The Department of Agriculture will distribute and estimated $81 Billion dollars in food stamps under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) this year. Last year they distributed $78 Billion. Yes, that is Billion with a B. It is now estimated that almost 15% of all American homes receive food stamps and the food stamp budget has increased by over 100% since 2008. Not that I begrudge anyone food stamps. I think that food stamps play a vital part in allowing people with low incomes to get the access to affordable and healthy food for themselves and their families. I myself was once on food stamps when the money I earned would not stretch to include things more than Top Ramen. The government helped me out, and gave me food stamps for a while. During that time, I was able to change my circumstances and earn more money and had no more need for food stamps. But I was happy to have them during that time so that I could afford red meat, pasta, milk, eggs, and the like. These things are necessities but what happens when people misuse their food stamps to buy over processed and empty calories. The food stamp program was never designed to fill your cart with chips, snack cakes, and microwave dinners. These kinds of things don’t fill you up nor do they provide the kind of nourishment you need, but they are allowed. People have even used their food stamps to purchase alcohol and cigarettes. This is an indefensible use for something designed to supplement your grocery budget. But now we are going further.
Lobbyists with the fast food companies around the United States are pushing Congress to accept food stamps at their places of business. Fast food chains in Florida, California, Michigan, and Arizona have all received the green light to accept food stamps in lieu of cash for their luxury items. I’m sorry, but fast food is just that, there for luxury, their for convenience. When the economy starts to suffer one of the first places it is felt is at restaurants and other businesses that rely heavily on disposable income. Now, since when did food stamps qualify as disposable income. Food at restaurants has a much higher markup than food at the grocery store, so eating out with your food stamps would deplete that resource sooner, which would make these people clamor for more money to “feed” their families, and more expenditure in tax dollars out of our collective pockets. How long would it be before the drive through became the permanent replacement for the grocery cart for these people hell-bent on using and abusing everything the government is willing to give them.
You know I once saw a joke that said the Department of Agriculture through the USDA bragged about how much assistance in food stamps they gave out and compared it to the signs left out by the U.S. Forestry Service, also part of the Dept. of Agriculture) about not giving food to the animals as it would upset their diets. Maybe we should take that joke to heart and rethink where we are taking this food stamp thing.