A Quick Question

It never fails: Every time I see a discussion of SNAP on my news feed, I jump into the fray. The discussions are always the same–it’s always about the people who abuse the program. As if it’s rampant. As if the SNAP program doesn’t have one of the lowest rates of abuse of all the the myriad social assistant programs.

There is always at least one person talking about this person that they know that is abusing the program, usually by selling their benefits to buy drugs.

My question is, why do these stories never end with “…so I reported them for it, and the person got their SNAP card taken away. They’re now in rehab, and the person that kept buying their food stamps got hit with a nice, big fine.”?

Hmm.

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The Food Stamp Crusaders

Nothing gets people worked up like food stamps. And no one is subjected to the Everyman’s ignorant opinion more than those who are on food stamps.

The individual or family using food stamps can never win. You see, food stamps, contrary to popular opinion, do not provide enough for someone to buy nothing but fresh produce and healthy cuts of meat. It does not provide an individual or family enough to live the foodie high life by eating lobster and steak every night. You either eat healthy some of the time, and go hungry the rest, or you eat processed, canned, junk food, and (if you’re a carnivore) whatever cheap cuts the local grocery offers, and keep your belly full the whole month.

Those who have an issue with the poor and food stamps will have a problem either way, and they will tell you so every time you stand in line at checkout. If you buy seafood or steak from the meat department, you get blasted for “wasting” tax dollars on expensive food. If you buy processed, canned, frozen “junk,” you get blasted for “wasting” tax dollars on contributing to America’s “obesity crisis.”

It’s a humiliating endeavor for food stamp users every step of the way. Heartless, cruel, ignorant people will take out every frustration they have with the government out on the poor soul simply trying to feed themselves and their families.

What is wrong here is not that a struggling family will occasionally spring for a steak. No, the issue is much, more broader than that. What is the problem here is that healthy food is expensive, while unhealthy food is cheap. Government subsidies are given to those farmers that create ingredients (like high fructose corn syrup) that make food so unhealthy.

What is wrong here is that lower income individuals and families cannot afford to buy healthy food–making one of the most important aspects of healthy living a luxury for the economically well-off. Where are our priorities? Why is healthy food a luxury that is out of reach for so many people?

Demonizing those using government assistance doesn’t make one a righteous crusader. It makes one a self-righteous prick with mixed-up priorities.