Race and Poverty in Dixie pt. 2

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is time for part two of Race and Poverty in Dixie! In this blog I want to look at just how good these food stamp moochers have it. I won’t necessarily be dealing with the issue of race here, but rather the overall average family receiving SNAP benefits. However, go back and read part one and you can see how, at least in north Alabama, the races are distributed.

So according to some of the, umm, non-poor people for a lack of a better term, nearly everyone who receives food stamps is probably getting them because they’re either too lazy to work or just wants to live off the government. Also, as I said before, they’re eating, drinking, and being merry on the feast they buy with their food stamps every month. So I wanted to dig deeper into this. I wanted to look at an average family on SNAP benefits and see just how good they have it. The average family receiving benefits is a single parent with two kids. I know it’s hard to believe for some of you…mostly for all of you who think they shoot out kids like there’s a gumball machine between their legs so they can get more benefits…but this is the average household recipient.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, a household of three can receive a maximum monthly allotment of $511. Whoa! That’s insane! No wonder these people are living like fat cats over here! But wait…if you have a job, benefits begin to go down. Well, that’s okay…who needs a job when the government is giving you groceries right? So let’s just pretend that the junkie mother of our typical family doesn’t have one. (Although I will point out that the average family with children, after adjustments for their income, receives $413). Let’s do some basic arithmetic here…and don’t worry, it’s not the Common Core kind so hopefully all of you can follow it.

$511 divided by 3 = $170 a month per family member.
$170 divided by 30 days = $5.67 per day, per family member for food.
$5.67 divided by 2 (because let’s not get greedy and have 3 meals a day) = $2.83 per meal, per family member.

Now I want you to stop and reflect on this. I want you to really think about what you eat every day. I dare you for the next 30 days, add up the amount of money that you spend on groceries and food and tell me if you average $2.83 per meal per family member. I promise you, you won’t be anywhere near that unless you grow your own food. But hey, you have a job and you work for a living so you deserve to spend more. There’s no one criticizing you for that. No, quite the contrary. You’re the one criticizing those who do have to depend on SNAP benefits for simply not being like you.

If you thought THAT blew your mind, wait until you hear this! The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which is basically a bunch of rich guys in suits who analyze budget expenditures and figure out where we waste money, did a study on SNAP recipients. They found that in households without kids that receive SNAP benefits, 58% of the adults receiving these benefits work (keep in mind disabled people are also eligible for SNAP benefits and are figured in here). In households WITH children, 62% of the adults receiving benefits work. Within 12 months of their first time receiving SNAP benefits, 82% of adults in families without children end up working, and 87% of adults in families without children.

So obviously these numbers absolutely shatter this notion that the overwhelming majority of people on food stamps are lazy people who are eating lavishly and refusing to find a job. It’s quite the opposite. These people are forced into eating whatever cheap foods that they can get at the local grocery store so they don’t end up running out of food at the end of the month and not having a leftover balance from their benefits. And what kind of food is the cheapest thing to buy? Junk food. Processed food. Canned food. Frozen food. We ridicule people for not eating healthier, but yet they can’t afford to eat healthy. Those crazy Brits in the British Medical Journal found that eating healthier costs on average $1.56 more per day. Yeah that doesn’t SOUND like a lot…but scroll back up to how much these families have to spend on average each day.

So what’s the alternative? Do we eliminate benefits altogether and say work or starve to death? Do we say, “No you have to choose whether you’re going to pay your electric bill or feed Johnny and Sally”? I know that’s what a certain political party wants to do. Yet, we know that providing these benefits to poor families does help. Again going back to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, families with children who receive SNAP benefits are 18 times more likely to graduate than low income/poor families who do not receive SNAP benefits. Children from families receiving SNAP benefits are more alert in school. They’re not sitting and praying that lunch time hurries around because it’s the only meal they get to eat every day.

SNAP benefits do help. Rather than ridiculing those who receive them, we should be helping them. But today, in this narcissistic America, we would rather turn a blind eye. We look down on those who are less fortunate. We would rather tell them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, get a job, and take care of their kids. Oh how ignorant so many of us are.

Oh and one final note, if you’re curious about the sources I used–Center on Budget and Policy Priorities or the British Medical Journal–you can find them here.

http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=3744

http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/3/12/e004277.full?sid=f40b344f-ef24-4a2d-9c09-59516f35fefc

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