Monday, February 28, 2011

S.N.A.P.

Food stamp use always sparks tense debate.  Spectators always point to anecdotal evidence of somebody abusing the system or making unwise food purchases.  Their outrage is justified, supposedly, because its their tax dollars that are buying chips, pizzas and specialty chocolate items for the purported undeserving among us.  

Critics suggest allowing only the basics:  fruits, vegetables, fresh meats, poultry, and perhaps store brand items.  To narrow down the list of allowable foods, it would take an act of Congress.  But our representatives would surely rather avoid the inevitable backlash, nevermind the bureaucratic toll, if such a task were undertaken.

Most who qualify for the Lone Star Card are relegated to a certain standard of living.  Their housing, transportation and schooling will border on substandard.  They will be afforded an existense on the fringes of society.  Our clamorous rebukes seek to further alienate them by having them shop in certain sections of a grocery store.  It's only fair because it's what they deserve, right?

A $5 box of candy is probably not a wise purchase for somebody on food stamps.  But who am I to make that determination?  I have no clue what people are going through.  They might splurge in the short term and then starve in the long run.  Benefits only stretch so much for a month.

Here are some numbers that can possibly put things into perspective, maybe not:
(Via the Texas Health and Human Services Commission)

$405 million in food benefits were given out to 3.3 million Texans last year.

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