Newark, NJ, mayor goes on food stamps
But many people who are eligible for the benefit don't apply.
Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers what known officially as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), shows that roughly 1 in 4 people eligible to receive the benefits don't get them. The reasons why vary. According to the Food Action and Research Center, many people may not know that their eligible while others don't bother to participate because applying for benefits is a gigantic hassle.
"According to one USDA study, four times as many people drop out of the application
process as complete the process but are denied benefits," according to a report issued by the non-profit. "The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that some households, including those with eligible children, have had difficulty obtaining food stamp benefits because state and local governments limited benefits beyond the scope of what the law permits."
Another reason for the poor participation rate may be pride. I have never met anyone on public assistance who is pleased to be on the government dole. These people would much rather be working and supporting themselves and their families. But as anyone who has lived through the worst economic slowdown since the Great Depression knows, things don't always work out as people would like.
Earlier this year, the Obama administration unveiled a public relations blitz to get more people to enroll, which did not sit well with some political conservatives because the number of Americans receiving Food Stamps rose by more than 200% between 2000 and 2011 while spending surged by nearly 400%, according to the Heritage Foundation. Welfare spending is a focal point in the debate over the so-called Fiscal Cliff that's going on in Congress. Some cuts will need to be made but let's hope they are done smartly and don't damage programs that really do help the poor such as Food Stamps.
As Booker, who many expect to challenge New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie next year, will soon discover being dependent on the government for food isn't easy. The average benefit works out to about $4 a day, which doesn't leave much room for applicants to buy "extravagances" such as fresh fruit and vegetables. The food they can easily afford is the unhealthy stuff, which partially explains our country's soaring obesity rates.
--Follow Jonathan Berr on Twitter@jdberr.
I own a convenience store and OFTEN have 4 large Red Bulls and candy totalling over $20 put on a customer's EBT card. I witness primarly junk food and soda, items my kids can't afford to buy, being purchased. Qualifying items should be restricted.
The system is a abused and full of fraud. Being a state social worker for Florida in Miami I was one a group that was assigned the responsibility of getting the food stamp program up and running in Miami. Within one week of opening the first food stamp office some low life were finding ways to commit fraud by lying about the size of their family and income. On top of that
a black market started almost immediately where these so called needy people would sell their stamps for 50 cents on the dollar so they could buy beer and cigarettes two forbidden items for
food stamp use. This still goes on today with some people having as many as 5 different ID cards. There are certain groups of people in our country where cheating and lying is a way of life and they are shameless. These thieves ruin it for people that really need the assistance.
A lot of times people don't get the assistance they're eligible for is they are too lazy to complete the necessary paperwork. I work in low income housing and see it every day. People want the government to support them completely but then bitch and complain when they have to fill out some paperwork once a year.
It should be difficult to get on the government dole. Really difficult. Raising benefits or making it easier to apply, or the government spending tax dollars encouraging people to apply only serves one purpose. And that is to get an ever enlarging voting constituency.
Once people get on the dole, they find ways to get around the rules, work under the table and pocket all those tax free benefits too. And then they are hooked for life, just like the addict or smoker. There are web sites and other sources that explain every way imaginable to skirt the rules and cheat and how to game the system.
Don't be fooled by those saying the last thing anyone wants is to be on the dole. If that were so, why are there millions on the dole for years, years and more years?
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