January 17, 2012 Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH 11Comment

Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich likes to pump himself up by picking on other people. Several weeks back his target was “children in the poorest neighborhoods.” Now it’s people who receive food assistance.

Others have checked his claims about President Obama being the “food stamp President,” but Gingrich also suggested that if you are on food stamps, you aren’t earning a paycheck. According to data assembled by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, however, a hefty portion of households receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are working. The data for 2010 indicates that about 38% percent of single-adult SNAP households with children had earned income, and about 64% of married-head SNAP households with children had earned income.

Here are a few other facts I learned about SNAP recipients in 2010:

*On average, about 40.3 million U.S. resident receive per month receive SNAP assistance nationwide. That’s about 13% of the U.S. population.

*About 85% of SNAP households have annual income below the federal poverty line. For a two-person household (e.g., mother and child) that’s an $14,570 annual income; for a family of four, that’s an annual income of $22,050.

*About 76% of SNAP households included either a child or an elderly or disabled person; these households received 84 percent of SNAP’s total annual benefit.

The complete report on SNAP recipients in 2010 provides more detailed characteristics and State-specific data.

In response to GOP candidate Gingrich’s assertion that “more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history,” the White House called that claim “crazy.” The White House press secretary added:

“It was the result of the worst recession since the Great Depression, that was brought on by economic policies that certainly predate this president.”

11 thoughts on “Dissing people in U.S. who need food assistance

  1. There should be some rules when it comes to food samps snd welfare. The people on welfare and food stamps should be investigated to see if they have the latest cell phone, apps, and cable television. If they can afford these non essential items, they can afford groceries. Cut them off. They must learn to put priorities in order.

  2. #1 clearly has never even seen the application for food stamps. There ARE guidelines, pretty strict ones in fact, you can’t just walk in and say “I want food stamps”. Each state differs but the general guidelines are similar, in Maine where I live you have to show what your monthly income is, how much you have in savings, and how much you have in other assets like vehicles. Then if your income is low enough and you don’t have too many assets or money in savings, you get food stamps and they aren’t a lot.

    After I had a medical emergency so my choices were between paying medical bills for a fractured foot or eating I had to suck up my stubborn pride and apply for them. Sure there are people on food stamps with cable tv but I can guarantee they are cutting back in other areas of their lives to have something they enjoy. Being poor should not mean that you have to be completely miserable and broken down before you are deserving of help. If you don’t help the people who are on the edge pull themselves back up they can fall into the sort of crushing poverty that is almost impossible to climb out of.

  3. Cell phones have almost become a necessity, pay phones and land lines are becoming relics. There are cheap pay as you go phones as well as minimal plans.
    Wondering what the return on investment would be for the cost of the investigation vs. the paltry amount of food stamps given.
    Trying to square how investigating the poor would make for smaller and less intrusive government often advocated by those that hold the poor should be investigated.
    Money better spent would be to fully fund the IRS so they could insure that everyone pays what they owe in taxes. That would be a huge ROI and taxpayer dollars well spent.

  4. Cell phones are popular and helpful in emergencies, but hey, who had a cell phone in 1951 right? All I am saying is that there is a difference between someone on food stamps and welfare playing the victim who has the latest iPhone and the most expensive plan as well as most any non essential item that could be wanted. I see this crap everyday. If they are not willing to cut back on non essentials to be able to make payment on essentials then ignore them. It is MY taxpayer money that has to pay for this. Just so you know, I am one of the 45% who actually pays federal income tax and I do not recieve reparations (earned income tax credit).

    Instead of marxist bullies protesting and yelling about the “rich” paying their fair share, how about everyone who lives and breathes pays a 10% national sales tax across the board and lets render the IRS and all tax codes useless. That would be more fair than ahything. That way, the “rich” would pay more and the 55% of america who do not pay taxes would get an opportunity to see how the real world works.

  5. A 10 percent national sales tax SOUNDS nice, but it will be subject to the same abuses and dodges that the income tax has — the rich will buy exemptions from congress, and there will be a lot of off the books transactions.

    There needs to be a character and expectation change amongst people — a common agreement that under no circumstances should children go hungry or uneducated or unmedicated, and that everybody has an obligation, no matter what, to see the next generation through adolescence with the best possible chance for a place in society.

    Likewise our elderly should be warm, well fed, and cared for in non-abusive situations.

    If we took just those two goals and built systems and institutions to make that happen, all the rest would fall into line.

  6. Delusion of Granjeur:

    All I am saying is that there is a difference between someone on food stamps and welfare playing the victim who has the latest iPhone and the most expensive plan as well as most any non essential item that could be wanted.

    And we should make policies because of that person playing the victim, and not the 99 others who are legitimately victims? The system is already extraordinarily painful to navigate, at times when people are frankly pretty much at their wits’ end to begin with. It’s already geared principally to making sure you aren’t some sort of crook rather than to making sure people who need help get it. It’s like our immigration laws; most of the problem is that the only time any legislators get interested is when they hear about abuses. Thus, it’s a gigantic patchwork mess of rules making haphazard attempts to prevent abuse that serves fewer people than it should, gets abused anyway, and probably costs quite a bit more than what it needs to. Like a lot of things in the government, alas. Tricare has that problem too, according to the military families I know.

  7. “to see if they have the latest cell phone, apps, and cable television.”

    Cable TV in the USA is practially a requirement. You’re considered to be REALLY WEIRD if you don’t have it.

    And Rural Africa has a better penetration of mobile phones than the USA, since they’re pretty damn cheap.

  8. I’m not against food stamps–on them once briefly– but I think they should be more like the WIC program where you can’t waste them on highly processed junk food…or loan your card to someone for x amt of dollars so they can buy cigarettes or booze. I’ve heard so many scams my ears still ring….have been offered $100 worth of stamps for twenty bucks often at work. There will always be a new scam. I only know one recipent with 6 kids(works two jobs) that has a plan for her monthly SNAP allotment and actually keeps the few goodies for her kids locked up! She never runs out of food at the end of the month and plans all their meals. Most go and spend it and are at the food banks begging by the 20th. Remember the olden days of commodities where you could stand outside and be given all the powdered milk and cheese the people wouldn’t eat. Perhaps with more controls on what you can purchase we wouldn’t have an epidemic of obseity/diabetes in this country.

  9. Executives and CEO’s of companies with employees on such low wages that they require government subsidy should forfeit any right to raises or bonuses until such time as their employment practices are no longer a drain on the public finances.

  10. “like the WIC program where you can’t waste them on highly processed junk food”

    However, Junk food is CHEAPER. This is because they can use cruddy ingredients and by adding fat and sugar, make it edible.

    Plus, how are you going to enforce it?

    “so they can buy cigarettes or booze”

    You DO know that cigarettes are addictive, right? And alcohol has been used for millenia to ensure the workforce do not get uppity.

    Plus, why are YOUR puritanical ideas to be enforced?

    “There will always be a new scam.”

    Like the scam “I need more employees so I can watch people eat their food stamps!”?

    How about fixing the scam where BoA paid ZERO taxes?

  11. Several years ago there was a study from UC Berkeley that found that a high percentage of people working full time at a new Walmart qualified for food stamps. I have pasted the summary below. Raising the minimum wage in the US should have helped, but lack of health insurance is a big cost and medical costs often drive people into poverty. So we have a “system” where people can work full time for a major employer and still need food stamps and other public assistance.

    Hidden Cost Of Wal-Mart Jobs
    Use of Safety Net Programs by Wal-Mart Workers in California

    Arindrajit Dube
    UC Berkeley Institute for Industrial Relations

    Ken Jacobs
    UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education

    A Study for the UC Berkeley Labor Center
    August 2, 2004

    Wal-Mart is the largest employer in the United States, with over one million workers. It is the largest food retailer and the third largest pharmacy in the nation. The company employs approximately 44,000 workers in California, and has plans to expand significantly in the state over the next four years. Wal-Mart workers receive lower wages than other retail workers and are less likely to have health benefits. Other major retailers have begun to scale back wages and benefits in the state, citing their concerns about competition from Wal-Mart.

    We estimate that Wal-Mart workers in California earn on average 31 percent less than workers employed in large retail as a whole, receiving an average wage of $9.70 per hour compared to the $14.01 average hourly earnings for employees in large retail (firms with 1,000 or more employees). In addition, 23 percent fewer Wal-Mart workers are covered by employer-sponsored health insurance than large retail workers as a whole. The differences are even greater when Wal-Mart workers are compared to unionized grocery workers. In the San Francisco Bay Area, non-managerial Wal-Mart employees earn on average $9.40 an hour, compared to $15.31 for unionized grocery workers—39 percent less—and are half as likely to have health benefits.

    At these low-wages, many Wal-Mart workers rely on public safety net programs— such as food stamps, Medicare, and subsidized housing—to make ends meet. The presence of Wal-Mart stores in California thus creates a hidden cost to the state’s taxpayers.

    This study is the first to quantify the fiscal costs of Wal-Mart’s substandard wages and benefits on public safety net programs in California. It also explores the potential impact on public programs of Wal-Mart’s competitive effect on industry standards.

    Main Findings:

    Reliance by Wal-Mart workers on public assistance programs in California comes at a cost to the taxpayers of an estimated $86 million annually; this is comprised of $32 million in health related expenses and $54 million in other assistance.

    The families of Wal-Mart employees in California utilize an estimated 40 percent more in taxpayer-funded health care than the average for families of all large retail employees.

    The families of Wal-Mart employees use an estimated 38 percent more in other (non-health care) public assistance programs (such as food stamps, Earned Income Tax Credit, subsidized school lunches, and subsidized housing) than the average for families of all large retail employees.

    If other large California retailers adopted Wal-Mart’s wage and benefits standards, it would cost taxpayers an additional $410 million a year in public assistance to employees.

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