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Dec 3, 2013 12:31 AM

The hard debate over nutrition standards for food stamp benefits

"Nicole Blakey says she can’t stand watching other people buy junk food with the government-issued food-stamp debit cards she’s used to raise three children while earning $9 an hour at a dry cleaner.

'It makes me sick when you see people at the store, and they have 12-packs of pop,' the 37-year-old Columbus, Ohio, resident, said in a telephone interview. Taxpayers 'would probably be more supportive of the program' if people weren’t allowed to buy unhealthy items, she said.

That view is being defied by an unusual alliance of food producers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, libertarians and advocates for the poor who are thwarting efforts to require recipients to buy healthy items with their food stamp benefits as Congress debates reauthorizing the law that governs the program."

" 'It's a very uncomfortable debate,' said Michael Dimock, president of Roots of Change, a Bay Area group that advocates for sustainable and local agriculture. 'People are forced into making purchases of food with little money, and it feels like another injustice for them to be told what they can or cannot buy. At the same time, logically speaking, it's a very difficult situation for us as a nation to be supplementing people's purchase of unhealthy food.' "

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  1. Imagine if we called them "nutrition stamps" instead of "food stamps".

    1. The hypocrisy of it all is galling. When we are spending our own hard-earned money, those on the left would dictate (and narrow) our health insurance choices, our residence choices, our food and drink choices (when paying with our own money), our automobile choices, our gasoline choices, and so forth and so on, but when it comes to placing a narrow definition on what a food stamp recipient should do when spending taxpayer dollars, they are against it. So they have no problem dictating choice for taxpayers spending their own money, but they are totally against dictating choice when it is taxpayer dollars being spent (and wasted) by welfare recipients.

      The last time I was in a checkout line behind an EBT-user and paid attention to their basket, this is what was bought: chocolate rose-shaped lollipops, several largest size bags of doritos, monster energy drinks and a handful of snack-sized bags of chips. Note that none of this is actual food, yet it all qualified for EBT. I never buy these things, and they shouldn't be allowed for EBT purchases either.

      Just look at the alliance of folks in favor of loose or no restrictions, and add JP Morgan. The loudest voices are the junk food producers and Wall Street. Shame on them, shame on the politicians who have pushed for greater dependency, and shame on those who take advantage of these government programs (not the truly needy, but the leechers and moochers who could and should provide for themselves). It's time to stop financing and growing the ever-increasing welfare state.

      77 Replies
      1. re: janniecooks

        I'm not sure upon what you are basing your assessment that the right is for nutrition standards and the left is against. It is more complicated than that, which is the point of the linked articles.

        Per the SFGATE link, the food industry and House republicans are OPPOSED to nutrition standards and the mayors of both SF and Oakland (I'm guessing both are on the liberal side) are open to nutrition standards. Also named as pro-standards advocates: an Oakland public health activist and a UCSC professor. USDA's Food and Nutrition Service is on the fence because of concerns about who gets to define what is a "junk" food.

        1. re: janniecooks

          It sounds like you're more interested in punishing welfare recipients or taking the money away completely, than thinking through whether these rules would be a benefit to society.

          1. re: calumin

            Earlier this week I was in line at the grocery store behind a couple using EBT. They had two separate orders at the register. One order was for what appeared to be normal grocery items. The second order was a case of beer and a couple bottles of wine. They paid for the first order with their EBT then paid for the beer and wine with cash. Shouldn't they be using their cash to pay for their groceries instead of my tax dollars?

                1. re: Veggo

                  When they are using public money to pay for their groceries and private money to pay for luxuries like beer and wine, it is a public concern. Because I am part of the taxpaying is my concern.

                  This idea that it is none of my business what people do with taxpayer funded subsidies is absurd.

                  1. re: jpc8015

                    Well, since I'm on Social Security, I hope you're never behind me in the checkout line.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      To my knowledge there are no rules attached to social security payments regarding what are acceptable purchases. You probably get a direct deposit into your checking account every month and that is the end of it.

                      SNAP is different. These people have gone to the state of Oregon and claimed to be so desperately poor that they can not possibly hope to feed themselves (I don't know if they have any children or not). The good people of the state of Oregon have graciously given these poor folks a form of payment that is only good for purchasing food.

                      They then take their cash and buy alcohol with it. They clearly do not need the subsidy they were given if they can afford to buy alcohol. This is nothing short of wasteful and abusive.

                      1. re: jpc8015

                        Have you actually read this entire thread? I have and not only learned a lot but modified my opinion.

                        1. re: jpc8015

                          I don't have any kids. Why should I pay taxes to finance the schools in my district?

                          I don't drive a car. Why should I pay taxes to finance roads?

                          Paying taxes for the common benefit of society is what makes a society work, and what makes it different from a bunch of Randian savages who only give a shit about themselves.

                          1. re: linguafood

                            I don't have kids or acar either but it is clear to me why our entire society benefits from schools and an educated population and a better infrastructure.

                            I have a hard time equating those societal functions with purchasing alcohol.

                            As a practical matter, if you give a needy individual or family x $ to spend on food, once they have the $, there is virtually no way to have any say whether it gets spent at farmers markets, organic foods, on cheese doodles or beer. Despite all efforts to have some control, very efficient black markets exist that will allow people who choose to buy cigs or alcohol.

                            BTW, while society does provide schooling, there are a great number of people whop choose private schooling, and while it is subsidized by public tax dollars, individuals can choose to pay more for a perceived better "product."

                          2. re: jpc8015

                            They purchased the alcohol seperately because you're not allowed to use food stamps to buy it. Fair enough... but what they do with their own money is none of your (or my) business. You can't buy toilet paper or shampoo or many other basic necessities of modern life with food stamps either... We're not the shopping cart (or food stamp) police. It also happens to be the holiday season in case you've forgotten... alcohol is a normal part of most people's lives at this time of year.

                            1. re: Kajikit

                              The original thread dealt with food stamp benefits and whether the recipients spend the $ on nutritious and healthy food for themselves and family. Alcohol is neither nutritious or healthy; especially for some.

                              The purchase of alcohol and drugs is an an unintended consequence. I am aware of the holidays but the holidays are of little concern to many alcohol users. Every day is a holiday.

                              I can' t quote statistics but some large number of our underclass happen to abuse alcohol or drugs. That may not be the sole reason but its certainly a contributing factor in why those poor folk are where they are.

                              We're not doing alcoholic people a favor by allowing them to get to buy "free" , booze no difference on the season.

                              BTW, in Boston this AM, going rate for $100 worth of "food stamps" was $30/40 for drugs..50ish for booze.

                              Happy holidays!

                              1. re: 9lives

                                "I can' t quote statistics but some large number of our underclass happen to abuse alcohol or drugs."

                                Yah, I bet you can't.

                                And let's not forget that cause and effect might matter ever so slightly.

                                1. re: 9lives

                                  Not sure why alcohol is "neither nutritious or healthy."

                                  I'm kinda betting that there are even a larger number of wealthy people who are abusing substances. But I also don't have the data to prove that.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    There are data on welfare recipients that were widely posted online during one state's discussion of random drug testing all welfare and food stamp applicants. Edited to include a discussion of various study findings, how wide the different measures are depending on how questions and "use" or "abuse" are defined.

                                    Something that must be considered is that there are a substantial number of folks on public assistance due to psychiatric disability, which is commonly associated with substance abuse, often in an attempt to self medicate, or as clients used to say to me: "I was trying to slow everything down." These folks weren't doing crack or amphetamines, they were using alcohol snd pot, both of which do exactly that.

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      Much has been made of the fact that Florida Rep Trey Radel (convicted in DC on cocaine charges) voted for a bill testing food stamp recipients.

                                      Florida and Utah have been testing welfare recipients, with relatively low results. Testing is costing the states more than they are saving.


                                      1. re: paulj

                                        So it's pretty much like voter fraud. It rarely happens. Thanks for sharing this.

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          Paul, passing out money, whether the BP Horizon settlement, hurricanes, Boston marathons, vast sums of cash in Iraq and Afghanistan, Newtown CT, Haiti, Nigerian oil, Kenyan rice, ALL involve graft and misappropriation.

                                          1. re: Veggo

                                            "Passing out money" is an unfair characterization. Any time money changes hands, period, someone is looking to grab some of it.

                                            With any retail operation theft by employees is at least as big a concern as theft by merchandise walking out the door. Those security cameras all around the registers aren't there to watch customers for the most part, but cashiers.

                                            But one point from your comment: BP settlement, hurricanes, Haiti, etc, all involve graft and misappropriation. But the only laws we pass target poor people, making their lives more difficult and gaining little or no social benefit.

                                              1. re: ennuisans

                                                If someone can afford to buy beer, then they can afford to buy food. If they can afford to buy food then why are they getting a government handout for it?

                                                1. re: jpc8015

                                                  Well, first of all, as has been mentioned here (time and time again) the SNAP-benefit doesn't come close to buying all their food. But to answer you, why should beer not be okay but meat (for example) is? Nobody NEEDS meat, do they? I'm guessing people can eat a completely nutritious diet on nothing but canned fruits and vegetables. Throw in some rice and beans. A calcium supplement is probably cheaper than milk. Why not?

                                                  1. re: jpc8015

                                                    Yeah, and they can afford to be raped, or assaulted, or robbed at gunpoint.

                                                    People make sacrifices to afford beer.
                                                    Other people make sacrifices to afford a car.

                                                    We set limits on gross assets and income for SNAP. We don't say that you must spend your money on a good steel door, or on beer, or on testing yourself for AIDS.

                                                    1. re: Chowrin

                                                      There has to be some personal accountability and responsibility. These people are going to the state and telling them that they need help buying food...then they magically have money for luxury items like beer and wine. If they can afford the beer and wine, why can they not afford food? Because they make poor choices. I should not have to subsidize other people's poor choices.

                                                      1. re: jpc8015

                                                        Did you see my post just above? Why meat?

                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                          I'll bite; because meat is the most bioavailable way to get quality protein to sustain the body's healthiest tissues. Protein and fats are the only biologically essential nutrients, they should not be restricted for that reason. Everything else is optional.

                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                            "because meat is the most bioavailable way to get quality protein "

                                                            Can you provide me a citation for that?

                                                            So, then, ONLY meat. Optional and then not to be covered by SNAP would be fruits, vegetables, carbs, dairy, etc..

                                                        2. re: jpc8015

                                                          Whiskey makes fine medicine, and costs less than Triaminic too.
                                                          If you want to say that the only people who can have foodstamps are the ones who don't earn any money, there'll be a lot more legs being spread under the table, if you know what I mean.

                                                            1. re: jpc8015

                                                              Neither should I, but I had to pay taxes to subsidize the so-called "War on Terror" cooked up by Bush and Cheney.

                                                          1. re: jpc8015

                                                            If people can afford to buy a present for their kid, they shouldn't get food stamps.

                                                            If people can afford to go to a movie, then they shouldn't get food stamps.

                                                            If people can afford to take a subway ride to coney island on a Saturday afternoon, then they shouldn't get food stamps.

                                                            Is this your idea?

                                                            1. re: DGresh

                                                              Well said! This thread has been so very enlightening to me.

                                                          2. re: ennuisans

                                                            Huh? SNAP, Earned Income Tax Credit, Section 8 housing vouchers, forms of public transportation, Sallie Mae student loans, and unemployment compensation were all implemented to assist the needy. ACA will be another. Forbes Magazine estimates that these programs reduce the effective number of people living in poverty in the US to about 2%.
                                                            What laws make life more difficult for poor people?

                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                              Laws that require people to undergo drug testing to receive help with buying food. As Paul mentioned, to which you responded and then to which I responded. It's not like I said that out of the blue.

                                                              To my knowledge, most of the programs you mention here were enacted back when we were a decent society. We are less so now, and want to restrict or even eliminate those programs.

                                                              1. re: ennuisans

                                                                At least a few drug testing initiatives were abandoned because they cost more than they saved. I don't see anything unfair about the concept.
                                                                We were a decent society when our national debt was not $17 trillion. Things changed. Our middle class is struggling also.

                                                    2. re: c oliver

                                                      Ohhhhhhhhh trust me I'm doing my best to support that data! I can attest to the fact, you ain't gotta be poor to abuse alcohol.

                                                      Although this most recent turn this thread has taken has lead me to a stroke of GENIUS!!!! Nutritionally balanced booze!!!!! I will be the healthiest man in the world!!!!!!

                                                      (I swear if any of you steak this idea I will hunt you down!!!)

                                                      1. re: jrvedivici

                                                        LOL! You're already a billionaire! You will rule the booze industry! So when is your first product coming to market? I know of a few alcoholics who have great need for it! '-)

                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                          Caroline darlin', I join you in a holiday toast to Jr!

                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                            Hey! I'll drink to that too!! Thanks Guys!

                                                        2. re: c oliver

                                                          It's quite the fad in wealthy circles to maim oneself with botox. Just look at Mrs. Mccain.

                                                          1. re: Chowrin

                                                            Most of them resemble poor embalming jobs, or they tried to kiss a speeding train and survived the experience.

                                                        3. re: 9lives

                                                          Moderate use of alcohol is pretty well confirmed as having specific, measurable health benefits.

                                                          But again, it's none of our business.

                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                            But, again, it's none of our business!

                                                            1. re: c oliver


                                                              And I'm pretty sure they're not buying it specifically for the cardiovascular benefits.

                                                              But it's nunnamybidness.

                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                You're talking about the non-SNAP recipients, right?

                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                  I don't follow... If you're talking welfare recipients, it's pretty typical for Medicaid and food stamps to be part of the benefits package. Or SSI, for the disabled who are indigent. That's what the chronically mentally ill typically end up with, and it's paid out of state welfare monies. Some folks might be on SSDI based on their work history, but also qualifying for food stamps.

                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                    Thanks for your info. But I was just being a twit and referring to non-welfare recipients abusing substances. Sorry.

                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                      Can we substitute the word "abuse" for over indulge? I don't want to feel like I'm an "abusive" person.

                                                            2. re: 9lives

                                                              but do we really want to go there? To tell people, not only what they may do with their food stamps, but what they must do with their "other" cash? Do we want to say, only generic brands of toilet paper please. Only water, no soda ever. Please no "fancy" cereals. Only store brand fiber cereals. Really? And as another poster wrote, let's make sure they are not keeping their house warmer than 68 degrees. Because *I'm* paying for it.

                                                              1. re: DGresh

                                                                Totally agree! And, hey, we turn our heat down to 50 at night and UP to 60 in the morning!!!!!

                                                              2. re: 9lives

                                                                A liittle reading tells me that firm numbers as to percent of SNAP recipients are alc or drug a busers is hard to come by, but the numbers run from 8 to 40 percent.

                                                                My anecdotal experience is that if one were to survey homeless, the numbers would be considerably higher.

                                                                As to how our tax $ is spent, maybe it isn't your business but it is mine. I don't have a direct say but I can vote for legislators that represent my interests. There is a limited pie and depending o Fed or State, the limited $ have to go to defense, schools, maintaining infrastructure, social service along with dozens of other essential functions. Every eligible voter has that right. It's not a requirement to be a taxpayer.

                                                                If the govt grants me a student loan, they have every right to require that I spend it on school. Same as with food stamps. There are income asset thresholds that define whether I qualify for these types of benefits. Of course, I hypothetically could misrepresent those numbers, but who would ever do that?

                                                                1. re: 9lives

                                                                  "A liittle reading tells me that firm numbers as to percent of SNAP recipients are alc or drug a busers is hard to come by, but the numbers run from 8 to 40 percent.

                                                                  My anecdotal experience is...."

                                                                  Please -- since anecdote *still* isn't the plural of data, would you share your sources? Particularly since there is such a vast difference between 8 and 40 percent.

                                                                  The pie is limited b/c the defense budget is completely overblown. And again, you seem to have zero issue with your tax dollars paying for corporate welfare, which costs *you* a lot more than any food stamp program.

                                                                  1. re: 9lives

                                                                    "If the govt grants me a student loan, they have every right to require that I spend it on school. Same as with food stamps."
                                                                    In what way, exactly, are said food stamps not being spent on food? (outside of the black market trade, which is already illegal).

                                                                    The first matter at hand in this discussion is whether it would be a good idea if food stamps were only redeemable for 'healthy' food choices... A suggestion somewhat troubling in its logistics, and in that for some of our poorest neighbors, it would constitute a de facto banning on making the same dietary choices most everyone else makes.

                                                                    The second matter... am I actually understanding this correctly?... is whether people who receive government assistance should be allowed to spend their own money on legal purchases as they desire.

                                                                    You do know that more or less everyone in the US receives government assistance in some form, right? I do. I'd bet the farm you do too.

                                                                    In either case though, food stamps are being spent on food.

                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                      I had an earlier post go MIA but one point I made is that I'm on Social Security and Medicare and I've gotten no notification that I can't drink alcohol.

                                                                    2. re: 9lives

                                                                      Let's not be disingenuous and separate homelessness from mental illness, particularly in the population in question. Having had experience with student loans, they can be had for living expenses, determined by the student, not the nanny state.

                                                                      I could have sworn I posted actual study results and analysis, not just personal "anecdote." Oh, yeah:

                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                        Ah, yes. The mysteriously disappearing post. A familiar experience :-D

                                                                        Apparently it is OT to try and put welfare "fraud" in relation to corporate welfare by providing links to facts and numbers.

                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                          Did you actually read the report you linked to?

                                                                          The results were firmly inconclusive.

                                                                          1. re: 9lives

                                                                            Yeah, I read it with an eye for nuance, subject selection and criteria employed for measurement.

                                                                            If you don't just skim for the punch line, and read for depth of understanding, you realize that's not the case.

                                                                        2. re: 9lives

                                                                          The government and others may have the "right" to require student loans be spent on education but it's not something that's written into the small print evidently.


                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                            I spent my student loans on my education. What was leftover went towards alcohol.

                                                                            1. re: porky pine

                                                                              Shame on you :) You should certainly have been flogged for that!

                                                                          2. re: 9lives

                                                                            Homeless people probably don't get that benefit. Even here in Canada, which still has better social programmes, it is hard for homeless people to qualify for social assistance.

                                                                          3. re: 9lives

                                                                            Actually, studies have shown that wealthier people drink more.

                                                                            It is pleasant to drink, in moderation. You have no way of knowing whether those people are abusers. It is possible that a friend or family member gave them some money as a holiday gift.

                                                                            When it is possible, I always buy a bottle of wine for Christmas food baskets.

                                                                            Moreover, while I don't live in the US, I don't believe food stamps are only for people on welfare. Many low-paid workers are entitled to them as well.

                                                                            1. re: lagatta

                                                                              Yes, and disabled people, and vets, and seniors.... none of whom apparently deserve a modicum of dignity.

                                                                    3. re: jpc8015

                                                                      Not really. Look at it this way: Those people also pay taxes. Trust me on this one! The SNAP program is designed to help those with a genuine and proven need to get assistance to buy the food they need. By simply looking at those people, why do you think that you know more than the government agency that investigates and approves their eligibility for SNAP? How do you know that they were not using the SNAP benefits to shop for a friend or family member who is physically handicapped and cannot go to the store for his/herself? How do you know that person is not a member of the military who qualifies for SNAP because his pays scale as an active member of our enlisted armed forces qualifies him/her for them? How can you stand in line and be so very judgmental of people?

                                                                      Even if there are a few who scam the program, they are very very far from the majority! Personally, I would rather feed one or two scammers in order to feed the poor and homeless, the victims of disasters, the physically and mentally handicapped, those souls who are chewed up and spit out by our society today, than I would be in favor of cutbacks to "crack down" on the very small percentage of those who do not honorably and with justification qualify for the SNAP program.

                                                                      I don't know about you, but I get my highs from helping people. Try it! You'll like it! '-)

                                                                2. re: jpc8015

                                                                  and should they flagellate themselves for having the need for foodstamps? do you want to also tell them where to live and what books to read, since the fact that they get foodstamps means that they must answer to you for every aspect of their lives? They are using the foodstamps for food. Get over it.

                                                                  1. re: jpc8015

                                                                    Do you honestly think the cost of a case of beer and a couple of bottles of wine was going to lift these people out of poverty? This attitude that the poors don't deserve to ever enjoy the smallest luxury is really prevalent and it makes me sad. Maybe they were buying it to celebrate a birthday, and ten people chipped in a couple of bucks apiece. Maybe they saved up. Maybe that amount of alcohol lasts them six months. Of course it's also possible they drink that amount every night and don't really need their benefits, but based on everything I've seen about SNAP fraud that's highly unlikely. Do you want to go home and check their thermostats too and make sure they aren't being profligate with with the heat while wasting "your" money on food?

                                                                    1. re: ErnieD

                                                                      I believe someone above referred to these as "vices."

                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                        I don't know where to place this so I'm just piggy backing here C, if you don't mind. I think we all suffer from a touch of "Afluenza"* which makes it very difficult to judge fairly.

                                                                        *except for those who have admitted to being benefit recipients

                                                                        1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                          Not a problem, j. I gotta say, while not as vehement about the subject as some, I started out reading this being a little more on the side of 'don't let 'em eat cake.' I've reversed that opinion. This has been and is a very valuable thread and hopefully others have evaluated their own thoughts on the subject.
                                                                          PS: That "affluenza" case makes me sick to my stomach.

                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                            Yeah, I had to work that in somehow it's an absolute abomination of our legal system and "class" system. If that's the way our country is headed, forget about the corporate welfare state things are far more askew on a much more lower level.

                                                                            But I digress from food, so let me tell you this C, I cooked all day today. (See my new thread on home cooking) I've also had a few* cocktails!

                                                                            *fingers crossed cause I lied, it's a lot more than a few

                                                                            1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                              HAHAHA! I'm on my way also :)

                                                                              The SNAP program (to be on topic) is too important to allow it to be further crippled with prejudices that aren't based on facts. later, gator, C

                                                                3. re: janniecooks

                                                                  I don't think you can assume that the Left is for food stamp laissez-faire. I am politically about as far left as you can get, and BTW I am also a social worker, and I absolutely favor purchase restrictions on food assistance. Not only are the giant bag of chips and the case of soda pop a bad nutritional message, they are also a terrible psychosocial message: "It's okay for you to regard life as playtime because that's all you're competent to do". Let's get a chicken going in the stew pot and have some noodles handy---let's feed the family a real dinner.

                                                                4. I've been saying for years that the Food Stamp program should be vouchers like WIC. I was a grocery store cashier in college and the stuff people would get on FS was amazing! For every one family that would actually buy food and make the most of their dollars there would be twenty buying complete crap. Not just pop, but the most expensive pop one can buy (cases of Mt. Dew....standard). I have also been saying for years that it would never change because big AG will never allow crap with a lot of CORN products (everything processed, at this point) to go off of the FS program. Everyone wants less welfare unless it's big AG profiting off of it.......

                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                  1. re: jes7o

                                                                    Consider that it could be: A) that junk food is cheapest and stretches the most B) the purchaser is not really knowledgable about healthy foods C) the purchaser does not have the facilities or equipment to prepare proper meals.

                                                                    1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                      Junk food is good for "relieving" stress, which a poor person is under.
                                                                      You try living in a food desert, folks. Have it take an hour each way to get real food home.

                                                                      1. re: Chowrin

                                                                        On public transportation and carrying your heavy groceries and pushng a stroller

                                                                    2. re: jes7o

                                                                      Here's a little hint for you: More Nutritious Food Is More Expensive.

                                                                      There was a local news story here some years back about two whistleblowers on the police force who were fired; they sued.

                                                                      One of them was asked what was most surprising about their lives since the problems began. He replied that he had gained 20 pounds, because money was tight and food that's nutritious costs more -- way more.

                                                                      1. re: jmckee

                                                                        "More Nutritious Food Is More Expensive"

                                                                        No it's not. Junk/cheap food is way over nutritious. That's why people on a very tight budget who live on it sometimes get a little porky.

                                                                        1. re: Robin Joy

                                                                          Nutritious doesn't mean high calories/fat/etc.

                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                            I know, I know. It's just that a lightly mischievous phrase in my family for someone, say, John Candy shaped is "a little overnourished"

                                                                            Didn't mean to make light of the issue jmckee.

                                                                            1. re: Robin Joy

                                                                              It couldn't be less funny. In fact, the most obese are often the most malnourished among us, particularly those living in poverty.

                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                And growing children need an adequate supply of protein to develop properly. Not to downplay the importance of vitamins and minerals, but it is well established that growing children who are deprived of the necessary quantity of protein in their diet will develop poorly. And by that I mean, significant cognitive deficits and other disorders from which they can never recover.

                                                                                1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                  And muscle mass and bone health, and good immunity. Fat and protein are essential, everything else is optional and a matter of choice.

                                                                    3. As people start to weigh in on this - have you ever applied for foodstamp benefits?

                                                                      Have you ever had that fun experience of sitting all day with your bank stubs, copy of your lease or mortgage, birth certificates, utility bills and pay stubs in a crowded, dirty county office waiting for your appointment for a low level beaurucrat to deem you eligible or in eligible for a card to buy food? To be threatened with loss of benefits and jail if the information is incorrect.

                                                                      It's goddamn humiliating. Do some people do it to live without hard work - absolutely. But the rest are trying to survive.

                                                                      The majority of recipients are missing hours from work to make sure they recertify for their benefits which happens every 6 months. Or they're elderly. Or serve our fucking country. Or work jobs that we haven't had to work or even worry about.

                                                                      That person with the cart of soda and chips - guess what - they're probably not going to smack the foie gras out your hand, or the coffee beans picked by elves or that prime, grass fed, organic free range meat out your basket.

                                                                      See the majority of people getting benefits paid their dues. I'm not going to judge them or their choices because they've already gone through enough. Just as I don't want someone judging my shit because you don't know jack about it.

                                                                      I have a millionaire aunt who wants to critique my food choices every goddamn time she's at my house. She's gluten free, non GMO, organic macrobiotic. I work my damnest to make sure she has choices to partake when she stays. But the last time she critiqued my pantry I took her to Whole Foods- had her pick out appropriate substitutes for what I had at home and quantities that matched our consumption rates and made a giant shopping list to the tune of $600 for about 2 weeks of food. Then I said to her, since she was so concerned about my family's eating - when can I expect her to send payment for this new lifestyle choice.

                                                                      I'm still couponing, shopping at Aldi, Harris Teeter and the Asian market.

                                                                      It's real easy to stand on a pedestal and look down at the choices of others, but when given a chance to do something is it one you are prepared for?

                                                                      I'm not cooking and planning meals for any one else's household.

                                                                      I pay my taxes but I can't tell the corn farmer how to work harder or the dairy farmer how to milk his cows or the giant agri conglomerate not to use hormones and pesticides to maximize their profit without giving us all cancer. I trust in that those government checks and balances are working and someone is making sure those corporate subsidies and tax breaks are doing the right thing for our GDP and economy. For the portion of "our tax dollars" that go to food stamps- it's a bit like my aunt, that $100 in the Christmas card is great and I'm ever so appreciative. But it's not enough to give her the right to dictate what or how I buy.
                                                                      Ill get off my soapbox now. Sorry for the rant.

                                                                      12 Replies
                                                                      1. re: ncghettogourmet

                                                                        And I'm just going to put this out there - if someone wants to link nutritional value to the health and public good. I will point out that we live in a society that despite there being more shooting related deaths that frighten and scare us, but there's still no universal background check.

                                                                        So how about this - if we are going to become a Nanny State even more and dictate food choices, lets go ahead and pass those gun laws restricting automatic weapons and making background checks and mental health checks mandatory. Certainly because as a tax payer I pay for the Emts that respond to shootings, those public hospital bills, not to mention the cost of police hours and judges/prosecutors who investigate gun related violence.

                                                                        It's easy to talk about loss of personal liberty when it's not your own at stake.

                                                                        1. re: ncghettogourmet

                                                                          Are you seriously going to attempt to equate my right to own and carry a firearm, which I bought and paid for, with your privilege to get food stamps, which I bought and paid for?

                                                                          In order to get a CC permit, a background check was performed, complete with fingerprinting at the sherrif's office, classes and tests that needed to be taken and passed. Payment of license fees, which must be renewed periodically. Each time I purchase a firearm, background checks are performed, and I pay for my own purchase. And the BGC is paid for by me.

                                                                          Even after all this, I am still not allowed to purchase any weapon I desire, there are restrictions. Why should food stamps be any different?

                                                                          1. re: Bigjim68

                                                                            Because some nut with an axe to grind never blew away a bunch of school kids with food stamps?

                                                                            1. re: Bigjim68

                                                                              No, my argument is that if we are going to become a Nanny state and dictate whats healthy or how people can spend foodstamps because of the justification of its our tax dollars, then fuck it lets go balls deep and do it. Lets not half ass and stop with the tired, hungry and poor, lets hit every population that ends up being a fiscal burden. So logically that was the gun industry. It just grinds my gears everytime someone with a gun decides to shoot innocent people. Don't they understand as a taxpayer I'm footing the bill for those emergency medical costs, I'm paying overtime for those first responders, that's network news coverage diverted that's interrupting my 5pm news intake. The nerve of those people. <sarcasm/>

                                                                              I think as a society when we begin to deprive rights from others we need to have a damn good reason. So my rights are just as equal as your rights sir. Now lets be very clear, I own guns and I don't receive foodstamps. I pray that my financial situation maintains so I don't have to worry about this being a personal right. However as an American citizen who has been deprived of my rights arbitrarily in other social aspects, I will wholeheartedly support protecting those who are usually not in a position to defend themselves.

                                                                                1. re: ncghettogourmet

                                                                                  I don't think gun control legislation is about becoming a Nanny State. But I do think telling food stamp recipients that they can't be used for Doritos is.

                                                                                2. re: Bigjim68

                                                                                  It's $200 to the guvmint to buy a tank. Whyfor you need an assault rifle, dude?

                                                                                  1. re: Bigjim68

                                                                                    There have to be some rules for a sane society to function, surely Bigjim? An easy example is what if we could drive on whichever side of the road we chose? Everyone accepts that sensible regulation is required for this, and for my money the same should apply to firearms. Both examples can have a direct effect on others around you and simply cannot be left to a "I want to so I will" approach.

                                                                                    Sorry Mods, way off topic!

                                                                                    1. re: Robin Joy

                                                                                      Yeah, this is another of those sub-threads that is probably branching too far from food. We'd appreciate it if we could keep the conversation a little more focused. Thanks!

                                                                                      1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                        O Chowhound Team, food IS about poverty and self-esteem and showing off and making it finally and relationships and comfort and family history and travels afar. It's also about anger and retaliation and resistance---bad stuff as well as good. What could possibly be more about life than food? Let us chat here about more than meat and potatoes.

                                                                                3. re: ncghettogourmet

                                                                                  I remember waiting all day in the 80's when I first started out. I got 7 bucks a month and still made minimum wage.

                                                                                  1. re: ncghettogourmet

                                                                                    We don't have food stamps anywhere in Canada, as far as I know, but at one point several years ago I did apply for welfare. It was NOT a matter of not having worked in my case, but of a client going bankrupt and not paying me what they owed me for freelance work.

                                                                                    I had to go around a huge humiliating rigamarole to prove I had no income. Never got it; had more work before I was ever able to prove my need. Went rather hungry...

                                                                                    This is a nightmare I hope I never have to endure again. It is NOT easy to get on benefits. This has the perverse effect of preventing some, especially with dependent children, from finding short-term employment because the whole procedure is a nightmare.

                                                                                  2. I think it's very important to teach folks who are receiving food stamps how to use them to feed their families to the best advantage. Not nearly enough of that is done.

                                                                                    It's demeaning enough for most recipients that they have to rely on the assistance. Pretty hard to tell them what they MUST NOT buy...

                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                      SNAP-Ed is available to people who receive (or are eligible for) SNAP. I can only speak for what is done in New York it is run through Cooperative Extension sites. Educators are community members, many who have previously participated in classes and 'walked the walk', so to speak.

                                                                                      These classes are meant to be participatory, not derogatory, and teach/reinforce budgeting/cooking/meal planning skills that can increase comfort level with affordable, "healthy" staples.

                                                                                      1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                        Chef June, while this is certainly the ideal, and as an ideal I would endorse it, but the reality is that the vast bulk of those who receive food stamps would be heavily penalized if they had to take time off from their low paying Walmart, Kroger, and fast food jobs to attend the classes.

                                                                                        It is a problem that is so vast I can't see any hope for simple answers. You push down on one problem and three dozen more pop up. My heart bleeds for the young working parents who have lost their jobs, their homes, their hopes, who are now working for subsistence wages who must rely on food stamps, and have no time to cook for their family because they are so very busy scrambling to keep body and soul together.

                                                                                        I know people -- friends -- who were totally wiped out by the 2005 economic crash, have lost their million dollar homes to foreclosure, and are now, despite their degrees and qualifications, working at minimum wage jobs and whom I worry about greatly because depression has them teetering on the edge of suicidal thoughts and they can no longer afford or even access healthcare.

                                                                                        It *IS* a major problem. Can it be addressed effectively? God, I hope so, but I have nagging doubts...

                                                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                          Some of those people, with all their education and degrees and other qualifications, can't even find jobs at WalMart. It's tragic! The market is just terrible, even for minimum wage jobs! Those working full time at minimum wage jobs still need SNAP benefits (Food Stamps) to feed themselves and/or their families.

                                                                                          1. re: KailuaGirl

                                                                                            I had a doctor appointment yesterday, and when I was called into the treatment room to wait to see her, what to my wondering eyes did appear? a recent issue of Time magazine with the cover story of how the financial crisis of 2005 could easily happen again! At any moment.

                                                                                            No wonder I have a subscription to just about every news magazine invented by man but hide from them! They scare the hell out of me...!!! <sigh>

                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                              In which case you should steer clear of The Economist, the most prescient of them all, and hardly optimistic at the moment. I think you know I am a contributor..:)

                                                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                I wish I could figure out an emoticon with a tear rolling down the cheek!