Monday, August 19, 2013

Robert Wilkerson: Taking food from the poor

  There they go again, picking on the poor and defenseless. A recent Farm Bill pushed by Republicans would give billions of dollars in subsidies to large corporate landowners, while cutting the food stamp (SNAP) program so deeply that five million people would be kicked off. Most of those who would lose benefits (83 percent) are already living below the poverty line. In Alabama, about 910,000 people would lose their benefits on November 1, 2013.

  According to a study by the Health Impact Project, cutting food stamps would do far more harm than good. The program generates economic returns far greater than the cost, producing around $1.70 in economic activity for every dollar spent. That makes it one of the best ways to stimulate economic activity through government programs.

  In the end, cutting the food stamp program would cost us much more than it would save. Previous research has shown that children who receive food stamps become healthier adults than low-income kids who grow up without food help. The report predicts that the cuts will cause a $15 billion increase over ten years in healthcare costs related to diabetes, not counting the increased incidence of heart disease, asthma, and various mental health problems.

  We are not talking about lazy people who simply won’t work. Fraud in the food stamp program has been reduced to only one percent. We are talking about people who have tried hard to find work and the jobs aren’t there. We are talking about hard-working people working jobs that do not pay a fair wage, or provide benefits. We are talking about people who work two or more jobs who still aren’t making it. We are talking about homes with elderly, disabled, and single parent families. The average monthly total income for a food stamp family is only $731 a month.

  Some of you who have no compassion for people who receive food stamps should try living on $731 a month for a while, then come back and tell us how food stamps aren’t needed.

  About the author: Dr. Robert Wilkerson is a minister, writer, and founder of People for the Christian Way, an organization whose mission is to encourage all people to practice Christian principles in business, politics, and every area of life. Drbobwilkerson[at],

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