Food Banks Overwhelmed By Backlog In Food Stamp System

Food stamp cuts a cruel proposal

Conservatives see out-of-control spending, and many Republicans blame President Barack Obama. While seeking the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, Newt Gingrich labeled Obama the “food stamp president.” Some of the growth can be attributed to Obama’s food stamp policies, but Congress’ budget analysts blame most of it on the economy. The big factors: The SNAP program is an entitlement, meaning everyone who is eligible can get aid, no matter the cost to taxpayers. Millions of jobs were lost in the recession that hit in 2007. Unemployment is still high, and many people who have jobs are working fewer hours or for lower pay than before, meaning more people are eligible. Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus temporarily increased benefit amounts; that boost is set to expire on Nov. 1. Time limits for jobless adults without dependents are still being waived in most of the country. Food stamp eligibility requirements were loosened by Congress in 2002 and 2008, before Obama became president. Fluctuating food prices have driven up monthly benefit amounts, which are based on a low-cost diet. Fewer to feed? The number of people using food stamps appears to be leveling off this year, and long-term budget projections suggest the number will begin to fall as the economy improves. Why is it taking so long? Although the jobless rate has dropped from its 2009 peak, it remains high, leaving a historically large number of people eligible for food stamps. Since the recession began, a bigger portion of people who are eligible have signed up for food stamps than in the past.

Texas Food Fight Caught on Students’ Cell Phones

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Those who sent us letters to the editor this week were almost unanimous in their opposition to the Republican-controlled House’s vote to pass a spending cut that would remove nearly 4 million Americans from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, which provides aid to families and individuals who, for a variety of reasons, have significant trouble paying for food. Many said this action amounted to an attack on those who could least afford it; others called it immoral and unprecedented. Here is a selection of those letters. — Paul Thornton, letters editor Altadena resident J.H. Benson questions the GOP ‘s morality: “House Republicans are badly in need of a moral compass. Their hypocrisy is only surpassed by their cruelty. “The GOP says that the 4 million Americans who will be kicked off SNAP are capable of helping themselves. I hope that our very capable farmers aren’t being subsidized while this assistance to the poor is deemed too expensive.” Long Beach resident Matthew Black points out more pressing spending concerns: “The GOP has truly hit a new low. After increasing annual defense spending by more than $300 billion since 2001, spending $2 trillion on unnecessary wars and passing $1.7 trillion in tax cuts between 2001 and 2003 that primarily went to the wealthiest Americans, Republicans need to save $40 billion on food stamps. “Way to go. Why do I feel I’m reading a Charles Dickens novel? “And for those who might reply that Democrats should put their money where their mouths are, this week I donated another $250 to a local food bank. I contribute 5% of my disposable income to food banks.” Frances Terrell Lippman of Sherman Oaks picks up on the Dickens reference: “I guess those Scrooge-like, coldhearted House Republicans thought of an early holiday surprise. How generous of them to think it would be appropriate just to remind people who are hungry and struggling that it would get a little more impossible for them to feed their families.

The food fight between OConnor High School and Brandeis High School happened after Brandeis football team defeated OConnor 12-10 on Saturday night. Students from both schools headed to Whataburger where the wild food fight broke out. Cell phone video showed food, drinks and trays flying through the air as students ducked and screamed. Some students could be facing suspension for their actions, according to ABC News San Antonio affiliate KSAT-TV . Campus administrators will review videos to identify students who will face appropriate consequences including suspension from school, Northside Independent School district spokesman Pascual Gonzalez said in a statement to KSAT. NISD will also cooperate with law enforcement and restaurant management in pursuing criminal charges if warranted. (Credit: Steven Perez/FLickr) A spokesman for Whataburger said they will not be seeking criminal charges. The principals from both Brandeis and OConnor high schools have reached out to Whataburger to offer their sincere apology for the food fight, Whataburger Corporate Communications said in a statement to ABC News. In addition, students from both schools, whether they were involved or not, have come to our restaurant and apologized, and we greatly appreciate the outpouring of support. The burger chain said they understood that it was an emotional moment between small groups of students that were not representative of the entire student population. The Whataburger team will continue to welcome Brandeis and OConnor students at our restaurants and were also committed to continuing the partnership and support of both high schools, the statement said.

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Food stamp recipient Bill Rickrode worked with steel his whole life until he was put on disability because of health concerns. But suddenly his food stamp help stopped. “Last month I was up for my renewal. I didn’t get my food stamps…she said it might be 2 or 3 months, some people it has been 6 months,” Rickrode told ABC11. The state’s food stamp program transitioned to an electronic system called NC FAST last October, but a backlog started in July and snowballed. At the end of August, Wake County had a backlog of over 3,000 applications. So far in September, staff have processed just over 1,500 applications, but thousands of people are still without their food stamp help. “Now I can only afford to get $50 a week for myself and $50 ain’t much when you try to go to the meat counter and get 2 or 3 packs of meat, it’s gone,” said Rickrode. Therefore, thousands of local families are turning to food pantries for help. “With NC FAST we’ve actually seen an increase in the number of folks coming to our pantry for food because of delays,” said Dr. Peter Morris with Urban Ministries. Now all these families can do is wait for the food stamp program to serve them. “Food stamp program is supposed to serve individuals within 30 days and by all accounts counties are taking 40-60 days,” said Morris. “I get frustrated when I see on the news those DHS employees that got the big raises; yet, they’re the ones that’s supposed to be doing the work that’s getting our food.

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Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, tried to shame her colleagues into cutting less from the food stamp program (called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP). Speaking of representatives who would vote to take food from America’s tables, she said, “Some of these same members travel to foreign countries under the guise of official business. They dine at lavish restaurants, eating steak, vodka and even caviar.” Speier talked about 20 members of Congress who traveled to Ireland and got a daily food allowance of $166. The average amount a family member gets on food stamps is less than $4 a day. And The Des Moines Register reported that Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, received $3,588 in taxpayer funds for both food and lodging during a six-day trip to Russia. The Register urged King to try the “SNAP Challenge” and live on $4 a day. He could even try it in Russia. Yet our representatives, one after the other, mostly Republicans, stepped onto the House floor to speak and vote in the name of saving money for the taxpayer. They went after the poor, the unemployed, the single mom, the single dad, the grandparents — all those people who are trying to make it work. Well, they didn’t just do wrong; they are wrong.