Our poor, elderly would suffer most


July 15, 2013 - 12:00 AM

By and large, conservative Republicans see the food stamp program as enabling “moochers” to freeload off the government.
Never mind that unemployment continues to hover at 7.6 percent -— for those actively seeking work. That equates to 4.6 million adults.
No, we have not bounced back from the recession. Not even close.
So for the Republican majority in the House of Representatives to strip the food stamp program from the farm bill says we as a country are not our brother’s keeper.
Since the year 2000, the number of U.S. citizens in need of assistance to put food on the table has increased five-fold. In Kansas, 300,000 citizens now rely on food stamps, formally called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
About 15 percent of Allen Countians rely on food stamps, averaging $86 per individual per month. Of those, the majority are elderly. Yes, 59 percent of our children receive free and reduced-price lunches at school, but by and large Allen County is an aging demographic. Of our 13,319 citizens, almost 20 percent are 65 and older while those 5 and younger comprise only 6 percent of our population. Still, it’s a sad commentary that of those 6 percent, more than half come from low-income homes.
Conservatives rail the food stamp program is an “enabler.” That somehow $125.11 a month for a Kansas family of four is encouraging them to live off our largess.
Oh, come on.
In Allen County, 25 percent of children live in households that are unsure of where their next meal is coming from.
Look at our Meals on Wheels program, busting at the seams for help in both funds and manpower to feed an increasing number of senior citizens who rely on the program for their main meal of the day.
It’s an insult to the working poor, the unemployed, and, especially, the elderly to say they are taking advantage of the food stamp program. It’s a sure bet here in Allen County each of us has first-hand knowledge of someone who relies on the program.
Ask any teacher, nurse, minister or police officer and they can rattle off a list of families who subsist by the slimmest of margins.

THE FATE of SNAP is unknown. Even those solely interested in farming were not keen for the nutrition element to be stripped from the farm bill. Since the 1970s the two programs have been worked in tandem to appeal to both urban and rural interests.
At church Sunday, the theologian Cornel West was quoted as saying, “Justice is what love looks like in public.”
Justice was not served.
— Susan Lynn

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