No Steak, Seafood, or Dignity for You: The Cloud of Misunderstanding Around Food Stamps

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As of late there have been a flurry of proposed laws related to food stamps and limitations related to food stamp use.  To be frank, these laws are shrouded in misunderstanding, and as the Washington Post puts it, is a giant double-standard.  Here at home in Wisconsin, Republican lawmakers are putting in motion a bill that would require food stamp users to use photo IDs for their purchases.  Their reasoning is to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse, but in actuality has very little discernible benefit.

Overall, a majority of these laws and policies stem from assumptions about food stamp recipients and their lifestyle choices.  In Wisconsin, the lawmakers supporting the new bill cite investigative journalism pieces citing food stamps being sold online.  Similar states have proposed incorporating restrictions or policies surrounding food stamps.  Notably, Missouri has proposed a ban on using food stamps to buy steak or seafood.  Not only does this demonstrate the stereotypes surrounding low-income lifestyles, but also a illustrates a lack of understanding and logic regarding the food stamp system.

Emily Badger at the Washington Post beautifully articulates three particular flaws inherent within these proposals.  Quite an interesting read.

But the logic behind the proposals is problematic in at least three, really big ways.  The first is economic: There’s virtually no evidence that the poor actually spend their money this way.

Most poignant in my opinion is the double-standard that requires food stamp recipients to prove their worth and to succumb to restrictions on what they are allowed to consume while other populations that receive government benefits (student loans, mortgage tax breaks, subsidies, etc.) are not.

Ultimately, these types of proposals lack in both logic and humanity.  Restrictions on food and further barriers to access food will only continue the cyclical dilemma of food injustice.  Instead of shaming and blaming low-income food stamp recipients, a more compassionate and discerning light needs to be shed on the dominating issues surrounding food stamps and food access.  A little humanity could go a long way.

A little (painfully on point) humor on the issue.


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