In May of 1939, an unemployed factory worker named Mabel McFiggin was the first person to take advantage of an experimental program during the Great Depression era. The government would support farm prices by purchasing wheat and other products and then distribute them to aid the needy. Recipients of the program would purchase orange stamps that could be used to purchase any food items and in return would be given for free, half that amount in blue stamps that could only be used for designated surplus foods. Only the very poor were able to receive both the orange and the blue stamps without any form of payment. Approximately 20 million people took advantage of the program up until the year 1943 when the program was stopped. The economy saw improvement and the program dwindled to the point where it was no longer needed. 70 years later, a program designed to feed the hungry, shows a much different picture.
Today, over 47 Million people participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). They no longer have to purchase stamps in order to receive assistance. In 1977 Congress changed a program put into place to assist those in need by no longer requiring a recipient to pay for the stamps. All recipients were to receive them for free. In the late 1990’s, many states started phasing out the actual stamp in favor of a debit type card in order to lower the costs of printing the stamps, reduce the waiting time for the recipient to receive their benefits (as they would become available immediately) and to help reduce theft. The 2008 Farm Bill would later change the name of the program from the Food Stamp program to SNAP. References to the words “stamps” and “coupons” were replaced in federal law to “card” or “EBT”. The EBT card has proven effective as far as accomplishing its intended purposes.
Over the years, we have seen many cases of EBT abuse. There are many stories of recipients using their cards to purchase items like steak and lobster. In fact, it isn’t uncommon to hear those that are not participants of the program to make the claim that those that do receive the benefits, “eat better” than they do. In some cases, EBT cards have been reported as being used in casinos and strip clubs. Regardless of its use, it appears that a record number of Americans are benefiting from the food assistance program. Its intent is to help those in need of assistance, including America’s children.
Last year, the government provided 161 million meals to children in the summer.
Authorized and funded by Congress in the year 2010, the Summer Electronic Benefit for Children (SEBTC) program was first tested to provide a monthly benefit to these children during the summer months when school lunches were not available. Although these programs are intended to provide benefits to millions of low-income children, the USDA contends that it will reach far less children than the current school programs. This year, the USDA is continuing their efforts on the testing of “new methods” for the program by setting a goal to reach 5 million more children than in the previous year. Last summer in a similar program, eight States and two Indian tribes participated in a program designed for the children of low-income families. This program was to test the use of EBT cards for children. “As part of its efforts to end child hunger, [the Food and Nutrition Service] FNS is studying alternative approaches to providing food assistance to children in the summer months,” the USDA said. And how are they doing this? They will be giving our children their very own EBT card.
First of all, I believe that the American people are a good people. We are compassionate and send money from our already tight budgets whenever there is a crisis. We don’t just take care of our own in a crisis as we often send what we have to those in need all over the world. We step up to the plate and give a helping hand whenever there is a need. And no one would want our very own children to go hungry.
But is giving a child a government assisted benefits card a necessary measure in their attempt to feed our nation’s children? The current school programs have been around for quite some time and they do not require that a child have a government assisted card in order to get a free meal. What kind of message does this send them? What are we teaching them? These programs should be used as a last resort and not taught to our children as a way of life. Oh I’m sure we’ll hear it from those on the Left if we dare to challenge this. I’m sure we will hear about how we are trying to starve” the poor” American children. The point will be lost in their attempt to raise a generation of government dependents. It seems to me that we should be teaching them how to be self sufficient instead of teaching them how to become government dependents. Regardless, look for this to be a topic in the next election. Democrats will seize the opportunity to capitalize on this especially if we on the right oppose it.