In 2012, the Food Stamp program in America cost $78.4 billion dollars. A number of politicians are calling for reductions to the Food Stamp program and they have been successful in reducing benefits to the most needy among us.
The Food Stamp program will be reduced by $8 billion dollars over the next 10 years. Certain media outlets, groups and politicians have been successful at vilifying Americans who have utilized the Food Stamp program by exploiting a variety of cultural stereotypes. The profile often has included minorities, young women and young women who are unmarried and have children.
The actual distribution of Food Stamps reveals that about 50 percent of recipients are children, 10 percent are disabled and 10 percent are over 60 years old. The faltering American economy has left many Americans unable to adequately feed themselves or their children. Contrary to the image conjured up by Food Stamp opponents, most recipients are people that all of us might know in our community. Many are among the working poor that have not been able to keep up with increases in the cost of living especially sharp increase in food costs.
Almost 70 percent of Food Stamps go to children, the disabled and the elderly and it is unlikely that these Americans as a whole will be able to improve their financial position greatly given their obvious limitations. In 2012, 46.8 million Americans or one in seven Americans received Food Stamps according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
While there may be individuals that take advantage of the Food Stamp program, it is clear that the Food Stamp program is important to an array of vulnerable Americans who have a limited ability to improve their individual positions. Most measures of the Food Stamp program reveal that the program is providing important and essential aid to struggling children, families, the disabled and the elderly.
Clearly, American children have benefited the most as nutrition is essential to normal brain and body development in young children. Around the world, there is an abundance of examples of governments that have not or will not support the poor within their country and the outcomes are appalling and long lasting.
My daughter visited Africa earlier this year and observed firsthand the effect of extreme poverty on children. These difficulties are not short lived and will carry on into adulthood for many of these starving children. Some that are profoundly afflicted will become, ironically, another segment of the population that will need to be supported by the government. I cannot imagine that any American would allow the most vulnerable among us to suffer such a terrible fate.
America is not a struggling third world nation, but rather the wealthiest nation on the planet. Members of our national political apparatus are telling the citizens that they need to learn how to “reinvent” themselves to make them more competitive in this new world economy. For the majority of Food Stamp recipients, children, the disabled and the elderly, this may be a difficult or nearly impossible task given the actual and functional limitations of this group of Americans.
Certainly we all hope that the economy will improve and many more Americans will no longer need Food Stamps or the aid found at Food Pantries. In the meantime, Food Stamp recipients are our neighbors, America’s children, disabled and elderly; they need our help right now and should receive it.
Remember, all kids count.
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