In some parts of the country, as few as 1 in 20 people receive food stamps. In others, the figure is more than 1 in 3. Low-income households that meet SNAP eligibility requirements receive a payment card that can only be used to buy government-approved essential foods.
Under President Obama’s watch, the value of the benefits distributed by the program each year has more than doubled as more people have fallen below the poverty line and more households have joined the program. Obama has expanded eligibility under the theory that it helps the economy, which led Newt Gingrich to dub him the “food stamp president” early in the 2012 election season.
According to the latest data from 2010, 6,683 residents of Upshur County or about 16 percent of the population received SNAP benefits. That proportion had grown 173 percent since 2000. Participants in this county received $9.215 million in benefits, an average of $1,466 per person per year or $122 per person per month.
These beneficiaries of SNAP received a benefits cut starting Nov. 1. The 2009 Recovery Act’s temporary boost to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits ended as of that date, resulting in a cut for every SNAP household. For families of three, the cut comes to $29 a month — a total of $319 for November 2013 through September 2014, the remaining months of fiscal year 2014 That’s not a trivial loss, especially in light of the very low amount of basic SNAP benefits. Without the Recovery Act’s boost, SNAP benefits will average less than $1.40 per person per meal in 2014. Nationally, the total cut is estimated to be $5 billion in fiscal year 2014.
It seems unlikely that Congress will enact legislation to remedy this problem, as President Obama and some members of Congress have proposed. Consequently, more demands will be made on local charities such as the Upshur County Shares Food Pantry.
There is a famous saying that “if you don’t work, you don’t eat.”
In an economy where there are not that many good-paying jobs left and tens of millions are unemployed or underemployed (and are also attempting to raise children in many cases), it would be “interesting” (in the sense of the Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times”) to see what would happen if that verse from the Bible were to be interpreted literally.