.

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                                                                                                  1. re: sandiasingh
                                                                                                    h
                                                                                                    HillJ Nov 20, 2013 01:34 PM

                                                                                                    Me too and because the CH didn't post it here, I thought I would. I find the information valuable to this discussion and at least let's add some concrete life experiences to the use of quotes and articles coming out of Forbes magazine.

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                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                      sandiasingh Nov 20, 2013 01:58 PM

                                                                                                      I agree wholeheartedly with the writer and also agree with the commenter who said at least the politicians going thru this exercise are trying to bring some focus to the issue and maybe have a slightly better understanding of just how impossible the situation is for people. I can't imagine.

                                                                                                      And I really appreciated the comments by the woman who encouraged people to occasionally donate some special treats that people on foodstamps just can't get. I will definitely do that for our local food pantry.

                                                                                                      Thanks for posting.

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                                                                                                    2. re: sandiasingh
                                                                                                      k
                                                                                                      KailuaGirl Nov 20, 2013 05:26 PM

                                                                                                      So did I.

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                                                                                              2. re: Tom34
                                                                                                h
                                                                                                HillJ Nov 20, 2013 05:45 AM

                                                                                                Then Tom34, defend those folks many who are in their last years trying to put food on their tables. How can you say all of that and still find fault with food assistance programs. Those folks worked hard their whole lives and now rec a check each month that doesn't cover all their expenses. If I follow your logic, these folks are draining the system and no longer contributing to it.

                                                                                                Your comments have been equally strong so please the "floor" of this thread is not dictated by any one point of view.

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                                                                                                1. re: Tom34
                                                                                                  clepro Nov 20, 2013 08:33 AM

                                                                                                  Yes. Previous generations, the people who helped establish social security and medicare, who built powerful labor unions, who fought in the streets over politics, who engaged in labor unrest, who lived with upheavals caused by economic unrest, who were a motley crew including radicals and visionaries of all stripes, somehow also are the same people in this simplistic, sentimental image you have of people who took any job they could find, kept their mouths shut, expected nothing, and would never never never expect help from any quarter but be immensely and virtuously grateful if any were doled out.

                                                                                                  You might want to read a little public welfare history, labor union history or heck, just any kind of history, and fill out that picture you're painting a little bit.

                                                                                                  For instance, maybe start with good old Thomas Paine and his Agrarian Justice (1795). A pamphlet, not a book, so a quick read: http://www.constitution.org/tp/agjust...

                                                                                                  Here's something interesting he had to say:

                                                                                                  "Personal property is the effect of society; and it is as impossible for an individual to acquire personal property without the aid of society, as it is for him to make land originally. Separate an individual from society, and give him an island or a continent to possess, and he cannot acquire personal property. He cannot be rich. So inseparably are the means connected with the end, in all cases, that where the former do not exist the latter cannot be obtained. All accumulation, therefore, of personal property, beyond what a man’s own hands produce, is derived to him by living in society; and he owes on every principle of justice, of gratitude, and of civilization, a part of that accumulation back again to society from whence the whole came."

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                                                                                                  1. re: Tom34
                                                                                                    clepro Nov 20, 2013 08:37 AM

                                                                                                    Also, this infrastructure you're talking about? Did the government not play a role in its development?

                                                                                                    The government is not necessarily just an entity apart from us that TAKES. It is also the way in which we collectively act.

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                                                                                                    1. re: clepro
                                                                                                      sandiasingh Nov 20, 2013 08:54 AM

                                                                                                      Thank you, ciepro and HillJ. Well said. I am one of those Tom refers to as, I am sure, many of us are. We have worked our whole lives following the straight and narrow, doing what middle class hard working people do and planned well ahead for our future only to be in the situation now that we are all facing. A safety net that has huge tears and knots in it--that we paid for, by the way--and uncertainty every day.

                                                                                                      My remedy for stress over all of these issues we are discussing is to cook. I cook and cook and cook. Most of the time I cook and share. It gives my life structure and me a sense of accomplishment. It eases the worry and has
                                                                                                      taught us to enjoy the small things in life.

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                                                                                                    2. re: Tom34
                                                                                                      c
                                                                                                      Chowrin Nov 20, 2013 07:18 PM

                                                                                                      EnergyStar produced tons of wealth.
                                                                                                      So too did the green revolution
                                                                                                      (brought to you by american tax dollars and cow colleges!)

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                                                                                                2. re: HillJ
                                                                                                  c
                                                                                                  Chowrin Nov 18, 2013 06:28 PM

                                                                                                  1) employer dictate how I eat? they do that already (granted, it's mostly in their cafeteria and their vending machines...)

                                                                                                  2) of course we don't. I don't mind giving people funds without restrictions, honestly. we worry too much about peanuts and small change.

                                                                                                  3) I mind them nearly running me over in the parking lot, and having cars (which is part of the reason why they're in trouble in the first place. $6000 dollar a year hole in your pocket). I do not mind locals going to the local store, no matter how poor they are.

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                                                                                                  1. re: Chowrin
                                                                                                    h
                                                                                                    HillJ Nov 18, 2013 06:31 PM

                                                                                                    Chowrin, you're a fun CH. I enjoy the giggles but I think you know what I mean. Maybe?

                                                                                                    I try not to assume what lands folks in financial trouble. Who knows, one day it could be someone I love.

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                                                                                                    1. re: Chowrin
                                                                                                      k
                                                                                                      KailuaGirl Nov 20, 2013 05:33 PM

                                                                                                      Those people with cars, smart phones, nice clothing, etc. probably purchased them when they were in a better financial situation (like employed before they were downsized) or received them as gifts or hand me downs.

                                                                                                      Unless you are intimately familiar with someone's financial situation, don't judge. You could be next.

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                                                                                                      1. re: KailuaGirl
                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                        Chowrin Nov 20, 2013 07:19 PM

                                                                                                        How many months can you live on $6000 dollars?

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                                                                                                        1. re: Chowrin
                                                                                                          Veggo Nov 20, 2013 07:23 PM

                                                                                                          For me, somewhere between a really good weekend, and a desolate lonely winter....

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                                                                                                    2. re: HillJ
                                                                                                      t
                                                                                                      Tom34 Nov 19, 2013 04:57 AM

                                                                                                      "But how many people have access to the internet"

                                                                                                      Having volunteered at food banks my wife and kids would argue most urban recipients under 40 yrs old have internet access via their smart phones.

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                                                                                                      1. re: Tom34
                                                                                                        h
                                                                                                        HillJ Nov 19, 2013 05:04 AM

                                                                                                        I wonder what the stats are nationally for SNAP recipients owning cell phone plans. Free cell plans also exist if you fall under a certain salary and/or age.

                                                                                                        I wonder what the stats are on folks using the SNAP website since that is what I was referring to when I wrote "access" to the Internet, Tom34. One CH who was looking for assistance with meal planning while on SNAP had never heard of the site...and I'm not so sure that CH advice wasn't better for him anyway.

                                                                                                        Do you think large numbers of families are gathering around the computer at night accessing, reading and using the SNAP website in preparation for food shopping or picking up food from the food bank? Nah.

                                                                                                        But then again, most stats just piss me off.

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                                                                                                        1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                          t
                                                                                                          Tom34 Nov 19, 2013 05:58 AM

                                                                                                          I don't know Hill.....I just know the entire system has to be re-worked both for the benefit of those receiving the money and for those picking up the tab.

                                                                                                          IMHO, the free cell phone plans are a classic example of misusing money taken from someone else. Any charged cell phone "without" a plan will place a 911 call which will be picked buy by the nearest cell tower. Cheap prepaid cell phones with a limited # of minutes are also perfect for emergencies and many elderly people who for some reason don't feel the need to walk and talk have them.

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                                                                                                          1. re: Tom34
                                                                                                            h
                                                                                                            HillJ Nov 19, 2013 06:20 AM

                                                                                                            I don't know either Tom. I just know that my cozy life means I need to look beyond the tip of my own nose more often.

                                                                                                            Free cell phones in this day and age is one less expense for someone trying to cover other basics of life or as you say emergency needs. Non profit orgs that distribute second hand/refurbished phones on plans that only allow basic emergency service works for some people and for others it doesn't. The corporations behind cell phone service aren't crying poverty. The program is there for those who need it.

                                                                                                            When my Mother was still alive I was her caretaker the last three years. Some programs of assistance she qualified for but along with my siblings we worked out a schedule for most of her every day needs. Some aren't that lucky.

                                                                                                            So, we can go around this complicated topic forever (& probably will) but for me it comes down to individuals working hard to make ends meet..and sometimes they need help to live a quality of life many of us kinda take for granted.

                                                                                                            I try to appreciate the good fortune I'm afforded by being helpful to others.

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                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                              t
                                                                                                              Tom34 Nov 19, 2013 06:46 AM

                                                                                                              I don't think most people have an issue with temporarily helping those in need who are truly trying to help themselves. That was the initial intent of such programs.

                                                                                                              I will agree to disagree with free cell phone plans. Emergency 911 capabilities yes, chit chat on someone else's dime, no.

                                                                                                              Unfortunately, there are far too many people who have made it a way of life and the goose is quickly running out of golden eggs. If something isn't done, there will be a day when there are not enough eggs for those who are really deserving of them. Many economists are predicting that day is cometh right soon if we don't get our financial house in order.

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                                                                                                              1. re: Tom34
                                                                                                                h
                                                                                                                HillJ Nov 19, 2013 06:49 AM

                                                                                                                It is still the reason for such programs. We're just a larger nation with larger problems. Chit chat on someone else's dime happens when I see my FED Agent brother call his wife on the clock. So pls give me some credit for knowing that everyone uses the system they are in.

                                                                                                                I say we need to learn to share our eggs before we all wind up standing on the same chow line.

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                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                  t
                                                                                                                  Tom34 Nov 19, 2013 07:25 AM

                                                                                                                  Oh yes, there are most certainly abuses everywhere at every level but they fall outside the OP.

                                                                                                                  To me though, sharing implies a willingness to give and is very different from "taking". I very much like to share but I like to have a little input in the process.

                                                                                                                  I agree that in many cases we need to learn to share our eggs but I would argue that we are getting dangerously close to having more people consuming other peoples eggs than producing their own eggs & yes the chow lines could get very long if we continue down this path. "Greece"

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                                                                                                                2. re: Tom34
                                                                                                                  ennuisans Nov 19, 2013 08:59 AM

                                                                                                                  You know, if I came home and found my tv stolen, I'd look for someone running away with a television rather than accuse the guy talking about what he saw on Seinfeld last night.

                                                                                                                  Goose, golden eggs, whatever. It's silly to say taxpayers are broke because poor people have all our money. They aren't the problem.

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                                                                                                                  1. re: ennuisans
                                                                                                                    t
                                                                                                                    Tom34 Nov 19, 2013 03:29 PM

                                                                                                                    Mathematically speaking, when the number of people collecting a benefit come close to the number of people paying for that benefit it is a VERY REAL problem. If in doubt, ask the folks in Cyprus.

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                                                                                                                    1. re: Tom34
                                                                                                                      clepro Nov 19, 2013 03:41 PM

                                                                                                                      Indeed. Know what else is a problem? When mathematically speaking, a small percentage of a population captures an increasingly larger proportion of the wealth.

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                                                                                                                      1. re: clepro
                                                                                                                        Veggo Nov 19, 2013 03:47 PM

                                                                                                                        History shows that an impoverished, agitated majority poses significant risks and dangers to the wealthy few. The rich have a selfish incentive to avoid that disequilibrium.

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                                                                                                                        1. re: Veggo
                                                                                                                          t
                                                                                                                          Tom34 Nov 19, 2013 03:56 PM

                                                                                                                          Many would argue that the root cause for the dramatic increase in firearms purchased in recent years is in preparation for the civil disobedience that will follow financial collapse. Pretty scary.

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                                                                                                                          1. re: Tom34
                                                                                                                            Uncle Bob Nov 19, 2013 04:36 PM

                                                                                                                            ...and it will come

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                                                                                                                            1. re: Uncle Bob
                                                                                                                              t
                                                                                                                              Tom34 Nov 19, 2013 05:04 PM

                                                                                                                              Sure looking that way.

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                                                                                                                              1. re: Tom34
                                                                                                                                MrsPatmore Nov 19, 2013 05:08 PM

                                                                                                                                Is that why there are "doomsday preppers"? Just wondering.

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                                                                                                                                1. re: MrsPatmore
                                                                                                                                  Veggo Nov 19, 2013 05:14 PM

                                                                                                                                  They are parasitic profiteers, you are too smart to fall for their act.

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                                                                                                                                  1. re: MrsPatmore
                                                                                                                                    linguafood Nov 19, 2013 05:45 PM

                                                                                                                                    Yes. The world is coming to an end. Like, probably soon.

                                                                                                                                    Better stock up on duct tape and water :-D

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                                                                                                                                    1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                      Veggo Nov 19, 2013 05:49 PM

                                                                                                                                      And Cheetos.

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                                                                                                                                      1. re: Veggo
                                                                                                                                        h
                                                                                                                                        HillJ Nov 19, 2013 05:52 PM

                                                                                                                                        And comfy shoes...all that standing in line.

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                                                                                                                                        1. re: Veggo
                                                                                                                                          linguafood Nov 19, 2013 05:53 PM

                                                                                                                                          Ooooh, yes. Definitely cheetos. At least if you get tired of them, you can use them for insulation.

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                                                                                                                                          1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                            t
                                                                                                                                            Tom34 Nov 19, 2013 06:10 PM

                                                                                                                                            "Insulation" ......that's actually pretty clever :-)

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                                                                                                                                            1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                              Veggo Nov 19, 2013 06:21 PM

                                                                                                                                              And Cheetos are more recyclable than the styrofoam peanuts in holiday gift packages, you just eat them.

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                                                                                                                                        2. re: MrsPatmore
                                                                                                                                          t
                                                                                                                                          Tom34 Nov 19, 2013 06:06 PM

                                                                                                                                          The only reason the dollar hasn't collapsed as the worlds reserve currency is because there isn't anything better to replace it at the moment. That's a good thing but history suggests that the day will come when there is, and when it does, the dire consequences predicted by prominent economists are in fact very real.

                                                                                                                                          Just consider for a moment that oil is a critical component throughout the entire food chain starting with planting the seeds all the way through delivering the finished product to the supermarket. Then consider that the only reason oil costs about a $100.00 a barrel is because the dollar is the worlds reserve currency and oil is traded in US dollars. Keep devaluing the dollar and at the same time have another currency replace the dollar as the worlds reserve currency and $500.00 a barrel is not the least bit unreasonable.

                                                                                                                                          Assuming we have a years food supply stored, which we don't, who is going to transport it in trucks getting 5 miles per gallon when a gallon of diesel costs $20.00 p/gallon.

                                                                                                                                          I realize this is a food forum and will let the issue drop but the fact is the ramifications of our current fiscal policy are very REAL and very DISTURBING.

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                                                                                                                    2. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                      c
                                                                                                                      Chowrin Nov 19, 2013 06:41 AM

                                                                                                                      most urban folks have problems because they're working multiple jobs and trying to take care of kids. No time and an eensy workspace (plus a sucky oven or a hotplate) is more the issue than "doesn't know how to boil pasta).

                                                                                                                      Plus lack of access to vegetables (google food desert)

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                                                                                                              2. re: cwdonald
                                                                                                                pikawicca Nov 18, 2013 05:37 PM

                                                                                                                You think $4/day is "too big?" How much do you spend per day on food?

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                                                                                                            2. re: cwdonald
                                                                                                              d
                                                                                                              dinwiddie Nov 19, 2013 06:15 AM

                                                                                                              Kind of like the temporary tax cuts.

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                                                                                                          2. re: cwdonald
                                                                                                            p
                                                                                                            Pookipichu Nov 18, 2013 07:36 AM

                                                                                                            If you buy groceries, you've likely noticed how much the price of almost every food item has increased. My favorite brand of cereal was bought in bulk 38 oz for $4.99 now they stopped selling in bulk and the 14 oz boxes are $4.00. Not to mention the price of meat, eggs, juice, milk, rice, everything is more expensive. If the government is going to institute QE and promote currency devaluation, then it should take into account the effects of food inflation on indigent families.

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                                                                                                            1. re: Pookipichu
                                                                                                              h
                                                                                                              HillJ Nov 18, 2013 07:41 AM

                                                                                                              ...and that, that equation can vary tremendously state to state.

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                                                                                                          3. c
                                                                                                            cstr Nov 18, 2013 07:27 AM

                                                                                                            I just wish the states, who are their own worst enemy, would police the process and crack down of fraud.

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                                                                                                            1. re: cstr
                                                                                                              h
                                                                                                              HillJ Nov 18, 2013 07:31 AM

                                                                                                              I wish food pantries, food collection/distribution centers and soup kitchens had more authority and voice. They see the local level need and misuse. They are part of the solution and never welcomed to the authority table where discussion and real decisions are made.

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                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                cwdonald Nov 18, 2013 08:03 AM

                                                                                                                The size of the fraud has been estimated to be less than 1 billion dollars nation wide, and has not even increased proportionally with the increase in the size of the program. In fact it has been shown that the fraud as much originates from the stores that accept SNAP as it does from the recipients.

                                                                                                                http://www.deseretnews.com/article/86...

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                                                                                                                1. re: cwdonald
                                                                                                                  h
                                                                                                                  HillJ Nov 18, 2013 08:20 AM

                                                                                                                  I was referring to ALL fraud. 1 billion dollars isn't pocket change in my world. I hope it never is.

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                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                    c
                                                                                                                    cwdonald Nov 18, 2013 08:41 AM

                                                                                                                    Local Food pantries are not part of system that administers benefits. They are volunteer organizations, that are part of the social network fabric that assists people in need. They have no standing nor should they in determining food stamp enrollment. That belongs to state government.

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                                                                                                                    1. re: cwdonald
                                                                                                                      h
                                                                                                                      HillJ Nov 18, 2013 08:45 AM

                                                                                                                      I am suggesting they become a part of it. That is why I wrote, I wish. Coupled with the obvious, the PUBLIC is supporting local npo's more and more after cuts are made to these entities.

                                                                                                                      So, the public represents: participants, volunteerism, and all pay into their existence.

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                                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                        Kajikit Nov 18, 2013 09:21 AM

                                                                                                                        As a church feeding program, our only interest is to get a warm meal into people's bellies once a week. We feed people. We don't judge them or decide who 'deserves' to eat. The only thing we have to do with 'the system' is that we have volunteers from different organisations who come in to help our clients apply for food stamps/medicaid etc. We've been feeding hungry people for a decade now, and we've yet to see any signs of 'economic improvement' and 'low inflation' - quite the opposite.

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                                                                                                                        1. re: Kajikit
                                                                                                                          h
                                                                                                                          HillJ Nov 18, 2013 09:48 AM

                                                                                                                          Kaj, where I volunteer the ED and Board have every volunteer complete surveys and at the end of every year there is a meeting for the sole purpose of pulling together key observations and remarks from everyone reporting to the food bank.

                                                                                                                          I respectfully acknowledge that why people volunteer varies and how involved they wish to become also varies. At the end of the day the support/mission is dare I say our common ground.

                                                                                                                          I sincerely believe the public volunteering in support of local efforts has given up on government having answers and/or have buckets of empathy to do what they can, when they can in spite of government funding. But, there is never going to be 100% solutions to 100% of the state by state problems and when you say, we've yet to see any signs of 'economic improvement' and 'low inflation' - quite the opposite-I say, turn that into a banner and hang it!

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                                                                                                                      2. re: cwdonald
                                                                                                                        Melanie Wong Nov 18, 2013 09:04 AM

                                                                                                                        That is indeed true.

                                                                                                                        Yet I will say that the food banks that I collaborate with in my local area are very much a stakeholder in food stamp programs. They see their role as providing emergency assistance and SNAP being the mid-term bridge for dealing with food insecurity. To that end, individual food banks may have contracts with the State of California to educate, qualify and assist the needy in applying for SNAP to transition them out of food bank clientele. California has one of the lowest percentages of those who are eligible enrolled in SNAP. Also they have the ear of legislators on hunger issues. While they do not "lobby", they do provide education to the powers that be on what is needed at the grassroots level through position papers, day in the capitol visits, etc.

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                                                                                                                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                                                                                                                          h
                                                                                                                          HillJ Nov 18, 2013 09:05 AM

                                                                                                                          And in NJ they are told to sit down and listen.

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                                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                            t
                                                                                                                            Tom34 Nov 19, 2013 03:32 PM

                                                                                                                            Many would argue that is the result of Government workers who administer aid programs protecting their jobs.

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                                                                                                                      3. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                        t
                                                                                                                        treb Nov 18, 2013 03:30 PM

                                                                                                                        What I dislike is that there are too many loop holes, i.e. using snap for tattoo's, lottery tickets, liquor, and worst of all getting cash from the atm. If it were only allowed to be used for specific food groups, individuals may be able to have a chance to get off the nipple of the govt and become productive members of this society.

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                                                                                                                        1. re: treb
                                                                                                                          h
                                                                                                                          HillJ Nov 18, 2013 03:41 PM

                                                                                                                          I don't deny that some people will take advantage of any system or make foolish to desperate decisions with funds but should we draw a curtain over everyone? Because, by doing so we lose empathy (and it is required) and we dismiss the very people programs like this are intended for.

                                                                                                                          Loop holes are suppose to be dealt with by loop hole fillers,treb. People who are paid to catch and report cheaters. Should we fine folks for not doing their job?

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                                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                            linguafood Nov 18, 2013 03:45 PM

                                                                                                                            Empathy? For people who are worse off than you?

                                                                                                                            What a crazy concept.

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                                                                                                                            1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                              h
                                                                                                                              HillJ Nov 18, 2013 03:46 PM

                                                                                                                              Yeah, they call me crazy all.the. time.

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                                                                                                                            2. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                              t
                                                                                                                              treb Nov 18, 2013 03:53 PM

                                                                                                                              I'm all for people who need the program to get assistance. However, states can tighten up how and where cards can be used but, they choose not to. That upsets me when state govt blindfolds themselves and claim they are doing the best they can, that's crap.

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                                                                                                                              1. re: treb
                                                                                                                                h
                                                                                                                                HillJ Nov 18, 2013 03:57 PM

                                                                                                                                I don't disagree and I don't believe anyone would argue that. But when blanket statements are made out of frustration they wind up hurting everyone; including the folks who use the system correctly.

                                                                                                                                So, fine the rotten apples-throw apple cores in their direction but pls Mr Fed treat families to a decent meal this Thanksgiving!

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                                                                                                                              2. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                p
                                                                                                                                Pookipichu Nov 18, 2013 04:52 PM

                                                                                                                                I'm curious what people's thoughts are, pro/against on whether only legal residents of the US should be allowed SNAP?

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                                                                                                                                1. re: Pookipichu
                                                                                                                                  h
                                                                                                                                  HillJ Nov 18, 2013 05:00 PM

                                                                                                                                  For now, I refer to these observations for current policy.

                                                                                                                                  http://feedingamerica.org/how-we-figh...

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                                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                    p
                                                                                                                                    Pookipichu Nov 18, 2013 05:04 PM

                                                                                                                                    I'm referring to thoughts on what the policy should be, not what it currently is. Should we provide non-legal residents with government food assistance? I'm wondering where people fall on this issue.

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                                                                                                                                    1. re: Pookipichu
                                                                                                                                      h
                                                                                                                                      HillJ Nov 18, 2013 05:35 PM

                                                                                                                                      Since the current policy does not allow illegal residents, I have to fall back on policy in this regard. That is what I meant and it was just easier to add the link (which has been referenced on CH a few times already) as reference to my p.o.v. but I join you in hearing what others think.

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                                                                                                                                  2. re: Pookipichu
                                                                                                                                    t
                                                                                                                                    Tom34 Nov 19, 2013 03:34 PM

                                                                                                                                    You really know how to stoke a fire :-)

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                                                                                                                                  3. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                    c oliver Nov 18, 2013 05:16 PM

                                                                                                                                    I've said seems like forever that, yeah, there are people who abuse the systems but if that means that no one who truly needs it misses out, then I can live with it.

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                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                      t
                                                                                                                                      Tom34 Nov 19, 2013 05:45 AM

                                                                                                                                      "People who are paid to catch and report cheaters"

                                                                                                                                      There used to be very strict guidelines but in the 1970's it was determined that the cost of enforcing the guidelines exceeded the cost of the fraud and the result was many programs started getting funded by block grants with little in the way of enforcement.

                                                                                                                                      I would argue that a lot has changed since then and if the IRS can use computers to accurately track how much money is has TAKEN from one person than tracking how much of that money is given to another person and whether they are deserving should not be difficult.

                                                                                                                                      Bottom line, if person (A) who the government takes money from has to complete and sign under threat of penalty a form divulging every source of income and every financial asset........ than person (B) who is given the money taken from person (A) should have to complete and sign under threat of penalty an standardized form declaring not only their annual income but also their annual fixed expenses.

                                                                                                                                      Once this information is in the computer it would be quite easy to detect unnecessary spending on things like cell phones and cable TV and reduce benefits accordingly.

                                                                                                                                      Rather than working with outdated cash, how about we use 1 special welfare credit card which would accurately track how the money taken from one person and given to another is spent. That seems only fair as the government tracks every financial move the person who the money was taken from makes.

                                                                                                                                      An finally, since many of the folks who the money is taken from have to submit to drug testing in order to earn their pay check, how about the same for the people receiving money taken from the person who earned it.

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                                                                                                                                      1. re: Tom34
                                                                                                                                        ennuisans Nov 19, 2013 05:54 AM

                                                                                                                                        On that final point, people getting paychecks do have to submit to the degradation of drug tests because corporations have more rights than us lowly citizens and they can get away with it. The government, however, is restricted to only reasonable search and seizure, and confiscating part of someone's body when they have committed no crime is pretty damned unreasonable no matter who or what is doing it.

                                                                                                                                        It's also, as we have found in Florida, completely unproductive.

                                                                                                                                        http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/04/20...

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                                                                                                                                        1. re: ennuisans
                                                                                                                                          t
                                                                                                                                          Tom34 Nov 19, 2013 06:25 AM

                                                                                                                                          Actually, many Municipal, City, County, State and Federal employees are subject to drug testing as are private sector employees who's companies do business with the government.

                                                                                                                                          As for the assistance program, the only person who is being forced to do anything is the person who is paying the taxes to support the program. Nobody is forcing a person to apply for money taken from somebody else, if you don't want to give a few oz of urine, don't apply.

                                                                                                                                          Whether or not a particular mousetrap is effective largely depends on where it is set & how it is set. What works in one geographic area may not work in another. Also, there is a big difference in results between known scheduled testing vs random testing. The agenda of those studying the effectiveness of a program also have to be taken into account.

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                                                                                                                                          1. re: ennuisans
                                                                                                                                            Veggo Nov 19, 2013 06:35 AM

                                                                                                                                            Good article, and a good tell-tale indicator of the likely results for any jurisdiction contemplating the same measures. Learning from others' mistakes is a good thing.

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                                                                                                                                          2. re: Tom34
                                                                                                                                            h
                                                                                                                                            HillJ Nov 19, 2013 06:30 AM

                                                                                                                                            Like I said, then fine/penalize people for not doing their jobs. Plenty of people with access to large vats of information who sit on their arse collecting a check until they retire. Company paid phone, car, etc. There's plenty of blame to go around the table. And as we've recently seen the IRS isn't above a few tricks of its own. Who's suppose to watch the hen house exactly?

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                                                                                                                                            1. re: Tom34
                                                                                                                                              c
                                                                                                                                              Chowrin Nov 19, 2013 06:42 AM

                                                                                                                                              tom,
                                                                                                                                              irs can't. do they send you a fuggin' bill like the utilities? no.
                                                                                                                                              They could, but they'd rather spend the money auditing your sorry soul.

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                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chowrin
                                                                                                                                                t
                                                                                                                                                Tom34 Nov 19, 2013 07:11 AM

                                                                                                                                                Chowrin, I am neither ripping or defending the IRS. I am simply pointing out that people who have money taken out of their paychecks to support assistance programs are subject to extreme financial scrutiny and the recipients who receive the money should be held to the same standards.

                                                                                                                                                As for the utilities, its a statistical fact that cell phone bills and cable TV bills get paid at a much higher rate than utility bills. In fact, the situation has become so glaring that many have called for bundling the bills and shutting off the Boob Tube & Chit Chat Cells for failing to pay the bundle. I guess though the Boob Tube is another of life's necessities today and that will never fly. I just hope those paying the bills for all of this can keep it up!

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                                                                                                                                                1. re: Tom34
                                                                                                                                                  c
                                                                                                                                                  Chowrin Nov 19, 2013 07:32 AM

                                                                                                                                                  Tom,
                                                                                                                                                  that's because they don't want people to die from lack of heat.
                                                                                                                                                  Even using bill collectors turned out to be a bad idea (people still couldn't pay, but didn't realize they didn't need to pay until the summer... -- quite a few people died).

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                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chowrin
                                                                                                                                                    t
                                                                                                                                                    Tom34 Nov 19, 2013 08:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                    I am not for immediately turning off the heat Chowrin, but I do think priority should go toward paying the utility bills before the Cable TV & Cell phone bills. If people make a repeated decision to pay the Cable & Cells bills first along with the nail salon, then should we who pay the the utility bills first have to continue to subsidize them by paying higher utility bills? I really do think removing a persons self determination is a sure path to self destruction.

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                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Tom34
                                                                                                                                                      c
                                                                                                                                                      Chowrin Nov 19, 2013 08:32 AM

                                                                                                                                                      They pay interest on the utility bills. Trust me, they do. You don't pay more because of it.

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                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chowrin
                                                                                                                                                        t
                                                                                                                                                        Tom34 Nov 19, 2013 03:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                        To the contrary, the utilities are guaranteed a certain % profit and a portion of rate increases is to cover unpaid bills that will never be paid.

                                                                                                                                                        On the cable TV front, my brother used to work for Comcast many years ago and the most dreaded job was climbing a pole to kill the signal as often times he could hear bullets whizzing by his head. Fortunately the service is shut off electronically now which is a key factor as to why cable & cell phone bills get paid first. Priorities don't you know :-)

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                                                                                                                                          3. re: treb
                                                                                                                                            linguafood Nov 18, 2013 03:41 PM

                                                                                                                                            Ah, yes, those parasitic poor -- always looking for loopholes to trick the gubmint into paying for just one more tattoo. They have nothing else to do, after all.

                                                                                                                                            May I ask how you feel about the loopholes parasitic corporations use to avoid paying taxes by having their profits in offshore accounts, or their entitlement/conviction they have no debt to society as a whole?

                                                                                                                                            Surely, the amount of TAX money lost through these loopholes is in no proportion to what you are talking about.

                                                                                                                                            But yeah, let's continue to kick those already on the ground. Poor people are the problem in this country. Right.

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                                                                                                                                            1. re: treb
                                                                                                                                              pinehurst Nov 18, 2013 03:42 PM

                                                                                                                                              Treb, I don't know if those loopholes are nationwide or state-specific. I know in Mass you can use the EBT cards at ATMs, for example, but I don't know if that policy exists elsewhere.

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                                                                                                                                              1. re: pinehurst
                                                                                                                                                coll Nov 18, 2013 04:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                There are two kinds of EBT cards, one is food only, and one is "cash". With the food ones, there is no getting around the strict rules, as far as I know. No premade/cooked food, no toiletries, no paper goods or pet food and so on. But there are major scams all the time, mostly perpetuated by unscrupulous merchants who do cash in the cards for things not allowed. They do tend to get arrested eventually, luckily.

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                                                                                                                                                1. re: coll
                                                                                                                                                  c oliver Nov 18, 2013 05:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                  With everything having a barcode these days, it seems like it would be pretty easy to tidy the process up a bit. I'm thinking like the snack size bags of name brand chips rather than the store brand. I don't believe those folks are cheating; they just don't know.

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                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                    coll Nov 18, 2013 05:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                    Do you mean name brand vs generic items, that only one should be allowed? That's chump change. Anyway it's all computerized at the cash register point of sale, there's no hemming and hawing what's allowed.

                                                                                                                                                    What I was talking about (for example) is a store owner in my town that just got arrested for charging non-existant EBT purchases and splitting the proceeds with the cardholders. He did it to the tune of $600,000 before he got caught. I'm not talking about penny ante stuff, like brands of potato chips.

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                                                                                                                                                    1. re: coll
                                                                                                                                                      h
                                                                                                                                                      HillJ Nov 18, 2013 05:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                      coll, do you happen to know the details on how he finally got caught?

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                                                                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                        coll Nov 18, 2013 05:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                        Here's all I know
                                                                                                                                                        http://riverheadnewsreview.timesrevie...

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                                                                                                                                                2. re: pinehurst
                                                                                                                                                  jw615 Nov 18, 2013 06:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                  EBT just stands for Electronic Benefits Transfer - there is more than just SNAP money that can be accessed with the cards. For SNAP money, it cannot be withdrawn from an ATM or used for non-food items. But in many states, child support and funds for foster parents are transferred using these cards, and I can think of multiple reasons why people using that money could need cash.

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                                                                                                                                                3. re: treb
                                                                                                                                                  pikawicca Nov 18, 2013 05:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                  This is totally bogus. No one, anywhere, can use Snap to get tats, booze, etc. Stop listening to Rush, et al.

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                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pikawicca
                                                                                                                                                    h
                                                                                                                                                    HillJ Nov 18, 2013 05:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                    One of the investigative news shows did a story about folks swapping food assistance for all sorts of things non food related and very off so it's happening 'somewhere' but one story ripples a thousand page views.

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                                                                                                                                            2. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                              k
                                                                                                                                              KailuaGirl Nov 20, 2013 05:58 PM

                                                                                                                                              When I was a managing attorney at Legal Aid, in the largest poverty pocket on O'ahu, I kept a spare office that I used as an unofficial food pantry. It was stocked with gov't cheese (I had a fridge), gov't peanut butter, dried milk, shelf stable cartons of milk, Pampers, tampax, dried pancake mix, dried eggs, a 50 gallon drum of rice, and a variety of other food items. On Saturdays fishermen brought some of their catch to my office, I iced it, and clients would come to get fresh fish. Another friend make all the mesquite charcoal for Waikiki's finest dining establishments. He kept me in charcoal, and I supplied it to clients (and others in financial need). Many of them were homeless and living on the beach so they had to cook on charcoal if they wanted something hot to eat. They bathed at the public showers, an option not available to Mainlanders in the winter. The cops even came to help direct traffic sometimes. The demand was THAT huge. Local farmers also provided me with free produce for distribution to those in need. My offices were broken into a few times and no one ever took the typewriter, computer, stereo, portable tape deck, dictaphone, cash sitting on my desk, or beer in the fridge. They came for food. My only guess is that they were too embarrassed to ask for food again if they'd already been in recently.

                                                                                                                                              The need back then was great and it's just getting greater. I want to see corporations paying their fair share of taxes and the minimum wage raised to a living wage.

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                                                                                                                                              1. re: KailuaGirl
                                                                                                                                                c oliver Nov 20, 2013 06:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                And now Hawaii has that state representative who's destroying the belongings of the homeless, busting up grocery carts, etc. What a doozy aka asshole he is :(

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                                                                                                                                                1. re: KailuaGirl
                                                                                                                                                  h
                                                                                                                                                  HillJ Nov 20, 2013 07:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Did we lose you @ Legal Aid? I sure hope not.

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                                                                                                                                            3. sandiasingh Nov 18, 2013 08:13 AM

                                                                                                                                              This issue is of particular interest to me as a food activist and consumer and grower of real food, not manufactured, factory made products. Our local food bank gets large donations from big box stores that supply horrible junk food and sweets. When I brought this up to a member of the board she informed me that their clients "could care less" what they are eating.

                                                                                                                                              This is morally wrong, in my opinion, and it's going to get worse once the reality of the cuts catches up with the local food pantries. Junk food means poor health, diabetes, heart disease, etc. The total lack of concern on her part I found astonishing and elitist. They can at least try to find more nutritious food for their clientele--but hey, that means they have to work at it a little harder and I don't see that happening.

                                                                                                                                              Thanks for posting.

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                                                                                                                                              1. re: sandiasingh
                                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                                cwdonald Nov 18, 2013 08:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                I certainly would not say its morally wrong to accept donations. People regardless of their economic standing have the right to choose to eat what they want. I would challenge you as a producer to ask what are you doing to help buck the trend. Are you donating excess from your farm/kitchen etc to a food pantry? The CSA I belong to does, but I think it unfortunately is not the norm.

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                                                                                                                                                1. re: cwdonald
                                                                                                                                                  h
                                                                                                                                                  HillJ Nov 18, 2013 08:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                  To belong to a CSA isn't within the reach of people on food assistance and when you've been given fewer choices as to what you can purchase with SNAP or can't qualify for other programs the choosing what you need is being chosen for you to a degree.

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                                                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                    c
                                                                                                                                                    cwdonald Nov 18, 2013 08:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                    I never said it was.. I was saying however that CSAs can and do donate to local food pantries. I wish it were more common.

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                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cwdonald
                                                                                                                                                      h
                                                                                                                                                      HillJ Nov 18, 2013 08:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                      I know you didn't, I'm voicing my own opinion. I don't speak for fellow CH's cwd, just myself.

                                                                                                                                                      I wish there was more cross over btwn all food sources for families. The disconnect here in NJ is frustrating; coupled with duplication of service in other areas of support.

                                                                                                                                                      With the holiday time coming, volunteers (like myself) are already talking about the issues we will face that are duplication weak points in the chain from only a year ago.

                                                                                                                                                      Gerbil wheel gets my annoyance up.

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                                                                                                                                                  2. re: cwdonald
                                                                                                                                                    sandiasingh Nov 18, 2013 08:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                    I mean I think it's morally wrong to assume food pantry clients could care less what they eat, so just throw them a bone and they'll be happy. If you are hungry you are not going to be too picky, I'm sure, but that doesn't mean the food pantry should provide garbage and junk food to assuage their hunger. On the other hand, as you mention, I do think it's morally wrong to donate garbage to hungry people for a tax write off or a little local publicity.

                                                                                                                                                    I take one or two bags of homemade food to our food pantry every week and donated about 30 lbs of tomatoes, so yes, I do what I can for my neighbors.

                                                                                                                                                    I recently read the new book "The Stop" about a large urban food pantry/community center in Toronto that is setting a new model for large food banks around the world. It was a very political and brave move, but many people, including a lot of volunteers, don't want to get involved at that level. The issue of hunger is very political because it involves, jobs, education, transportation, etc. The author took it on and he did quite an amazing job and that's why it's becoming a model.

                                                                                                                                                    Our little food pantry serves about 55 families ranging from one to seven. Some people have a kitchen, some do not. Some have a microwave, others have a stove. As noted on the map in the OP, New Mexico suffers from severe poverty and was recently named the number one state in the country for hungry children. Not a pretty picture here.

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                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sandiasingh
                                                                                                                                                      h
                                                                                                                                                      HillJ Nov 18, 2013 08:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                      We (a group of friends) just donated a quilt to a food pantry set up through a church to help them raise funds. The volunteers are using their own money to buy food baskets for Thanksgiving for about 35 families. The church provides no assistance. The quilt raised $2,000.00 to offset their costs.

                                                                                                                                                      The public is the glue holding funded programs together at the local level. And folks who are the elite, super wealthy often pointed to in these discussions aren't the folks buying raffle tickets.

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                                                                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                        sandiasingh Nov 18, 2013 08:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                        Got that right, HillJ. Repercussions from the cuts are going to get worse over the next couple of months and I will probably increase my donations a bit. I don't care what economic level someone is in, children still need to learn the rituals, traditions and customs of their country on important holidays and these cuts come at a terrible time.

                                                                                                                                                        Happy Holidays from Congress.

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                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sandiasingh
                                                                                                                                                          h
                                                                                                                                                          HillJ Nov 18, 2013 09:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                          Do you ever hear Congress thanking the American people or the global food network for filling the gaps or even acknowledging that they are? I'm not taking about volunteer trophies..

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                                                                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                            sandiasingh Nov 18, 2013 09:22 AM

                                                                                                                                                            From what I've learned from people who have been on both sides of this issue (as donors and alternately recipients), there isn't much training for the volunteers and their knowledge and political awareness may be limited, although I appreciate they are there at all.

                                                                                                                                                            I know that our local coordinator only goes to the pantry on days the larger food bank delivers. She does not go on days when the clients are there. She writes a good, bureaucratic email, full of caps and bolds, I'll give her that. Volunteer trophy in her future, I bet.

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                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sandiasingh
                                                                                                                                                              h
                                                                                                                                                              HillJ Nov 18, 2013 09:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                              The training you receive to assist in a food program depends largely on a) the type of food program it is and b) the ED's agenda and proper use of volunteers. Volunteer Resource Managers (sometimes a paid position, many times not) are trained to train volunteers properly. If this position doesn't exist, the training can vary quite a bit.

                                                                                                                                                              Trophy...yeah..don't get me started.

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                                                                                                                                                2. Veggo Nov 18, 2013 09:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                  The poverty rate in the US has held steady at about 15% since 1970. This is largely because government brainiacs define poverty as the poorest 15% in good times or bad, so, duh.
                                                                                                                                                  Government poverty figures do not count the top 5 major poverty reduction programs - Medicaid, SNAP, EITC, Section 8 vouchers, and unemployment compensation. ACA will be a sixth. Allowing for those transfer payments, the real poverty rate is between 2-5%. not perfect, but not bad. Money doesn't fall out of trees anymore.

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                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Veggo
                                                                                                                                                    h
                                                                                                                                                    HillJ Nov 18, 2013 10:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                    Falling back on such stats doesn't work for me anymore. I think bean counters aren't helping real people get out of the cycle. I find no comfort in words like "not perfect" People who aren't hungry make life changing decisions about what families will be allowed to buy on assistance and then decide they must be doing better because the "bean counting" is better this year. Ugh.

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                                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                      Veggo Nov 18, 2013 10:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                      Actually, it's the bureaucrats who run the poverty reduction programs who exaggerate the poverty figures. It validates their purpose and provides job security and empire building at taxpayer expense, of course. Any massive redistribution of public funds will include mismanagement on the giving side and abuse on the receiving end.

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                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Veggo
                                                                                                                                                        h
                                                                                                                                                        HillJ Nov 18, 2013 10:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                        Yeah, I call those folks bean counters. And you know what happens when you eat too many :)

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                                                                                                                                                      2. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                                                                        cwdonald Nov 18, 2013 10:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                        Unfortunately SNAP itself doesn't help people get out of the cycle of poverty. It is a temporary relief.

                                                                                                                                                        Job creation, education and training, affordable housing, affordable childcare have a bigger impact in the long run.

                                                                                                                                                        But as John Maynard Keynes, my favorite bean counter said, in the long run we are all dead.

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                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cwdonald
                                                                                                                                                          h
                                                                                                                                                          HillJ Nov 18, 2013 11:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                          Because job creation, education and training, affordable housing, affordable childcare are also on the 'costs more than ever' short list, SNAP is more than temporary relief. Feeding people produces better overall health which allows individuals to properly approach job opportunity, consider higher education and training, become a part of independent housing while being able to afford children, let alone childcare.

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                                                                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                            c
                                                                                                                                                            cwdonald Nov 18, 2013 11:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                            The data on the benefits of SNAP unfortunately are not strong. People assert that it is beneficial but there are very few good studies that actually demonstrate it. The best data is in school age children. The rest of the data is very scattered at best. There is little data on the benefit of SNAP in the elderly, nor is there good data on the benefit of SNAP in a long term helping people graduate college, and perform better at work. As a public policy standpoint, it is not clear how long people could or should have access to the benefit... forever is not good public policy.

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                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cwdonald
                                                                                                                                                              h
                                                                                                                                                              HillJ Nov 18, 2013 01:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                              Financial criteria is the only one that works. College students need to prove financial need in order to receive and keep aid while enrolled. Their parents must also prove income. This isn't hard to determine. If you can't afford to feed yourself and your family what more data do you need?

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                                                                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                                                cwdonald Nov 18, 2013 07:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                I am not speaking about what it takes to get food stamps I am talking about the benefit of receiving SNAP. I know all about the approval process.. I work for a not for profit organization that is dedicated to streamlining the process.

                                                                                                                                                                However there is little good scientific data on the benefit of SNAP.

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                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cwdonald
                                                                                                                                                                  h
                                                                                                                                                                  HillJ Nov 18, 2013 07:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  cwd, my entire first career, now 40 years ago, was about building a better program. So now I'm older, hopefully the tread isn't too worn out, and I keep my hands, heart and head IN the new process. I know it's not PERFECT. Somewhere in the course of 40 years data/bean counting took over and the humanity of it all got the back seat until the public started getting involved more and more. Until every day people who had something (home, hearth) significant to lose; some fast, some slow started to scream. Until nutrition and health became REAL problems in all our eyes. Until, until until. I'm not talking only about what it takes to get food stamps either. It's also about keeping them while you need them without having to still worry about putting food on the table. This OP started with MW sharing an article, a map about CUTS. People on assistance can't afford cuts. I can't live on $14K a year and feed my family properly without something else giving way.

                                                                                                                                                                  The only data I'm ever going to be interested in is the data that shows Americans who work hard and still struggle don't have to BEG for food.

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                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                    c
                                                                                                                                                                    cwdonald Nov 19, 2013 04:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    That may be the case, but the way to make a difference in the policy arena is to prove that people are better off with SNAP.

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                                                                                                                                                              2. re: cwdonald
                                                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                                                Chowrin Nov 18, 2013 05:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                SNAP is regularly used by people serving their country, both in wartime and peacetime.

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                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Veggo
                                                                                                                                                          c
                                                                                                                                                          Chowrin Nov 18, 2013 05:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                          Yeah. and a friend of mine is a wealthy person in his hometown. He pulls coke bottles out of the garbage dump.
                                                                                                                                                          makes about $20 thousand a year. That' s a lot there.

                                                                                                                                                          Poverty... you know it when you see it.

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                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chowrin
                                                                                                                                                            z
                                                                                                                                                            zebulon Nov 21, 2013 05:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                            Wow - that is a hard-working friend! Not sure how much you get for returning a coke bottle where you are - here it is 5 cents. So that would be 400,000 bottles a year or over 1000/day (no days off!). If he gets that much out of the dump each day - good for him and good for the environment!

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                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Veggo
                                                                                                                                                            y
                                                                                                                                                            youareabunny Nov 19, 2013 12:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                            The line for poverty in 2012 was $28k for a family of 3 adults and 2 children.

                                                                                                                                                            http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/povert...

                                                                                                                                                            So do we have low poverty or do we draw the line ridiculously low? I don't know a single person or couple that could survive on that. I lived like that for several years with a roommate. Food was 99cent store bread, 8 microwave burritos for less than $2 and our bills were often pink.

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                                                                                                                                                          3. Melanie Wong Nov 18, 2013 07:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                            From yesterday's op-ed piece in the San Francisco Chronicle by Paul Ash is the executive director of the San Francisco and Marin Food Banks.

                                                                                                                                                            "The number of meals cut through the Nov. 1 reduction and the proposed $40 billion in cuts exceeds all the meals provided by food banks in the country, combined. In other words, every food bank would have to double the amount of food they distribute just to make up the loss."

                                                                                                                                                            "Food Banks can't make up for food stamp benefit cuts"
                                                                                                                                                            http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/openfor...

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                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Melanie Wong
                                                                                                                                                              y
                                                                                                                                                              youareabunny Nov 19, 2013 12:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                              I worked at a big retailer once and for Christmas you could get raffle tickets by donating food. In the end we had about 10 shopping carts full and half the items were $.10 ramen.

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                                                                                                                                                              1. re: youareabunny
                                                                                                                                                                Veggo Nov 19, 2013 06:22 AM

                                                                                                                                                                Maybe ramen should have been the raffle prize.

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                                                                                                                                                            2. linguafood Nov 19, 2013 08:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                              Perhaps to make this whole discussion a little less... shall we say abstract, here's a little perspective from someone who actually IS on food stamps:

                                                                                                                                                              So if you're getting less in Food Stamps (I'm getting 20% less than I was before) you have to pay for food out of cash. And you know what that leads to? (I happen to be disabled with both a heart and a lung disease), it leads to trading-off.

                                                                                                                                                              You have to think: "Okay, which medication can I skip for a week without doing too much damage, so that I can buy some milk"? You can't imagine how many times I've done this.

                                                                                                                                                              "Hmmm...I could skip one of my heart medications, but that might make me go into arrhythmia...on the other hand, skipping one of my lung medications will make it so that I can't breathe...but I have to have the milk, because I've been living off of peanut butter and cereal for a week now and I need the milk."

                                                                                                                                                              This is the reality of a disabled lawyer, my friends. Nobody can wrap their heads around a well-educated, white attorney, raised in a rich suburb, living like this, but it's real and it's happening all over the country.

                                                                                                                                                              It's all more comfortable if we think of Food Stamp recipients as being filthy, toothless miscreants of a "different color" than white...

                                                                                                                                                              When I was on nothing but $300/mo. Welfare and food stamps, I was treated like I was BELOW the scum of the earth.

                                                                                                                                                              That's why I get so pissed at these assholes who howl about "Welfare Fraud" and other govt. benefit fraud. If they had any idea what one has to go through to get these measly amounts of money, and what we have to prove, before they believe we're Americans, everyone would be robbing banks before they'd try fraud!"

                                                                                                                                                              And with that, I leave this discussion.

                                                                                                                                                              12 Replies
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                                                                                                                                                              1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                sandiasingh Nov 19, 2013 08:57 AM

                                                                                                                                                                Thank you lingua for your very candid insight. I hate the judgement calls being made here and everywhere else this topic comes up. It's inhumane and cruel, petty and self-centered. God forbid we should ever need help, but the way things are going in this train wreck of an economy, I don't rule that out.

                                                                                                                                                                Take care.

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                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sandiasingh
                                                                                                                                                                  linguafood Nov 19, 2013 10:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  It is positively revolting, sandi. I wish nothing but the worst on these people. Nothing but.

                                                                                                                                                                  And this in a country that's supposedly ALL about community and Christian values.

                                                                                                                                                                  Christian values my ass.

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                                                                                                                                                                2. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                  Veggo Nov 19, 2013 09:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  It appears you spend a lot of your year in Europe - how does the assistance there compare? I assume if it was measurably better you would stay there? I do wish you the best.

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                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Veggo
                                                                                                                                                                    c
                                                                                                                                                                    Chowrin Nov 19, 2013 09:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    We lost some damn fine bakers because the assistance is better in Europe. At least they had family there (no insurance for religious reasons, and they couldn't afford the bills here).

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                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Veggo
                                                                                                                                                                      linguafood Nov 19, 2013 10:32 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      I spend my summers in Germany. The assistance is much better, as we have something called a social market economy. But you're aware of that, I am sure.

                                                                                                                                                                      I personally have not had the need to use any welfare or food stamps, but I was perfectly comfortable having anywhere between 25-35% taken out of my paycheck to cover health insurance, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, etc. etc., knowing that my own contribution would help both myself in the long run, and others. That's how civilized societies -- not Randian utopias -- work.

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                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                        c oliver Nov 19, 2013 11:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        You bring up a good point. Those who can afford to have insurance(s) and choose not to are, IMO, perhaps not very good citizens of this planet. It IS called civilization.

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                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                      c oliver Nov 19, 2013 09:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      As I've said for years, I want the programs to assist EVERYONE in need and if that means that some are getting assistance that they don't qualify for, I can live with that. NOBODY SHOULD GO HUNGRY.

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                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                                                                                        Chowrin Nov 19, 2013 09:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        Yeah. totally. too much time is spent worrying about small things. So, what, if someone spends a dash of money on liquor? (Yes, I do know people who have drunk salted cooking wine -- it's way more expensive, and for less of a buzz).

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                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chowrin
                                                                                                                                                                          linguafood Nov 19, 2013 10:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          Because it's so much easier (and typical) for people to kick down. Bow to the top, kick to the bottom.

                                                                                                                                                                          It always amazes me that the people who shit all over the poor are perfectly fine being shat on by the rich.

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                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                            c
                                                                                                                                                                            Chowrin Nov 19, 2013 10:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            It's a peasant mentality. Germany, perhaps unsurprisingly, has surprisingly little of it.

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                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chowrin
                                                                                                                                                                              linguafood Nov 19, 2013 10:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              Oh, the same mentality exists in Germany -- the middle class accusing the poor of being the problem. I've had some _interesting_ exchanges with my mother, who also likes to eat up the ludicrous demagoguery blaming the weakest members of society for its ills.

                                                                                                                                                                              No, it's never the rich who have more than they could spend in a lifetime, and who couldn't care less about the middle class OR the poor.

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                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                        linguafood Nov 19, 2013 02:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        I probably should've clarified that this was a comment from a friend of mine when I posted a link to this thread on fb, and I had the best intentions to point that out. My bad.

                                                                                                                                                                        Not that it matters.

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                                                                                                                                                                      3. p
                                                                                                                                                                        Pookipichu Nov 19, 2013 11:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        There is definitely abuse of food stamps. I hope we can eliminate abuse of food stamps.

                                                                                                                                                                        Just as I hoped we wouldn't invade Iraq, spending over a trillion dollars and channeling 100's of billions of tax payer money to Halliburton, Blackwater and other contractors.

                                                                                                                                                                        Just as I hoped that we would crack down on off-shoring and tax evasion. Or a 15% tax rate on the billions of income earned by hedgefund managers.

                                                                                                                                                                        Just as I hoped we wouldn't spend a trillion dollars bailing out corrupt banks and mortgage companies that purposely engaged in deceptive and illegal practices.

                                                                                                                                                                        Just as I hoped that corporations would be forced to pay a living wage to its employees and there be real enforcement and consequences for taking advantage of immigrant labor.

                                                                                                                                                                        Just as I hoped that the Federal Reserve wouldn't spend a trillion dollars buying bonds, devaluing the dollar, spurring inflation of food and energy, spurring real estate speculation, currency speculation and asset bubbles. Lending to commercial institutions at 0%, hoping that they will in turn lend to consumers, as if commercial institutions were moral entities instead of driven by profit.

                                                                                                                                                                        Etc. etc. There's so much corruption and fat at the top, it could easily pay for every poor, societal "leech" 1,000 times over.

                                                                                                                                                                        6 Replies
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                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Pookipichu
                                                                                                                                                                          linguafood Nov 19, 2013 11:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          Yes. A thousand times over: YES.

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                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                            p
                                                                                                                                                                            Pookipichu Nov 19, 2013 11:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            This article should be read by everyone in the US. Andrew Huszar, former Federal Reserve member, on how the government has bailed out the banking industry TWICE. Once officially and the second surreptitiously through quantitative easing.

                                                                                                                                                                            http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/S...

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                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Pookipichu
                                                                                                                                                                              MrsPatmore Nov 19, 2013 04:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                              But, Pookipichu, it is so much easier to cast a stink-eye on the person in front of you at the grocery store! You know, the one who is paying for his/her groceries with YOUR money.

                                                                                                                                                                              I have a good 10 minutes to glare at that person in front of me at the grocery.

                                                                                                                                                                              It would require me to actually do some research (not much), educate myself (not much), and do some math (not much) to determine that a much bigger portion of the pie is being spent on war profiteerism, bank bail-outs, and underwriting the obscene profits of the already wealthy.

                                                                                                                                                                              Sadly, this type of commentary will be summarily dismissed.

                                                                                                                                                                              I wish that the general population got as upset about corporate greed as they did individual opportunism.

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                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MrsPatmore
                                                                                                                                                                                p
                                                                                                                                                                                Pookipichu Nov 19, 2013 05:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                I agree, but it's hard to blame the general population when the media is doing such a poor job of educating people on the issues. In fact, more often than not, people are being misled.

                                                                                                                                                                                Quantitative easing is one of the greatest swindles in recent history yet very few people have even heard of it. When money is stolen from the rich (e.g. Madoff), the media covers it ad nauseum. When wealth is shifted from the masses to the rich (e.g. Quantitative Easing) there is a smokescreen of misinformation.

                                                                                                                                                                                Even more shocking is the number of liberal scholars and experts defending QE. After 5 years, over 4 trillion dollars, the best that anyone can say, is a meaningless "It probably would have been worse without QE". Where do you even begin with an argument like that? There's no better way to utilize 4 trillion dollars than to give banks easy money? What happened to public works? Like fixing roads and bridges, building infrastructure, fixing airports, funding science/research, funding the arts, improving schools, hiring teachers, feeding the poor, funding fire departments, police departments... all things that create middle class jobs and directly improve the economy, thousands of times more than giving money to financial institutions and hoping that it will all trickle down after the rich buy marble and gold commodes, gobble up real estate and crocodile Birkin bags.

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                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Pookipichu
                                                                                                                                                                                  MrsPatmore Nov 19, 2013 05:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                  Quote: "it's hard to blame the general population when the media is doing such a poor job of educating people on the issues. In fact, more often than not, people are being misled."

                                                                                                                                                                                  The only glimmer of hope here (and it's a slim reed) is that finally, finally . . . Fox News is being disregarded in whole.

                                                                                                                                                                                  In general, we're in a world of trouble, people.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Pookipichu
                                                                                                                                                                                    Veggo Nov 19, 2013 05:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                    QE was a necessary evil to allow large institutions to recover from their misdeeds. They were deemed and anointed as essential to world survival. (Veggo pukes)
                                                                                                                                                                                    The dependency on leveraged borrowing at a national level in the eyes and policies of name-brand economists has rankled me for decades, and caused me to drop out from the process. I still write and contribute to the dialog, usually quite critically.

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                                                                                                                                                                          2. sandiasingh Nov 19, 2013 07:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                            Who ever said food isn't about politics?

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                                                                                                                                                                            1. The Chowhound Team Nov 21, 2013 08:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              Folks at this point, it seems like most people have said what they have to say on food related issues and the conversation keeps ending up on cell phones. We're going to lock it now.

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