Black People : 1/3 of us on Food Stamps?

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by Ankhur, Nov 29, 2009.

  1. Ankhur

    Ankhur Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Oct 4, 2009
    Likes Received:
    owner of various real estate concerns
    +3,005 / -0
    The Safety Net
    Across U.S., Food Stamp Use Soars and Stigma Fades
    Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

    A GROWING NEED FOR A PROGRAM ONCE SCORNED Greg Dawson and his wife, Sheila, of Martinsville, Ohio, help feed their family of seven with a $300 monthly food stamp benefit. Center and right, the food pantry in Lebanon, Ohio, where residents can also enroll in what is formally called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. More Photos >

    Published: November 28, 2009
    MARTINSVILLE, Ohio — With food stamp use at record highs and climbing every month, a program once scorned as a failed welfare scheme now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children.

    The Safety Net
    A Program Once Scorned
    With millions of jobs lost and major industries on the ropes, America’s array of government aid — including unemployment insurance, food stamps and cash welfare — is being tested as never before. This series examines how the safety net is holding up under the worst economic crisis in decades.

    It has grown so rapidly in places so diverse that it is becoming nearly as ordinary as the groceries it buys. More than 36 million people use inconspicuous plastic cards for staples like milk, bread and cheese, swiping them at counters in blighted cities and in suburbs pocked with foreclosure signs.

    Virtually all have incomes near or below the federal poverty line, but their eclectic ranks testify to the range of people struggling with basic needs. They include single mothers and married couples, the newly jobless and the chronically poor, longtime recipients of welfare checks and workers whose reduced hours or slender wages leave pantries bare.

    While the numbers have soared during the recession, the path was cleared in better times when the Bush administration led a campaign to erase the program’s stigma, calling food stamps “nutritional aid” instead of welfare, and made it easier to apply. That bipartisan effort capped an extraordinary reversal from the 1990s, when some conservatives tried to abolish the program, Congress enacted large cuts and bureaucratic hurdles chased many needy people away.

    From the ailing resorts of the Florida Keys to Alaskan villages along the Bering Sea, the program is now expanding at a pace of about 20,000 people a day.

    There are 239 counties in the United States where at least a quarter of the population receives food stamps, according to an analysis of local data collected by The New York Times.

    The counties are as big as the Bronx and Philadelphia and as small as Owsley County in Kentucky, a patch of Appalachian distress where half of the 4,600 residents receive food stamps.

    In more than 750 counties, the program helps feed one in three blacks. In more than 800 counties, it helps feed one in three children. In the Mississippi River cities of St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans, half of the children or more receive food stamps. Even in Peoria, Ill. — Everytown, U.S.A. — nearly 40 percent of children receive aid.

    While use is greatest where poverty runs deep, the growth has been especially swift in once-prosperous places hit by the housing bust. There are about 50 small counties and a dozen sizable ones where the rolls have doubled in the last two years. In another 205 counties, they have risen by at least two-thirds. These places with soaring rolls include populous Riverside County, Calif., most of greater Phoenix and Las Vegas, a ring of affluent Atlanta suburbs, and a 150-mile stretch of southwest Florida from Bradenton to the Everglades.

    Although the program is growing at a record rate, the federal official who oversees it would like it to grow even faster.

    “I think the response of the program has been tremendous,” said Kevin Concannon, an under secretary of agriculture, “but we’re mindful that there are another 15, 16 million who could benefit.”

    Nationwide, food stamps reach about two-thirds of those eligible, with rates ranging from an estimated 50 percent in California to 98 percent in Missouri. Mr. Concannon urged lagging states to do more to enroll the needy, citing a recent government report that found a sharp rise in Americans with inconsistent access to adequate food.

    “This is the most urgent time for our feeding programs in our lifetime, with the exception of the Depression,” he said. “It’s time for us to face up to the fact that in this country of plenty, there are hungry people.”

    The program’s growing reach can be seen in a corner of southwestern Ohio where red state politics reign and blue-collar workers have often called food stamps a sign of laziness. But unemployment has soared, and food stamp use in a six-county area outside Cincinnati has risen more than 50 percent.

    With most of his co-workers laid off, Greg Dawson, a third-generation electrician in rural Martinsville, considers himself lucky to still have a job. He works the night shift for a contracting firm, installing freezer lights in a chain of grocery stores. But when his overtime income vanished and his expenses went up, Mr. Dawson started skimping on meals to feed his wife and five children.

    He tried to fill up on cereal and eggs. He ate a lot of Spam. Then he went to work with a grumbling stomach to shine lights on food he could not afford. When an outreach worker appeared at his son’s Head Start program, Mr. Dawson gave in.

    “It’s embarrassing,” said Mr. Dawson, 29, a taciturn man with a wispy goatee who is so uneasy about the monthly benefit of $300 that he has not told his parents. “I always thought it was people trying to milk the system. But we just felt like we really needed the help right now.”

    The outreach worker is a telltale sign. Like many states, Ohio has campaigned hard to raise the share of eligible people collecting benefits, which are financed entirely by the federal government and brought the state about $2.2 billion last year.

    By contrast, in the federal cash welfare program, states until recently bore the entire cost of caseload growth, and nationally the rolls have stayed virtually flat. Unemployment insurance, despite rapid growth, reaches about only half the jobless (and replaces about half their income), making food stamps the only aid many people can get — the safety net’s safety net.

    Support for the food stamp program reached a nadir in the mid-1990s when critics, likening the benefit to cash welfare, won significant restrictions and sought even more. But after use plunged for several years, President Bill Clinton began promoting the program, in part as a way to help the working poor. President George W. Bush expanded that effort, a strategy Mr. Obama has embraced.

    The revival was crowned last year with an upbeat change of name. What most people still call food stamps is technically the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

    By the time the recession began, in December 2007, “the whole message around this program had changed,” said Stacy Dean of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington group that has supported food stamp expansions. “The general pitch was, ‘This program is here to help you.’ ”

    Now nearly 12 percent of Americans receive aid — 28 percent of blacks, 15 percent of Latinos and 8 percent of whites. Benefits average about $130 a month for each person in the household, but vary with shelter and child care costs.

    In the promotion of the program, critics see a sleight of hand.

    “Some people like to camouflage this by calling it a nutrition program, but it’s really not different from cash welfare,” said Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, whose views have a following among conservatives on Capitol Hill. “Food stamps is quasi money.”

    full article;
  2. Bootzey

    Bootzey Well-Known Member MEMBER

    United States
    Feb 26, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Don't Ask
    Metro ATL
    +842 / -3
    I read that earlier. I guess its news that white folks on food stamps.
  3. Khasm13

    Khasm13 STAFF STAFF

    United States
    Mar 26, 2003
    Likes Received:
    +4,462 / -8
    ish...i wish i could get some food stamps....

    one love