Need to Know, February 17, 2012: Food stamps, poverty in America

Jeff Greenfield

Newt Gingrich stoked a political firestorm recently when he called President Obama “the greatest food stamp president” in American history. On this edition of Need to Know, we ask: Why are so many Americans on food stamps, and what does it say about the federal safety net and the state of poverty in America? Jeff Greenfield anchors.

What’s on this week:

Why are so many Americans on food stamps?

Food stamps have become a political issue in the campaign, and Need to Know examines why a record number of Americans need help buying food every month.

Ramesh Ponnuru on the food stamp program

Anchor Jeff Greenfield interviews National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru, who’s been critical of the federal food stamp program.

Jeff Greenfield on poverty in America

Greenfield concludes with an essay examining the extent of poverty in the United States.

Watch more full episodes of Need to Know.

 

Comments

  • Joan Hoyte

    The difference between Republicans and Democrates can be seen in the food stamp program.  The haves (Republicans) and mostly (have note) Democrates consist of a  bigger part of the impoverished is evident in your show .  Why would you take foodstamps when they can barely feed you, if you could have  a good paying job that allows you to feed your family without food stamps.

    That young woman working for the State of Tenessee has 2 children she can’t feed, so we feed them.  She isn’t paid a living wage, so then we (taxpayers) have to supplement her ability to survive.  People with good jobs and money, forget or never knew what it is like to be without.  SHAME ON THEM.

    The Republicans will be the first to call themselves Christian, and the last to act like a Christian.  How sad.  Joan Hoyte

  • Guest

    Does your family have a lobbyist? Can you vote yourself a pay raise? Do you have a job that you do not have to show up to work? Do you make a  6 figure income? Can you “legally” engage in insider trading? Do you have an office that cost between $1 million and $4 million a year and someone else pays for it? Our government is broken.We had laws to control Wall Street, the banks, and corporations.Our elected ( rigged ) officials did not do their job. POLITICIANS ARE LIKE DIAPERS…THEY SHOULD BE CHANGED OFTEN AND FOR THE SAME REASON !

  • Harmon3030

    I just watched this and never comment on anything. But Mr. Ponnuru does not know what he his talking about. I work for a state agency that provides assistance. Catagorical eligibility is not what he said. Most of what he said is not correct, once again, its people that are making far reaching statements that have no idea how any of the programs are operated. There are work requirements, but those were waived due to the bad economy as no one can find jobs. We have people coming in to apply that have degrees, and can’t afford to feed their families. Its the working poor that we have now, and working middle class that can’t make ends meet. Go online for your own states and see the gross income limits and see if you can live on what these households do. Also, all the talk about a safety, people, wake up, THERE IS NO SAFETY NET. You have to hit rock bottom based on any of these state guidelines for anything, and by that I mean zero. 

  • Central Vermonter

    I live in Vermont, and it is $5 a year, not a month, in token fuel assistance to qualify for food stamps. These “heated renters,” pay rent, often in subsidized housing, where heat is included.  In my mother ‘s senior complex, she pays a percentage of her in income, as do most. (Federal option to pay full rate is there at lease recertification time, though I have only heard of one person who ever took the “government out of my business” option.)  There was a story in the local paper about how the local housing authority was barely able to break even, as young families in other projects lost their jobs, paid less in rent as it was income-based, with the housing authority having no means to charge more.

  • AZ Indenpendent

    Seeing the show on the 17th was really depressing, the fact that Corporate USA has sold out for the profit by killing the jobs the “middle class” worked has created the mess we have today. Where are you going to make a good living with a High School deploma? Without “middle class” manufacturing jobs there will ALWAYS be 15% to 20% (High School drop outs, etc) that will not be able to make enough money to have a house, car and food. Get used to it people this economy will not improve, regardless of what the Republican’s say they can do.

  • Joan Hall

    After watching your program on Food Stamps, Feb. 17th, listening to Ramesh Ponnuru was like listening to someone from another planet.  He didn’t seem to know about the use of food stamp cards, rather than cash, for the program.  Then when he mentioned going after the Agriculture lobby which the Republicans support whole heartedly support, was like blowing off reality.

  • wb2ldj

    Ok good broadcast journalism stories, well done, but the Welfare dept. needs to provide a manditory course about ‘how to live on the cheap’. You have a family when you can afford one and that means at least a good car paid for if you choose to own the high cost of an automobile, money in the bank, and a secure job or two. Place new emphasis on staying single while making friends to help people.
     
    Listen, i have not had a major full-time career job since 1978 with four years on my employment profile that has $0. Have never been on food stamps. Have not owned a car in 14 years and love it. Didn’t drive the last one i had much at all for ten years and did most of my own mechanical work. In the past three years i have made do with half of what you call the poverty level, $7500.  (of $14,000 scale) and live well but i have a place to stay that doesn’t cost me money as i do work for it. As a vegetarian i eat well. As a college graduate i know how to live but college does not automatically teach you the common sence or living right. God provides because i put Him first in life.  GS

  • Donald Giles Miller

    I think our sense of caring and taking care of one another has gone crazy. I think we are here to care for one another. I grew up in a poor family.  As a Professor and a therapist I have let students live in my home and have started funds to help them.What is going on that we don’t feed our children and adults in need.Do we not have any morals and ethics? How can we call ourselves christian? 

  • So You Think

    There are always going to be people that abuse a program.  But I ask this – if you become unemployed tomorrow, how many months could you go before you can’t afford car and health insurance. How long before you have to move out of your home or apartment. How long before you loose your car. Before you loose your internet access. Your phone service. Before your credit cards are maxed out and cut off. How long before even going to McDonalds on .49 cent hamburger Wednesdays is completely out of the question.

    You say to yourself, “Oh I wouldn’t be unemployed that long”. Really?  Try this experiment.  Apply for another job related to your current field.  Then apply for a job for a position that is way below your skill set level like a cashier at McDonalds.  See if you can get one of these jobs offered to you.  (One rule, you can not let the potential employer know that you are currently employed. Lead them to believe that you have been unemployed for 3 months or more). 

    Now, think about all of the years you have worked.  How much money you have paid in taxes.  And most importantly how much of that total tax money you have paid will actually be paid back to you each month from Social Security when/if you retire.

    Yes, there is an unacceptable percentage of people that abuse the food stamp system. And the Medicare system, and the legal system, and even the departments within our governments. But consider this:  if you are someone who has ‘done the right thing’ and obeyed the rules of paying your taxes and paying your way over the years, would you want to be able to eat if the rest of your physical and financial world fell apart? Would you want to be able to eat the types of food that will help keep you healthy so you don’t need to see a doctor, without insurance mind you.

    We have allowed government to step all over our churches and charitable organizations that used to fill the food and healthcare gap within communities. 

    One thing I have learned, if I ever get anywhere near the income level I once enjoyed, I will
    spend my money on helping people and social activities because those are the types of
    memories that have carried me through these hard times. – I blew a lot of money on inanimate objects that when push came to shove, were repossessed,  sold at 10% of their ‘value’ or simply thrown away.  I have a real appreciation as to why my grandparents lived a simple life and enjoyed entertaining.  The Depression taught them what I now know…..Do I really NEED that?   The best thing that has come of this for me is all of the things I am learning through volunteering. 

    I close with this directed to Ramesh Ponnuru – the pundit who was talking down to those of us that “enjoy” the food stamp “entitlements”….. What would you and your wife April do if tomorrow the National Review Institute and Magazine closed their doors?   If public television and other publicly supported media that you count on were no longer ‘supported’? 

    Ironic that your wife draws a paycheck from a 501(c)(3) organization which is defined by the IRS as:
     ”To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e.,
    it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of
    its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for
    or against political candidates.

      This last part is so contradictory to what your wife has done her entire work career: INFLUENCE POLITICIANS.

    (April Ponnuru is the executive director of National
    Review Institute. Before joining NRI, Ponnuru served as the Vice
    President of National Review magazine.

    A veteran of Capitol Hill, Ponnuru spent several years as an aide to
    House Republicans. She served as both a senior policy advisor to
    Majority Whip Roy Blunt and as an advisor to Congressman Todd Akin.
    Ponnuru began her career at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in
    Washington. She was a Witherspoon Fellow at the Family Research Council
    in 1998 and a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute in 2005).

    Do we really care what you think Ramesh?  I mean, the incredibly “entitled” Whitney Houston just died of drug addiction complications.  And Madonna flipped a finger to millions during a football show. 

  • Gustavo Corral

    I think the reporter asked a lot of leading questions ( yes, I’m a newbee to journalism). Can N2K find at least ONE person taking advantage of the system among the 46 million, or would that ruin the story-telling ? 
    Also, I notice that the guy working 32 hrs. was, well, a little on the heavy side. I expect people on food stamps to burn the fat before burning the tax dollars!

     I agree, however that this recession has caused a lot of pain. But we need solutions that think long term instead of short-term fixes. The guy who was a landscaper : he seems like a nice guy, but face it : construction / landscaping is never going to go back to the way it was 5 hrs. ago. He needs to get into another business. 

     I feel a lot of government programs don’t actually work, even when they are not abused. They are not game changers and often hide another problem. 

  • Donald Giles Miller

    My older brothers and myself went to college on the GI Bill. we were poor and could not have gone without this assistance.My brothers and myself have contributed to our society in many.many ways. We are professionals with advanced degrees. This was true for many G.I. after the second world war.Those on foods stamps are us and they need our assistance. Do we really want to waste this knowledge and creativity. What are our political people really thinking? Are they that out of touch? Let them live just one of these lives for one day and see how they feel.

  • Flip of the coin

    “He needs to get into another business”

    There may be many possibilities why he did not get into another business: his education level, not knowing how to go about it or the fear of switching.  He may hoped to ride out the Great Recession before he had to sell off his equipment, so he would not have to change his line of work. Some self-employed laborers are self-employed because they would be passed over by employers due to serving jail time, no matter how long ago.  Now that he is unemployed, that alone is a strike against him right off.  

    If he needs retraining, who is going to pay for it?  Even before the economy tanked, the only federally-funded opportunities for job retraining I saw when I considered it were for truck driver and beautician, both of which I have no interest in and probably would not succeed at due less than perfect vision and dexterity and an inability to sit still.  People gravitate to a line of work for a reason and some are more flexible
    to change due to their education and skills than others.  

  • teach to fish

    None of this means anything to a hungry child. That said, there isn’t one solution and instead of bickering with eachother or making empty promises, we should all be doing things that resolve the fundamentals.
    You think that people should be required to take courses to live ‘on the cheap’? Volunteer your time. Start a couponing club in your community, educate on healthier eating. Don’t know how to live with in your means? Ask, learn, live. All these educated, now unemployed, individuals….no one has an imagination or ability to make change? What else are you doing with your time?
    We are all of the problem, we should all be a part of the solution. And I don’t mean just waiting around for some ballot to come around so that we can vote for someone else to fix everything.

  • Darrellleehart

    never in all the 52 years I have lived have I seen so many jobs go over seas, even the uniforms are Military use are made overseas with all thous jobs gone who’s left to work.
    And with many of thous jobs they paid well jest ask a computer programmer from 25 years ago now it done in India we have too bring thous jobs back and now is that time.
    And yes I was one of thous who said go work or don’t eat now with an EBT card I’m thankful I can eat it mostly fating food because it cheaper, to eat thin you pay a lot more for.
    Last comment we should take all thous CEO who outsourced are jobs and try them for high treason
    against the U.S.A.   

  • teach to fish

    you can eat healthier and do it for the same or cheaper combine with the know how, the question is, do you want to? Ask, learn, and live.

  • G. Frank

    Even though I have great sympathy for people who need assistance and do not wish to see any person go to bed hungry, I was very disappointed with this show.  I found the reporting to be extremely shallow.  Each of the families who kindly participated were treated not just respectfully but with kid gloves.  I could have shown each of them how to eat better on the assistance they were receiving and to improve their lives with just a little bit more knowledge and effort. 
     
    Bravo to the young working mother of two whose job is to take food stamp assistance applications and who qualified for $345 monthly in food stamps.  But I want to know where the father of those two children is.  Is she receiving child support that doesn’t have to be declared on her income tax return and isn’t reported for purposes of qualifying for food stamps.  Unless a woman can prove immaculate conception, we need to name every child’s father and hold them responsible for their children.  To date, we do a miserable job in this area.  That alone might effectively reduce the number of children on welfare.  Could not the father (or fathers) of these two children pay enough support to  feed two children so the tax payers are not having to do what he should be doing? 
     
    I applaud the single dad that was trying to make the best food choices for his little son, but you showed him at the grocery store comparing the labels of two expensive juice bottles.  Right then I knew he needed a course in nutrition, meal planning, and grocery shopping. Neither of those expensive juices belongs in his son’s diet.   And you pointed out that the child’s mother was not in the picture at the moment.  Is she working and paying child support?  The father talked about driving his son to school and sitting in the car all day waiting for school to be out in order to save gas.  I want to know how far away the school is.  In most of America, if a school is more than a mile away, school buses provide transportation so no parent needs to drive, and if they live closer than one mile, it is a healthy walk.  There is always the option of finding another parent his son could ride with in exchange for helping them with something their family would need.  This is obviously a bright, healthy, young man who is capable of work and could be providing some service in exchange for the assistance he is receiving. 
     
    Then there was the couple where the wife was on disability and the man had been working part-time through a temp agency for several years.  They lived rent-free in a house owned by their church in exchange for the wife doing office work for the church.  His pay at $9 per hour averaging about 30 hours a week  works out to over $1,100 per month.  They received about $5 per day in food stamps and said it wasn’t enough.  The program didn’t mention how much she received in disability benefits but it is obvious that she is fully mobile and mentally functional.  I am going to place a good guess that this household has a total monthly income of over $1,500, are not paying any federal income tax, do not have a mortgage payment or rent, have a large yard but do not plant a garden, and complain that they can’t afford adequate food.  What are they spending the income they do have on?  Why are they overweight?  Housing and food are necessities.  Those are obviously covered.  So I want to know more about their bills.  I am guessing they are not all necessities.
     
    Early in my working career I had been both a social worker and a federal congressional staffer. My pay was low enough on both jobs to qualify me for food stamps.  I did not apply.  I not only lived just fine on my pay, I saved money each month…..something the government would have told you would have been impossible.   Both positions allowed me to see great need and great abuse.  I’ve never seen a family situation that could not be resolved and be made self-sufficient within a few months to two years with proper guidance.  Our programs were not providing that guidance then and they aren’t doing it now.  The best programs solving these problems in our country are consistently operated by private, religious organizations. When is our government going to start studying what works and give that a try?
     
    I challenge your organization to do another program where you spend a day secretly video taping the check out lines at urban grocery stores and see what is in the grocery carts of those paying with food stamp cards.  I have spent days watching carts full of soda, chips, cookies, and highly prepared unhealthy foods being paid for with tax payers dollars.  I have watched grade school children use mom’s food stamp card to pay $1.50 for a 16 ounce soda at a corner store.  I have watched women carry bags of groceries out the store door and hand them off to someone else for cash that will buy them cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, or a manicure.  I have watched women with expensive hairdos, expensive clothings, and more than sufficient jewelry carry out bags of groceries and load them into Mercedes and big SUVS.  I am willing to help the truly needed but I am tired of a codependent government enabling morally bankrupt freeloaders who willingly take from others JUST BECAUSE THEY CAN.  The federal government hasn’t even started to get serious about true reform.  And American citizens need to start getting real about their expectations.  Huge houses, jam-packed walk-in closets, multiple-car garages, and thousands of dollars in toys and entertainment systems are NOT necessities.  But our government still talks like these should be our goals.  Maybe a small but clean home; simple, healthy food;  gentle, loving attitudes; and peaceful family evenings might be better goals to aim for.  As the motto says, “Live simply so that others may simply live”.  

  • jan

    My brother was killed in an accident when his children were little about the time the GOP was making an uproar about “single mothers”.  I always wondered if the GOP party faithful had a system which allowed them to identify the widows and their children from the single mothers so that they could point fingers and whether my sister-in-law and nephews ever encountered prejudice because there was clearly no man in the house

  • Vickie

    The food stamp program was enlightening BUT… there are ways ANYONE on food stamps can stretch their money. What about making from scratch hamburger helper, there are tons of recipes on the net for making your own, and it is just as easy as opening the box, but it tastes better and is better for you. What about the guy in Tn with the young boy, why doesn’t he take 91.75 PER WEEK and spend that for the week, make a menu, IF he believes in beans then make them from scratch, sub beans for meat, still a protein, and you are still getting what you need and they taste good. I personally eat beans but I make mine from the beginning, not by opening a can, and I make a big batch and freeze them in 2 c. containers for later use. If he does not have internet at home he can always go to the library and use their internet for recipes, or better yet, check out a cook book on stretching your food dollars. I don’t think we should be food poor in the U.S but we have to make better choices with our money, whether is it actual money or food stamps, and I don’t see alot of good choices being made in my community with the food stamps. Yes, everyone can buy a treat or two but really, a fully baked cake, that you can make from the box and it is cheaper or how about from scratch?  I don’t think anyone should go to bed hungry but think outside the box and not what the t.v. tells you or you think you should be eating. I think that food stamps need to be more like the WIC program where you can only buy good foods, food that has better nutritional value and that would really stretch food stamps. Basic ingredients should be a MUST, flour, sugar, salt, milk, eggs, etc. I guess that would be raw ingredients that you make your own meals with instead of opening a box. I have been on food stamps and I made them stretch as far as possible. And I was on them when they were paper stamps so everyone KNEW you were using them. In this economy I don’t begrudge anyone using food stamps, but be SMART about it.

  • Lmjrust

    I enjoy your program and respect your good intentions – however, your “food stamp” piece was pretty much very poor. Anyone can get on food stamps – they lie, and nothing is actually checked – the honor system mostly – many have no honor. Also, what about WIC, school brkfst & lunch, food bank, religious and social help.  It is important that you interview food store clerks who actually SEE and KNOW, how the poor and hungry live and spend taxpayer dollars – especially small town and neighborhood grocery stores.  Believe me, their is a huge subculture of folks DELIBERATELY making a living off the American taxpayer – there are people out there who need, and deserve help, but believe me – the vast majority are milking it.  I’ve been in a position for over 20 years to see it ugly and up close personal. Don’t believe ANYTHING a social service employee tells you – a big joke!

    The guy who spends his day sitting in his truck – why is he driving his boy to school – he never mentioned the school feeding program for his boy and neither did you – poor coverage – sorry!

  • Jccvir1

    How can I get the gentlemen and his son on this episode Food Stamps address to send some money? I’m very interested in assisting with what I can! so please dont ignore this comment.

    I can be reached at email provided and please provide enough information so I know this isnt someone taking advantage of this public comment.

    thank you. Jcc

  • Malin

    William Brangham caring and straightforward manner is a great addition to this show.  This is indeed what we all need to know and the presentation was excellent!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BVGE6UDI7XDHTCFRUSFUEVFVHI runi

    I am NOT against food assistance for the poor.  However, the SNAP program (“Food Stamps”) is not administered as well as it should be.  For an example of a properly administered food assistance program, please enter the WIC program for your state. (Neither I, nor any of my family members are employed by WIC.)

    “Food Stamps” main problem is that it emphasizes classes of food products that are NOTcovered (deli food, etc.)  Instead it should be specifying food products that ARE covered.  (For example, “2% homogenized milk”; “can of low salt green beans”, even “produce–apples”.)

    Most supermarkets are fully equipped to scan UPC codes, so it would not be extremely difficult to set up such a system.  As usual, the government has not kept up with current technological developments. Instead of asking “how can we make something better?”, some politicians are turning this issue into a matter of political gain which will not make anything better for anyone.

  • Sjaws1986

    I’m 69, heart attack victim, have Multiple Sclerosis, Glaucoma, no income except $726 per mo. S.S. and cannot get more than $45 per mo in food stamps. I’ve written a letter 2 mos. ago w/no response. I’m an American citizen & am really ticked off. Everyone I know (legal & illegal) get $200 per mo. I need help & do not know where to turn.  Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Donald Giles Miller

    I like this idea. I am not wealthy but could help a little but would like direct contributions to individuals. Is there a way to do this?If you get a response please post it. Jccvir1 this comment is not in relation to you comments, but many of the comments seem to be lacking in compassion and empathy and are judgmental.  I really like your reaching out.I have survived on peanut butter and jelly and canned soup and Bisquick. I am one of these people. Its hard to think about healthy stuff when your just surviving.  

  • A73skibum

    Thank you for a realistic understanding of the working poor who are helped by foodstamps. republicans for political gain fail to realize how painful it must be for these good people trying to do their best. FL Grandmother

  • Ch

       Hi,  I was also wondering if the amount of help he gets for assistance was in the 90.00$ range per week and what it could be spent on to not have enough each month. I’m a single adult and eat quite nicely on 40.00$ per week and that amount could be reduced to 25.00$ most weeks if I had to.  I’d love to see their grocery receipt slips for  a few months to see how they spent the money and still  run out of food.  If it were me I would start out each month with  a 20 LB bag of rice for 15.00$ and a 50 lb of potatoes for about the same. I wish the show had worked with them to show them how to stretch our government’s money to the fullest. Farmer’s markets , back yard gardens , and some fishing and hunting and bulk purchases  are some helpful ideas. Shopping 101 should be taught  and learned  and shared.

  • Xssdf

    These people are disgusting. All fat ass losers. Even the lard butts were shown playing solitaire on their fancy computer!!!  Maybe if these stupid baby mamas wouldn’t hook up with loser baby daddies they wouldn’t need to feed them crap! These losers should be doing the jobs the mexicans do! Able bodied losers! All of them!

  • Jane

     Boo hoo. Maybe you should sell your computer and not have internet! You probably have cable satellite tv too! And we’re supposed to feel sorry for you? Get a job loser.

  • Suz

    I absolutely agree.  I lost my job, went back to school and went to work part time in a large grocery store.  I have never used food stamps, but was absolutely stunned at how many people do use them and what they use them on.  Why are they able to buy soda, holiday candy, and huge cakes decorated in the bakery (that can be very expensive) with food stamp cards?  This makes no sense…….

    I also agree that WIC seems to be a much better program that limits purchases to baby food, whole grain bread, milk, cheese, and healthy vegetables (no potatoes), fruit, etc.  It also limits their purchases to certain brands that are declared to be the “least expensive” in the store.  They most certainly cannot buy candy, cake and ribeye steaks.  That makes more sense to me.

  • nikiminaj

     Spoken like a typical bleeding heart liberal twit. Perhaps if the people with kids they can’t afford keep their legs crossed there wouldn’t be so many worthless future gang bangers. The difference between democrats and republicans is that republicans work for a living and democrats expect everyone to give them free xxx. Losers.

  • Polarberny

    When  I  graduated with  Social Work  Degree  in  1974,  Food  Stamps   (no  longer  in  stamp  form)  were  a  Department  of  Agriculture  Farm  Subsidy  program.    That  fact  is  why  cleaning  supplies  not  available with  Food  subsidy  card  then  or  now!!!  I  remember  people  in  lines  each  month  to  receive  Farm  Surplus  products such as  cheese  and  raisins  and  even  canned  meat  products  AND  LOUDLY  COMPLAINING  THEY  DIDN’T  KNOW  HOW  TO  COOK  OR  BAKE!!!

      I  believe  that  Americans now have a totally  skewed value  system  based  on  the  fact  that  FOOD  IS  THE  EASIEST  THING  TO  GET  IN  THE  U.S.A.!!!     Every  Church  and/or  Community  Center  etc   offers a  Food  Bank  WHICH  GIVES AWAY  FOOD  BECAUSE  SOMEONE  ASKS  ….  No  real  eligibility  criteria  –  No  limits  for  number  of  visits  …  No  questions  asked  about  budgeting  problems   ….  and  No Cooking  class attendance  required!!!.   

    Our  current  generous  crop  of  BILLIONAIRES  and  their  women  with  $10,000  designer  purses  has  convinced  merchants  that  only   billionaires  matter  sooooooo   grocers  now  offer  more  and  more  READY  TO  CONSUME  OR  TAKE  HOME  AND  MICROWAVE   ITEMS  ….   Groceries  at  many  grocer  stores  now  include  all  preparation   except  the  waitress  to  carry  item  to  table!!!

    In  many  family  budgets,   the  cell  phone  bill  and  the  cable  bill   for  entertainment  get  paid  first  (and  the  eligibility  applications  DO  NOT  INCLUDE  QUESTIONS  ABOUT  THESE  TWO  ITEMS)   AND  then  IF  there  is  money  left  over   they  pay  rent  and  utilitiees.    There  is  no  money  allotted  for  groceries  because  they  are  sure  they  can  get  groceries  in  nearly  every  block!   
      

  • Anonymous

     I have a hard time believing you graduated with a degree of Social Work considering how much contempt you have for the less fortunate.

  • Pmassey61

    I feel strongly that the food stamp program is a necessary part of the
    so called “safety net” for the poor and working poor.  The politicians are completely out of touch
    with what is happening in this country today. 
    What some call a recession is to many Americans, mostly children, a true
    depression.  We have millions of children
    in this country going to bed hungry even with the federal food stamp program
    and other nonprofits that exist to try and fight hunger in our country.  It is easy to stand at a podium and make
    sweeping statements about such programs and declare that they are keeping
    Americans from seeking work.  With what
    these people are managing to subsist on they are not living in the lap of
    luxury; there is absolutely no incentive to stay on such programs.  In fact the most recent recipients who have
    landed on the rolls are in complete dismay that this could have ever happened
    to them. But for the grace of God, my friends go any of us. You want to know
    why we don’t have the same pathways to the American success story that we had
    in the past, it is because we have lost our collective sense of humanity.  The notion that “for of those to whom much is given, much is required” …. as John
    F. Kennedy so eloquently put it in his address to the Massachusetts legislature
    in 1961. Or as one of our founding fathers, President George Washington said …”Labor to keep alive in your breast that
    little spark of celestial fire called conscience” Where is our conscience
    and moral compass today? Who are these power hungry and morally bankrupt
    individuals seeking the highest office in this land? All I see are greedy, egocentric
    individuals who are pandering to the most extreme segment of our society,
    caring little of those in need or for that matter the majority of the American
    people.

  • Pmassey61

    I feel strongly that the food stamp program is a necessary part of the
    so called “safety net” for the poor and working poor.  The politicians are completely out of touch
    with what is happening in this country today. 
    What some call a recession is to many Americans, mostly children, a true
    depression.  We have millions of children
    in this country going to bed hungry even with the federal food stamp program
    and other nonprofits that exist to try and fight hunger in our country.  It is easy to stand at a podium and make
    sweeping statements about such programs and declare that they are keeping
    Americans from seeking work.  With what
    these people are managing to subsist on they are not living in the lap of
    luxury; there is absolutely no incentive to stay on such programs.  In fact the most recent recipients who have
    landed on the rolls are in complete dismay that this could have ever happened
    to them. But for the grace of God, my friends go any of us. You want to know
    why we don’t have the same pathways to the American success story that we had
    in the past, it is because we have lost our collective sense of humanity.  The notion that “for of those to whom much is given, much is required” …. as John
    F. Kennedy so eloquently put it in his address to the Massachusetts legislature
    in 1961. Or as one of our founding fathers, President George Washington said …”Labor to keep alive in your breast that
    little spark of celestial fire called conscience” Where is our conscience
    and moral compass today? Who are these power hungry and morally bankrupt
    individuals seeking the highest office in this land? All I see are greedy, egocentric
    individuals who are pandering to the most extreme segment of our society,
    caring little of those in need or for that matter the majority of the American
    people.

  • Pmassey61

    Amen, I could not have said this better.

  • uncle george

    What about your greedy selfish businessmen who almost bankrupt America?  How abput Wall Street and your big banks.Why are you blaming the people caught in the fire insted of the people that caused the fire?What about your business that sent your jobs overseas for more profit?

  • Muggs Garner

    I CONCUR IN ALL NIKIMINAJ HAS SAID ABOUT THOSE HAVING CHILDREN WHEN THEY CAN’T AFFORD TO TAKE CARE OF THEM I.E., “kEEP YOUR LEGS CROSSED”. I LIVE ON A VERY LIMITED BUDGET, SPENDING APPROXIMATELY $30 DOLLARS PER WK. I PLAN AHEAD AS TO WHAT I CAN AFFORD TO BUY. I EAT BEANS IN PLACE OF MEAT. WENT TO THE GROCERY A FEW WKS AGO AND THE LADY AHEAD OF ME HAD JUST PURCHASED LOBSTER, POTATO CHIPS, AND NUMEROUS OTHER LUXURIES USING HE TX. WELFARE CREDIT CARD.
    YES, I FEEL COMPASION FOR THOSE LESS FORTUNATE THEN MYSELF BUT NOT WHEN THEY BILK THE TAXPAYERS. I AM TOLD I SHOULD LEARN HOW “TO WORK THE SYSTEM”.

  • John Armstrong

    The Food Stamp system is more then a safety net, it is a way for the people of the wealthiest nation on Earth to keep millions from starving and keep  a semblance of moral fortitude for us as humans. The argument that Food Stamps keep people from struggling to succeed is a false premise and part of a Right Wing narrative expounded by a few “Social issue” comentators and politicians. We as a nation long ago decided that this was a beneficial course to support the common good of our people. We also determined through arguments and legislation long ago that such safety net programs do more good to struggling people then anything. Overall we are in a crisis and we must do whatever we have to do to make sure people do not starve, no matter who is in power. There is less then 1% fraud in the system as it is now and that’s pretty good in my book. Any other nation would move Heaven and Earth to feed it’s people even if it meant making the wealth of a few less of a priority. 

  • Mzgoya

    It’s really sad that some people are so judgmental. Some people are on food stamp assistance not because they choose too but because they lost their jobs due to layoffs and had to feed their families. Now would you call that person lazy or trying to do the best to feed their family with the resources that they have available to them, and let’s not forget these same people that have been laid off from their jobs have paid their taxes to the government ,so why shouldn’t they go to the government for help when they need it.

  • Asiansnow36

    this world wont change because people dont see the real way of life untill it happens to them

  • Asiansnow36

    this is very true,theres people that have kids just to have kids and use the system, i was also at the store and seen this family that had 10 kids babys haveing babys and staying on the system because they get everything handed to them.im not agenced foodstamps im agenced the people that use the system to get ahead thats what makes it harder for the people that need the help that dont use the system not get the proper help they need, when somebody is on welfare that has children needs to take it into consideraction that that child or them children will be branded for the rest of there lifes if there parents dont show them the real way of life..that means working, going to school and becomeing somebody some day.

  • Anonymous

    I do not understand how the couple with free rent, a disability check and one working 30-32 hrs a week for $9.00/hr would have a hard time. Since the church owned the house they lived in they did not pay property tax. They had at most a utility payment, car and insurance. 

  • Anonymous

     They didn’t look too hungry either (very big)! And they were also spending more time playing solitaire on their computer than looking for more work!

  • beni60

    If you listened? He could only get part time work at 9.00$ per hour. How quickly we want to judge. Perhaps it just makes us feel better because the problem is so vast. One out of every seven americans on food stamps?Would YOU want to be on food stamps if you didnt have to be?

  • Anonymous

    beni60 - Did you listen or read? 30-32 hrs a week is part-time. They had no rent or property tax payments, she receives disability, he works 30-32 hrs a week for $9.00 an hour. They may not be doing well but they should not be broke. 

  • guest

    You say that the man is, “a little on the heavy side.” Possibly due to a glandular condition or the food his family can afford while receiving are mostly starches (he did mention eating a lot of pasta) which are quite fattening.

  • guest

    Is it possible that the father(s) of the 2 children can’t pay support because they are out of work in this economy? Ohio does require that the father be named when applying for food assistance. Please think trhough before posting.

  • guest

    Everybody may lie but you are wrong to say that nothing is actually checked. All applicants must have a Social Security number and the State agency must verivy that the number/name/date of birth all match with Social Security so a made up number will disqualify an applicant. After the SSN is verified, a match with IRS is made to see what, if any, types of income may be posted to the record (wages/self-employment/dividends/interest/capital gains/more) and if this does not match the info provided by the applicant, the applicant’s claim is denied.

  • guest

    Unfortuately, if you provide them with money, he must report it to the State agency and his FS amount will be reduced or terminated.

  • guest

    I work for a non-profit which assists clients in compleating applications including Food Stamps (Food Assistance in Ohio). The application does ask about all utility payments including telephone and cable.

  • guest

    Don’t forget clothing, medical expenses & medications, which would eat up the rest of their income. And it is not “free rent” it is a barter relationship where she does the church’s books in exchange for rent. This saves the church money as it does not have to pay for an accountant.

  • butro78

    $367/month for 2 people, a grown man and a 6-yr old and they can’t make that work?????   emeals. they create a great menu for you based on the latest store discounts. check out this wal-mart meal plan for 2 that will cost $35-$45/week…$140-$180/month. and they have tons of other plans as well: http://emeals.com/meal-plans/wal-mart-meal-plan-2  

  • butro78

    I think the point of all of this is that these people on assistance can’t seem to make ends meet even when they’re given exorbitant amounts of money.  It comes down to not using it wisely.  Take the father and 6-yr old son. They were getting $367 a month for food, but the father said he was running out of that a week and a half early, and that he couldn’t afford to give his child nutritious meals on the amount he was given.  Does this really make logical sense to anyone?  This company 
    http://emeals.com/meal-plans/wal-mart-meal-plan-2 says you can have an entire month’s worth of meals for 2 for around $140-$180…they actually do it for a living for people who want to live more frugally.  or is this too much of a hardship for people w/out jobs.  asking too much?  

  • butro78

    I think the point of all of this is that these people on assistance can’t seem to make ends meet even when they’re given exorbitant amounts of money.  It comes down to not using it wisely.  Take the father and 6-yr old son. They were getting $367 a month for food, but the father said he was running out of that a week and a half early, and that he couldn’t afford to give his child nutritious meals on the amount he was given.  Does this really make logical sense to anyone?  This company 
    http://emeals.com/meal-plans/wal-mart-meal-plan-2 says you can have an entire month’s worth of meals for 2 for around $140-$180…they actually do it for a living for people who want to live more frugally.  or is this too much of a hardship for people w/out jobs.  asking too much?  

  • butro78

    Just out of curiosity, during your many years of able working, did it ever occur to you to save for the time when you wouldn’t want to or couldn’t work?  I’ve been sacrificing and prioritizing like crazy since I was 24 years old, so I don’t have to live off of anyone else when I’m older.  your grandchildren can thank me later…

  • butro78

    Just out of curiosity, during your many years of able working, did it ever occur to you to save for the time when you wouldn’t want to or couldn’t work?  I’ve been sacrificing and prioritizing like crazy since I was 24 years old, so I don’t have to live off of anyone else when I’m older.  your grandchildren can thank me later…

  • butro78

    oh my gosh.  you are joking right?  please tell me you don’t think you need to send them more than the $367/month they’re already getting.  what you could do is buy a subscription to emeals though that will guide this lost father step-by-step on how to cook nutritious meals for only $140-$180/month, even meal plans and recipes!..so that he can save hundreds of dollars each month: 
    http://emeals.com/meal-plans/wal-mart-meal-plan-2

  • butro

    Wow, if I lived off of food stamps here in Nebraska, I’d live like a king.
    http://dhhs.ne.gov/children_family_services/Pages/fia_guidelines.aspx   $200 a month for 1 person would be almost quadruple what I’ve been living off of for over 5 years now, and I’m doing great.  Before you make a statement like “when they can barely feed you” maybe you should look at the actual numbers and do some critical thinking.  

  • Anonymous

    I’ve fortunately, never had to apply for such benefits, but I don’t begrudge those who do. It is especially shocking and troubling to me that 40% of the recipients are children, followed by the working poor and elderly. Is there abuse in the system? Probably…of course any gov. program usually has this to a degree. This having been said, are there ways to teach/help people better utilize what meager benefits they have? Maybe a good idea. Regarding the father and son, he seems like a great Dad who really is trying to do the right thing. $365 on food a month personally sounds sufficient to me, but food, especially fresh veggies/produce, etc. are high. I recall both me and my partner being unemployed at one time last year, for over a year each, and as 2 grown adults we managed to eat well and nutritiously for about $120 month. Essentially it boiled down to choices: rarely red meat, fresh fish, or seafood, but lots of chicken (would get a 10 lb. bag of chicken frozen in bulk for $7), lots of grains, tuna, peanut butter, bulk eggs, home-made soups and stews and casseroles, pasta, rice, beans, frozen veggies, bulk fruit, potatoes, etc. I would buy a large ham or turkey at $1.19/lb 12-15lbs), cook it, cut it up and freeze the other 10 lbs. That would last for a good 1-2 months at least. It was work, but we never went hungry and had plenty of left overs. It also helped that we lived near many stores that catered to less well off consumers, etc. We also didn’t consume much dairy and no junk food like chips, soda, etc. Have I seen people at the market use an EBT card to buy an expensive cake or a 3lb. bag of shrimp for $25? Sure, but rarely. Again, it’s about choices. To this day, I am very cautious in how I spend. I could say, for example, buy a bag of chips for $4.00, or 4-6 cans tuna, 4 boxes veggie rice or pasta, 3 lbs. potatoes, 2 lbs. dry beans, or a reasonable amount of chicken. I think if we allow the gov. to mandate what people can purchase it’s going down a slippery slope. If someone only gets say $50/month and they spend it on cakes, coffee, candy, and the like…it seems to me that sooner or later they will catch on that they need to change their decisions.

  • jan

     Several problems.  Children need all the food groups.  Fish and red meat are part of a healthy diet.  Bulk doesn’t work that well for an adult and a small child.  And you have to have a freezer big enough to hold all that food you think he freeze. 

  • Caseymclerran

    What is even worse about the food stamp system is how hard it is to get help if you are working and married to a working person. Two incomes you can’t make it and you can’t get help. This should be he best job I have ever had but still it is not enough….

  • Angiersj

     In addition to needing a freezer to keep bulk froze items you need electricity to power that freezer, which could be expensive.

  • Angiersj

    @JimBobJones1 Actually obesity rates are higher the lower the income. There is a lot of scientific data that says that it’s isn’t so much the quantity, but the quality of the calories you consume. A cheaper carb rich diet will make you fat even if you under eat. Gary Taubes covers this in his books and talks.

  • Angiersj

    @ butro78 Quit trying to sell your “program”

  • Bob

    It’s honestly hard to find any theologian or moralist who argues against letting people starve to death if they don’t work — to do otherwise would conflict with most ideas of justice. Really, people are advocating for insurance programs: one entered into before birth (along the lines of John Rawls in modern terms) or those entered into privately (through customs like carring for strangers, gleaning the fields, etc.; honoring family obligations; entering into private insurance contracts; etc.) . The Rawlsian option tends to be favored by one party, the private by another; both are seeking the same goal (though by different means) and both have some overlap (both groups would probably argue for a govenment role in the case of extreme events (e.g., war). If individual ethics break down, the private option tends to fail; if the police can’t be policed, the public option tends to fail (a common criticism is that much of the social spending tends to go to rent-seeking intermediates in a “welfare-industrial complex” rather than to those in need as in a Moynihan/Nixon cash transfer arrangement).

    Politics often drives policies rather than morals. A state might try to force feed a Bobby Sands to maintain authority. Subsidies are often used to buy votes. Traditionally, one party favors means-tested approaches (e.g., Medicaid), the other more universal policies (e.g., Medicare, at least for seniors and some other groups). The current trend is to impose conditions on benefits (to prevent entitlement dependency by end-users, if not intermediates). If an insurance program is, on average, consistently giving more benefits to some groups at the expense of others, one side might question the design of the insurance program, the other side might argue to cultural or other factors that conspire against a particular group.

    Inequalities arise not just from the economic system (i.e., capitalism versus something else), but also from the political system (a republic has some sort of aristocratic branch built into it, and school kids don’t pledge allegiance to a democracy). Protests on different sides are mainly over how great the differences should be (and whether to use regulation or competition).

    I don’t think many would begrudge other modest amounts for food (many people lucky enough not to be on welfare are in their position, in part, because they are frugal and eat a lot of beans and rice), but the goal posts for defining hunger can change: a FOREIGN AFFAIRS article used 2000 calories/day as a standard for “food insecurity.” 

    Some Keynes comments spoke of people working 2 hours a day as productivity increases over the past century played out; the U.S. tends to fire people, though other countries have traditions of lowering hours for everyone. There have been full emplyment efforts (e.g., Humphrey-Hawkins), but the Fed also enforces some minimum level of unemployment (with the goal of containing inflation). Ultimately, people have to have a discussion about the purpose of work (which sometimes comes up culturally in a movie like DISCLOSURE), the need for growth (which is a relatively modern focus), and the relative roles of ethics and government.

  • Manfred

    its easy to find three or four out of 17000000 to make your case.  But why don’t you also pick the same number of anecdotes who do not deserve their food stamps?  I watch your show for no other reason than to pick out the bias each week.  You need to try harder because you make it so easy.

    I suggest you hire a skeptic to review you editorial choices before you air them.

    a few conservative reporters would also help.

  • Anonymous

    When I was a kid, we lived in a third world country, where there was 1% Rich, a 15% Middle Class and an 84% Poor.

    We lived in an apartment and one night, a knock on the door. I answered the door and the fellow in the shadows asked in English “Do you have any food you can give me?” I turned to get my Dad, and when I did the man said “It is better to Beg than to Steal”.

    There were four of us living in a one bedroom apartment, I slept on a couch. We gave him a few cans of food.

    I never forgot that and I saw Poverty, lots of it but I also saw wealth, Lincolons, Cadillacs and Rich people while families lived in one room tin shantys with a single light bulb in the middle of the shanty shining through the slits in the card board.

    Today, we have, over the last 30 years, seen our wages flat and while the productivity is much higher and the money that should have been passed along to those who made the Productivity possible, has been not flowing and filling the pockets of “the bosses” the Corporation Executives, and a minority, just like the 3rd world country I lived as a kid.

    The difference between the USA and the 3rd World Country 50 years ago was our govenment, we “incentivized” Corporations and the Wealthy with Tax Laws to create a Middle Class and eradicate poverty. That was all removed with Ronald Reagan and the series of Rich who have controlled our Government with Money and bribes to our Congress, Courts, and the Presidents mainly Ronald Reagan.

    I visited Australia, the Australian Dollar is about equal in purchasing power as the US Dollar, they have Universal Health Care and a “Minimum Living Wage”. At 16 years old, the Minimum wage is $7 an hour, at 21, the minimum wage is $15 an hour. What is wrong with us?

    Gringrich is one of those “Rich 1%” of the Third World Countries that had most of the wealth and could care less about anyone but the 1% but lies and presents himself as looking out for the family, in your program on Food Stamps.

    The fellow’s child will probably serve his country in the Military, while Gingrich and his like will not.
    He will learn how to kill and defend himself.

    Think of him coming back, like the 22% Veterans who are unemployed, on food stamps today. I think, I would provide an address of the likes of Gingrinch, to “knock on their doors, begging for food and finishing with the tag line of ‘It is better to Beg than to Steal”.

    Disgusting these guys on the Presidential Stump.

  • Anonymous

    I agree, but I’ve managed to freeze large amounts of bulk meat in a standard type top freezer/fridge. This includes a 22 lb. ham, 26 lb. turkey, other various cuts of meat. Also they will be cooked and cut down. He didn’t mention lack of electricity? Storing more food in my freezer has not increased my electric bills. Leaving on unused lights, electronics, does.

    I have compassion for him; just saying–you can make it if you really try. It takes effort. In my humble opinion, men can’t or do not like to cook from scratch. This is key to saving money. Women are better at stretching limited resources. Again, no blame, no shame. Trying to help.

    Blessings

  • Anonymous

    True. Buy staples in bulk: sugar, tea, coffee, flour, butter, bread, jams, beans, rice, canned veggies, fresh fruit, peanut-butter, pasta, sauce, cheese, potatoes, onions, greens.

    You can easily store 2 frozen turkeys, a few hams, lean chicken breasts, and what ever…in a standard sized freezer. I’ve done it. I know.

    Being poor doesn’t have to mean being unhealthy. But it requires work. $360 would last me almost 3 months, for two grown adults, even in 2012.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PP5N4QI2JOG3QKW72OAENRBJL4 Dany

    america  will be  like greece in 3 years

  • Domallen2

    actually in gap/capita we haven’t been number one for a while 

  • Jason NYC

    It took me 5yr before I got Food Stamps because I thought I’d have a job that would last longer then a month so its a job or Food Stamps just to get by

  • http://www.facebook.com/apolonia.sanchez.7 Apolonia Sanchez

    I totally agree.

  • http://www.facebook.com/apolonia.sanchez.7 Apolonia Sanchez

    I totally agree.

  • http://www.facebook.com/charles.hodge.5680 Charles Hodge

    your forgetting one thing. democrats are job killers, you can thank the union for that. i was in the union. i got out of it. it’s perfect for crooks and lazy people. why are democratsjob killers? it’s called control. and depend. they want american people to depend on the government. thats where the control comes in.your right on one thing tho. to many people call theiself christians and are not! republicans love money. democrats love control, abortions. same sex marriage, money. ask al gore how he got rich. and besides anyone who believes obama shouldn’t drink the kool-aid.

  • Angry Democrat

    You don`t know what the hell your talking about. Republicans have donated millions more that the rich Democrats who control the media and movie industries.

  • Angry Democrat

    And how about the $150.00 to $250.00 Air Jordans that every kid in the projects just have to have.

  • Angry Democrat

    I worked for $10.00 a hour from 1972 until 1986. I bought my house on the GI bill. I never owned a new car and on weekends I mowed my lawn with a used mower. I didn`t take extended vacations. I didn`t buy designer clothing. I raised 4 boys and paid child support for 2 girls. We ate, not lobsters or rib-eye, but we did have meat. Fast food was cheap, but not everyday did we buy it. The job I had went out of business in 1980, but I didn`t sit around drawing unemployment. In fact, over the time I started working until I retired, I only drew unemployment for no more than 5 weeks. The day I heard that the plant was soon closing, I started looking for a new job in my field. I went to work at a small plant for $1.00 an hour less, but it was a job. I never applied for assistance of any kind. When I retired in 2000, I was making $20.00 an hour in a non union shop. I had been promoted on my ability, not because some union said I had to be. Although the economy has tanked, and we are living on only Social Security, I am able to live within my means by being frugal. I can now buy the lobster and rib-eye once in awhile, but I learned to cook.

  • Angry Democrat

    Joan. What make you think that people with money never knew what it was like to do without. A majority of these people clawed their way to the top by applying themselves in school, working hard and saving their money, going on for a higher education and learning how to make it in the world, not sitting back hoping the government will support them.