Food Stamps: Some Good News out of September

Food Stamps: Some Good News out of September October 2, 2018

SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) logoAs allegations about Judge Kavanaugh multiply and cast doubt on his character and fitness for the Supreme Court, there was a lot of bad news this past September. Here is one good story that no one is paying attention to — SNAP, that is, food stamps, in the 2018 Farm Bill.

Just this past Sunday, September 30th, we missed a deadline to renew the Farm Bill. But that is actually a good thing. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is funded by the bill and was facing dramatic cuts in a version that was up for renewal. With the deadline passing and Farm Bill expiring, SNAP is safe until after the 2018 midterm elections.

For months, President Trump has advocated for immoral cuts to Farm Bill nutrition assistance, including SNAP. The House version of the bill would have cut access even more. I thank God that Congress’ inaction led them to preserve the existing policy.

I often think of Jesus’ parable about a rich man named Dives who found himself in Hell because he failed to see the humanity of the poor man Lazarus at his gate. Like Dives, America may miss an opportunity and cost our country her soul.

Jesus fed people. He recognized the immorality of hunger and always took action.  Lawmakers who call themselves Christians should follow Jesus’ behavior.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, as many as two million Americans could see their SNAP assistance reduced or cut off in the House of Representatives’ Farm Bill. This comes directly after a wicked order directing federal agencies to promote red tape and stricter work requirements across federal programs, including SNAP. While such measures might sound innocuous on the surface, they feed a false narrative and have harmful consequences for people living in places without jobs, or who are taking care of their families full-time.

SNAP is the first line of defense against hunger, especially for children, seniors and people with disabilities. Nearly two-thirds of people who rely on SNAP are under 18, over 60 or disabled, according to the USDA. And most SNAP recipients who can work, do work. This assistance is designed to provide crucial assistance for low-wage workers and already has work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents.

More than this: SNAP is a minimal program at its best. It provides a mere $1.40 per meal to 42 million Americans. It is designed as a support that can respond quickly to rising need. If you become disabled temporarily or are between jobs or are struggling to feed your kids and pay rent, SNAP can help you. That is why in the height of the Great Recession twenty million more people were receiving SNAP than before. It automatically responds to needs.

The private sector, food pantries and other charities provided by faith institutions are vital to alleviating poverty and caring for the least and the lost, but they simply aren’t enough. More than this, feeding struggling families is not a matter of charity. It is a matter of justice and human dignity — which places it firmly within the government’s purview. In order for the US government to be legitimate and responsible, it must care for the hungry.

America, the world’s richest nation, must avoid Dives’ mistake. With the Farm Bill expiring on Sunday we avoided one grievous sin. Now we have the opportunity now to do right and pass a humane renewal. One that improves efficiency and protects people who need help. The alternative is the living hell we embrace when we fail to treat poor, unfortunate and disabled people with humanity.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • TinnyWhistler

    Wow, I knew the bill was up for review, but I didn’t know when the deadline was! What good news!

  • The Mouse Avenger

    Hooray, indeed! 😀

  • Widuran

    So far the allegations are falsehoods

  • kenofken

    This is good news, but I fear temporary. The underlying sentiment of social Darwinism is alive and well in Washington.

    What a lot of people don’t realize about the food stamp program is that the people truly scamming and getting over on the taxpayer are not lazy poor people. It is Fortune 500 corporations. Our country’s biggest fast food and big box and online retailers have business models which pay most front line workers a low un-livable wage and then refer them to in-house resources which help them sign up for food stamps and other public aid.

    So taxpayers are essentially paying billionaires to help them maintain a workforce of people who are literally no better off than medieval serfs. That’s the dirty secret of this county: You can work a full time job (and more) and remain dirt poor to the point of living on the edge of starvation and homelessness. Big business has been making stupidly large profits since the recession. Many are so awash in cash that they’re having trouble finding investment opportunities. Amazon just reached $1 trillion in value. Only 16 countries in the world have GDPs that size or larger.

    Bernie Sanders called them out on this with a bill that would have taxed companies which paid below living wage and foisted the balance onto the public rolls. It targeted Amazon and Jeff Bezos in particular, and lo and behold Jeff decided the company would commit to a minimum wage of $15 an hour. But don’t worry, Jeff isn’t getting soft with success. The company is eliminating bonuses in return. You gotta feel for Jeff. He’s only $161 billion away from hard times himself.

  • Linda Coleman Allen

    This is a timely and eye-opening article that many people need to read. Thank you for spending your time sharing this information with us.

  • Barros Serrano

    This all was pushed on the country gradually, Can you imagine people in 1959 suddenly thrust into today’s economy? They’d be in open rebellion in 15 minutes.