Make Your Mark For Equal Social Services

This morning a neighbor came by. She had a friendly smile and held a plastic bag in front with one hand and held her other hand behind her back. I tried to get a peek at what she was hiding but couldn’t see. I figured it was copies of Watchtower and Awake! since she usually brings them buy once a month. She asked if we would like some cucumbers and banana peppers. I said sure and offered yellow squash we had grown in exchange.

This neighbor is a Jehovah’s Witness. On a basic neighborly level we get along. My husband has helped her and her husband by cleaning out gutters, trimming tree limbs, and watering their lawn from time to time. She’s pleasant when she comes over. We both have diabetes. I don’t agree with her faith and I’m sure she wouldn’t agree with mine if she knew I was a Pagan and made offerings and danced with the spirits and elements in my backyard. (I’m really smiling at that one.) My husband learned from talking with her that Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Christianity should be the only religion and the main government of the world. We aren’t sure how that would work. She also, like others of her faith, feel that Armageddon will happen at anytime. The theme of the Awake! publication this time was safe food.

Latter today I got the mail and it was free paper day which is sales adds and news highlights from the local paper The Houston Herald. One of the headlines read “Senate hopeful supports end to food stamps.” U.S. Rep. Todd Adkin (Republican) in a primary debate “decried millions in federal spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.”

In the US, Food Stamps now known at SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) aids low-income people buy food. It is a federal government program but the funds distributions and some regulations are controlled by state or local agencies.

Rep Akin also said, “The food stamp budget had gone up while we’re cutting defense. There’s something wrong with that.” After the debate he explained it would be best to phase the program out.

I am infuriated for two reasons. The first is that he would prefer to highly fund wars over our own citizens. Two, he is ignoring the fact that the SNAP budget rose because there was a greater need. According to the US Census Poverty Report on page 18 from 2009 until 2012 “the poverty rate and number in poverty for people aged 18 to 64 with a disability rose from 25.0 percent and 3.7 million to 27.9 percent and 4.2 million.” And that’s just people with disabilities.

Other comments from debate participants included federal aid for food are best delivered on a local level and federal government should roll back spending on the “dependency class”. Just who is the dependency class? Would that be the 15.9 percent of citizens in poverty who are disabled? (U.S. Census)

Let’s hypothesis what it would be like if local government controlled food aid for residents in need. What if people such as my neighbor were making the regulations?Would there be religious requirements such as attending church? This would cause individuals and families of various belief or none belief to chose conversion over hunger. Jason Pitzl-Waters at the Wild Hunt has written a couple of times about the rise of the none religious yet spiritual people on the west and east coast. What about people in smaller towns, the midwest and south? Just how much money can a small town bring in for food aid? Not much at all. They also wouldn’t be able to aid families enough through just food pantries.

For example this is what my husband and I got this month and our food pantry passes out items just once a month.

grapes
20 soft bread sticks filled with cheese
one small jar peanut butter
one jar sweet green tea (lots and lots of sugar)
1 can potatoes
1 can green beans
1 can carrots
three loaves of smashed bread
5 lbs of rotten potatoes which had to be thrown out

I’m diabetic and fresh food and low carbs is the best for me. Notice how many bread items were in the list. It isn’t the pantry’s fault they get what local markets and residents donate. I was very thankful for the grapes and peanut butter.

When people say social programs must be cut do they really understand what that entails? I don’t think they do. It’s important to vote this election year. It’s important that we make our voices heard. Social programs can be ran well without bankrupting a nation. It’s done in New Zealand, Norway, and other countries. It’s time America moves forward and joins such nations in more enlightened forms of government.

About Tara Miller

Tara "Masery" Miller is a panentheist Gaian mage living in the Ozarks with her husband and pets. She's also a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church. She writes the Staff of Asclepius blog. She's also a new author and editor with Megalithica Books. If you would like to be notified when Rooted in the Body, Seeking the Soul: Magic Practitioners Living with Disabilities, Addiction, and Illness will be available please email her at tara.miller21 (at) gmail.com Donations for the blog can also be sent through PayPal to the same email.

  • Mycatslyone

    (I’m sure you were also thankful for those banana peppers and cucumbers.)
    Anyway food stamps need to stay put. People really need them.
    Now I wish rental properties would come down in price so people could afford them without being put on some kind of Section 8 waiting list! Why on earth does a simple studio or 1 bedroom apt need to cost $1,000 or more?!? Ridiculous!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/paganswithdisabilities/ Tara “Masery” Miller

      I’ve been in a tiny apartment for that cost. When I was in CA the Section 8 waiting list was three years long. We just about got on it when we decided to move back to Missouri. We couldn’t take our application from state to state which I thought was annoying. Our current landlady is kind but she doesn’t want the government involved with inspecting the house so she won’t agree to Section 8. It’s also very difficult to find any low income or Section 8 qualified housing that allows pets other than service animals. With my mixed family we’re sort of stuck but that’s our choice. I’m happy with them.

  • kadiera

    So many social services offered by religious organizations are like that. We’re lucky to live in a diverse area….where the Jewish community and the Muslim community also offer their own social service agencies, still mostly tied to religion. Adoption agencies, summer programs for kids (particularly those with special needs), food pantries…..

    *sigh*

    Subsidized daycare is an issue here – I know for A to go to a *good* daycare center, we’re paying more than twice the reimbursement rate that low income families get, and out here in the suburbs, the only places that take the subsidy payment are churches. The subsidy is stupidly low ($80/week last I heard – or about $16 a day…even the cheapest in-home places we talked to wanted $25)


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