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The Food Stamp challenge

The Food Stamp challenge

“If we think we are feeding anybody on $31.50 a week, we need to think again.”

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Stefan Jagoe

Leave it to the Episcopal Church to blast the food stamp program in the U.S. rather than be grateful to God that we live in such a country where at least there is an attempt, however in adequate one thinks that may be, by government to assist its poor. Perhaps we could work to improve the SNAP program, and start placing more emphasis on ministering to the spiritual needs of people. There is no government office that can do that. Giving people bread is well and good - but they cannot live by that alone. That's where we come in, and frankly, I think we are not doing a very good job of it.

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Weiwen Ng

It's not just that Food Stamps are a pretty small benefit. There are other access issues:

1. One usually has to apply in person at a welfare office. n applicant has to take time off of work to show up to the interview - that's lost income. For many people at the upper end of the income range, it's often not worth the opportunity cost.

2. The application is confusing (I've helped people fill them out). It's hard to estimate how much a person is likely to receive in benefits.

3. Some states still impose an asset test. That means that people may have to deplete their savings before they can qualify for Food Stamps. That's far from ideal - now that pensions are on the decline, we're supposed to save for retirement. (To my incomplete knowledge, many states once counted assets in retirement plans; I'm not sure how this practice has evolved, although some states may have stopped doing so.) I think the majority of states have eliminated asset tests for Food Stamps. The rest of state should join them. Yes, you'll get a handful of millionaires* getting on Food Stamps, but that seems an acceptable price to pay.

* Financial assets often generate interest, dividends or capital gains. All of these would be counted as income, so it's not likely that any very wealthy people who had lost their jobs would be able to qualify for Food Stamps anyway.

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Peter Pearson

This is profound.

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