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Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015

Funds at risk: Once known as food stamps, SNAP provides food to poor

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Randy Carnell loads bananas from the Southeast Missouri Food Bank on Friday to be driven to a mobile food pantry for distribution.
(Fred Lynch) [Order this photo]
Jessica Espinoza, left, of Leet EyeCare, unloads food collected by employees Friday with Mary Thatch, community outreach coordinator with the Southeast Missouri Food Bank.
(Fred Lynch)
EDITOR'S NOTE: Comments sent by the office of Sen. Roy Blunt, R-MO, were mistakenly not included in a story about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the 2012 Farm Bill in Sunday's Southeast Missourian and online at http://www.semissourian.com/story/186595.... The comments follow:

"I'm pleased the Senate was able to work together to pass this bill, which takes steps to reduce the deficit and save taxpayers more than $23 billion overall. I'll continue looking for ways to reduce fraud and abuse in all programs, including nutrition programs, which make up nearly 80 percent of Farm Bill spending."

Original story

She used to work two jobs and made good money.

Now a health condition keeps her from working full-time. So a 32-year-old Cape Girardeau single mom depends on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, to help her take care of her 3-year-old son.

The $342 a month the woman, who asked not to be named, receives from the SNAP program could be cut as part of a plan to save taxpayer dollars and reduce fraud under the 2012 Farm Bill approved in June by the U.S. Senate.

The bill, known as the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act, provides subsidies to farmers and funds the USDA's nutrition assistance programs for low-income Americans.

The five-year bill includes a $4.5 billion cut to the SNAP program, expected to cause about 500,000 households to lose an estimated $90 per month in benefits. The entire farm bill passed by the Senate on June 21 includes $23 billion in spending reductions across several USDA programs.

Missouri's 8th congressional district has more SNAP recipients than any other in the state, with 44,858 households receiving assistance in 2010, according to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service. Statewide, 260,735 households, comprised of more than 900,000 people, received $1.4 billion in food benefits through SNAP in 2010. Missouri has a higher SNAP participation rate than two-thirds of the rest of the United States.

Because SNAP benefits are administered by each individual state, it's not clear how many Missouri recipients will be affected by the proposed cuts, but local agencies who work with those in need say this couldn't come at a worse time.

"Cutting nutrition programs that serve vulnerable, low-income families, children and seniors will undoubtedly increase hunger in Southeast Missouri and drive more people to food pantries that we serve at a time when we are already stretched," said Karen Green, executive director of the Southeast Missouri Food Bank in Cape Girardeau. "We simply cannot make up the difference."

Cuts to SNAP will target people who have no recourse to help themselves, said John McGowan, CEO of Love INC, a faith-based not-for-profit organization that works with local churches to help those in need.

"You're targeting the most needy that are already making decisions about whether to pay their light bill or buy their medication. This will push them from the brink of poverty to nearly destitution," he said. "The only help they have will be to turn to the community."

Community food pantries, including the Jackson Ministerial Alliance Food Pantry in Jackson and FISH Food Pantry and Christ Episcopal Church in Cape Girardeau are seeing record numbers of people coming for assistance and are already having to limit how many times people may come for help, McGowan said.

The Farm Bill does include a $10 million increase in funds for the Emergency Food Assistance Program, which assists food banks. While Green is thankful to see this bump up in funds, she says it will have a minimal impact due to the increasing number of people coming to food banks for assistance.

In 2010 the SEMO Food Bank served 40,000 people monthly, but last year that number increased to 55,000 people each month in the 16 Southeast Missouri counties it serves.

Supporters of the Farm Bill say the legislation will crack down on food stamp fraud, including the practice of selling one's SNAP benefits for cash, known as trafficking.

The most recent analysis from 2006 to 2008 indicated that trafficking diverted one cent of each benefit dollar, or about $330 million annually. The amount of benefits trafficked has been cut in half compared to 1998 when $660 million in SNAP benefits were estimated to be sold for cash.

"The role of the Farm Bill is to advocate for American producers and markets for U.S. agriculture so we can continue to enjoy the most abundant, affordable food supply in the world. It's also an important opportunity to re-evaluate nutrition programs and to make necessary changes to eliminate any waste, fraud and abuse. Congress must ensure these supplemental benefits go to those who truly need the assistance. Ensuring the integrity of our nation's nutrition programs will be an important priority for the House Agriculture Committee as they begin debating their bill," said Rep. Jo-Ann Emerson, R-Cape Girardeau, in a statement via email.

The Senate version of the Farm Bill also prevents lottery winners from receiving SNAP benefits and limits SNAP eligibility for college students.

The house is expected to take up the Farm Bill when members of congress return to Washington, D.C., after the Independence Day holiday break. According to Feeding America, a network of food banks that includes SEMO Food Bank, the House's version of the Farm Bill contains even deeper cuts to SNAP and reductions in other nutrition spending totaling $14 billion.

This includes a proposed cut to the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which several schools in Southeast Missouri participate in to provide students the opportunity to try fresh fruit and vegetables funded by USDA during the school day, Green said.

"Investing in hunger relief makes sense fiscally and is a cost-effective use of taxpayer dollars and an investment in our nation's future. Hunger increases health care costs, lowers worker productivity, harms children's development and diminishes their educational performance. These are costs that we cannot afford," she said.

Legislators are balancing the good work that a few rural farmers are doing against the huge demand of rural people who don't have the income possibilities that exist in urban centers, McGowan said.

Missouri Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt did not respond to requests for comments about the proposed SNAP benefit reductions.



Pertinent address:

3920 Nash Road, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

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Something needs to be done! Every gas station and dollar store now sells milk, bread and O.J. so that they can qualify to accept EBT cards. I see young, able bodied, well dressed people in there buying candy, potato chips, pop and even bottled water on their EBT cards.

When you see someone in a grocery store pushing a cart, while another, (obviously unrelated) is filling it, they are trafficing. The article claims that trafficing only accounts for 1 percent. It's far worse than that. The authorities don't bother checking because they don't care. Their jobs depend on people being ON food stamps and they don't want anybody kicked off.

It's a joke and it's only one of the give away programs that is breaking the back of the U.S. economy.

-- Posted by thewonder on Sun, Jul 1, 2012, at 8:20 AM

thewonder: This administration is spending 2.5 million dollars for Food Stamp advertising encouraging people to sign up for the program as they strongly believe it will spur the economy just like they believed the three year 99 week unemployment benefits and the 787 billion stimulus did, were worse off now than four years ago the economy has got worse. More social entitlements. I see the same when I'm in the store people with EBT cards purchasing a lot of junk food with the card. Majority of these people appear to look very healthly and could be working but since we have turned in to an entitlement social society over the past four years I doubt that is going to happen, unless the people change it come November and for the sake of my kids and grand kids I hope they do. We cannot continue to run down this dark social entitlement road were on or it will lead to a complete financial collaspe. Europe tried this and you see where it got them.

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Sun, Jul 1, 2012, at 9:18 AM

I hope you know that I am an able-bodied person working TWO part time JOBS and I STILL have to get SNAP benefits to feed me and my son. Jobs DO NOT pay here like they do in big cities. And you try to buy the healthy food on SNAP, because let me tell you, I've tried it. You will be starving in a week. I wished they'd make the junk food expensive and the healthy food cheaper. AND NO I DO NOT LIVE in some big fancy house with a mortgage. We live in a borrowed RV and driving a car that was given to us, so don't presume to know that you know what type of people are on SNAP. THANK YOU.

-- Posted by soapboxdriver on Sun, Jul 1, 2012, at 9:54 AM

Here's the deal. Say you make like me, $1012 per month. "Rent" is $400...on the RV we live in. Light bill this month is $85.00....Insurance on car is $75.00...Gas for car for my second job is $25.00 PER DAY, and the second job doesn't even hold out taxes as you are "not" their employee....so you have to hold out about $60 per week for taxes. HOPE you don't have a flat tire or need brakes anytime soon! NOT counting any personal or household items like TP, shampoo, etc. And food and fuel isn't cheap, either...Are you getting the picture????

-- Posted by soapboxdriver on Sun, Jul 1, 2012, at 10:04 AM

And one more thing. I am going to college and will graduate in December with an Associates in Business Administration. So there goes a whole lot of money out for repayment of student loans. I know there are some low lifes who would trade their SNAP benefits for money or whatever, but it is NOT me and my son and I hate that MOST people PRESUME to lump us in with the bad apples. NOW I'm done.

-- Posted by soapboxdriver on Sun, Jul 1, 2012, at 10:08 AM

NO, I'm not done...I forgot to say I DO NOT ask for help at a pantry, either. I try to save that for people worse off than us.

-- Posted by soapboxdriver on Sun, Jul 1, 2012, at 10:10 AM


Where's the boy's daddy?

-- Posted by FreedomFadingFast on Sun, Jul 1, 2012, at 11:16 AM

Swamp, the US has been an entitlement society for far longer than the past four years.....try decades! Laying all this on the president is just not working for you.

-- Posted by bball15 on Sun, Jul 1, 2012, at 12:01 PM

Why not just take it all away and give the Military another 2-3 billion to build another bomber with.

-- Posted by 3forone on Sun, Jul 1, 2012, at 1:31 PM

I think you left out the part that you will probably receive $6000 in earned income credit when you file your income taxes.

-- Posted by suefrommo on Sun, Jul 1, 2012, at 2:08 PM

bball15 he has nearly tripled the entitlements since he has been in office, I thought his pledge was "Hope and Change" "Change We Can Believe In" oh yea were really changing for the better, where is it. The longest recession in americas history 77% of the middle class will receive a tax increase regarding his health care reform act, also Medicare will be cut by 500 billion dollars because of that law. Oh yes "Change We Can Believe In" and you keep believing that one.

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Sun, Jul 1, 2012, at 3:08 PM

Soap: Where is the boy's daddy who is suppose to be supporting his children?

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Sun, Jul 1, 2012, at 3:10 PM

Tiwercs: For years I was on the other side of the desk than the recipients. I saw so many absentee fathers that could care less. I saw some amazing fathers who would do anything for their child which of course was few and far between. There is abuse in the program just as there is in every government system, and that includes the authorities of the system. suefrommo: I would also like to see the earned income credit eliminated because it is just another handout that is abused. It does not affect assistance because it is only an available resource that must be spent down in 30 days. Usually it is spent on something frivolous rather than reliable transportation to be able to work or even as a down payment on a home. The program provides enough for participants considering income to be used to supplement for food. Even still these people all know where all the handouts are and hit them all every month. This duplication should be eliminated, and that would help the problem that people who really need the help because they do not have any other resource. I would really like to see the people who truly need the help, get it. Usually those are not the people you will see waiting in line.

-- Posted by Kac on Sun, Jul 1, 2012, at 3:33 PM

At first I felt bad reading soap's diatribes, but then I thought about my sister who was in a similar situation. She had Uverse, a Sprint phone with a bigger data package than me, etc. Probably what this individual is posting with...a cell phone with a nice data package. Sorry, but no sympathy here, especially if you are dumb enough to spend $750 a month on GAS and you only earn $1012. Make better choices. Not presuming you are female as others have. FWIW, sister moved and took a job making more money. Nobody is dictating you have to stay in the heel.

-- Posted by quiksand on Sun, Jul 1, 2012, at 3:42 PM

lots of those who make bitter post like Tiwercs and swampeastmissouri have filed for bankruptcy and some form of government aid they are bitter they did not qualify they come on blogs like this post sour grapes at those who qualified

-- Posted by huntress2 on Sun, Jul 1, 2012, at 7:43 PM

Glad to see query doesn't believe a father has any responsibility for the children he produces. Typical liberal.

-- Posted by FreedomFadingFast on Sun, Jul 1, 2012, at 8:58 PM

The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U. S. Department of Agriculture is proud to be distributing the greatest amounts of free meals and food stamps ever.

Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U. S. Department of the Interior, asks us to "Please don't feed the animals."

Their stated reason for the policy is because the animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn how to take care of themselves.

This ends today's lesson.

How very true.

-- Posted by suefrommo on Sun, Jul 1, 2012, at 11:48 PM

The Great Society (i.e. welfare) was promoted by President Lyndon B. Johnson and Democrats in the 1960s. Two main goals were the elimination of poverty and racial injustice. Major spending programs that addressed education, medical care, urban problems, and transportation were launched. After many billions of $, nothing's changed, except more people are on the dole. Graduation rates are even worse. Urban areas are a war zone. I defer to suefrommo's comments above.

-- Posted by JungleJim on Mon, Jul 2, 2012, at 12:13 AM

Tiwercs, I adopted this boy. His bio mom (my neice)killed herself on a drug overdose (my neice), and the bio father is somewhere in Texas (another self medicated pill popper) This boy is so lucky there is nothing wrong with him as he was born with 5 different class X drugs in his tiny body! And if you, Quiksand, can tell me where to someone will hire me for a better job, I will take it. I don't have a fancy phone with a big data package. I can barely afford a basic phone with a $25 Net10 card each month. I don't have fancy bling, nor do I smoke or drink.

-- Posted by soapboxdriver on Mon, Jul 2, 2012, at 8:13 AM

Suefrommo, NO, this job that doesn't pay out taxes? Will take any taxes I'm due. SO I'm pretty sure I will pay next year.

-- Posted by soapboxdriver on Mon, Jul 2, 2012, at 8:14 AM

I've been putting in apps at any place hiring, and I don't get a call or even an interview (which by law, if you apply, they are obligated to give you an interview whether they hire you or not-so go figure). I'd gladly work a full time job with benefits, and get off of SNAP. My father worked hard all of his life to provide for us and we never received SNAP benefits. I don't believe in the "Entitlement" mentality.

-- Posted by soapboxdriver on Mon, Jul 2, 2012, at 8:21 AM

Quiksand, I just re read your comment. I am not typing this in from a big fancy phone with a big data package. I am typing this in on a borrowed computer. God bless this individual a hundred fold for allowing me to look for a better house/job over the Internet, while I am trying to defend myself.

-- Posted by soapboxdriver on Mon, Jul 2, 2012, at 9:50 AM

And yes, sadly (because my parents and sisters and families still live here) we will most likely have to leave this "Poor House" called the Bootheel to have a better life.

-- Posted by soapboxdriver on Mon, Jul 2, 2012, at 9:52 AM

I would not judge any one of you, whether you were born with a Silver Spoon in your mouths, or not. I hope everyone of you has a very blessed day and have favor everywhere you go. I hope you all never have to face the uncertainty of where your next meal comes from, where you next bed may lie. Good day to you all.

-- Posted by soapboxdriver on Mon, Jul 2, 2012, at 9:55 AM

soapboxdriver: "I've been putting in apps at any place hiring, and I don't get a call or even an interview (which by law, if you apply, they are obligated to give you an interview whether they hire you or not-so go figure)."

What law is that? If I get 1,000 applications I have to interview or at least call them all? There is no such law, and it would be a ridiculous waste of everyone times if their was such a law.

If you are despite for better employment you need to improve yourself in ways that will set you apart from the masses. Going for your Associates Degree in Business doesn't do that at all. Generic AA degrees (and even generic BA degrees) are a dime a dozen these days. Unless you are going into math, science or engineering you should likely choose a technical path if you need to provide for your adopted son as quickly and efficiently as possible.

If I was starting from nothing I would look at the fastest valued certifications one could get(or join the military, although that is probably out for a single parent). A weekend of effort can get you a Class E license or a CPR cert both of which can open up additional jobs and add additional lines to your resume. Within a month you could get a EMT-B or CNA. Not that either pays that well but being able to consistently get 40+ hours of $11-$12 wages each week is likely as good or better than where you currently stand. Once you have that then you can shoot to become a full paramedic, EKG tech, LPN, etc.... within a 12-18 months you should be able to very realistically become solidly lower middle class citizen with a 25k-30k income which should get a household of two off SNAP and most other public assistance. Then you can turn to focusing on preparing for whatever degree or course of study that you truly want to do in order to bring you up another rung or two on the ladder.

-- Posted by Nil on Mon, Jul 2, 2012, at 10:37 AM

Look what the central planners have done to us.

There's just not enough wealth to go around....particularly when it passes through the central government first. Particularly when we're shackled to worthless fiat currency, which won't preserve our purchasing power.* Soapboxdriver sounds pretty well-intentioned; the meddlers in DC fiddle around while watching us post our poisonous screeds, waiting to see who will break and exhibit the most primitive reaction first. Enough. They aren't bringing out what's good in ANYBODY.

Paragraph 5 says, "$4.5 billion cut in SNAP" over 5 years, which is $900 million per year, doing the math. It says it causes 500,000 households to lose $90 per month in benefits, which would be $90 x 12 x 500,000 = $540 million per year. ?Where did the other $360 million go? Unless it's "non linear", that is, $90 per month is for part of the 5 year span, and it's more at some other point.

Haven't we all figured out by now that more government, more tinkering, just isn't the answer here? Do we have to let the certain failure of any government program push us to start a food war with our neighbors? Geez, I wish we could just kick the federal government to the curb. They are such a colossal failure---at everything.

*Good news on this front though! On June 5, 2012, 17 months after its introduction, Mrs. Emerson finally saw fit to cosponsor the Audit the Fed bill (H.R. 459). Oh, yay, now we might get to find out what's being done to the currency, and by whom. (The dollar is worth 4 cents compared with the 1913 dollar.) Why did she take so long?

-- Posted by Givemeliberty on Mon, Jul 2, 2012, at 11:34 AM

Nil, I was wrong- this is what the law states: While Title VII does not require employers to interview all applicants for a particular position (see Wheeler v. City of Columbus, 686 F.2d 1144 (5th Cir. 1982), denying an interview on the basis of a protected characteristic such as sex or race violates Title VII and opens employers up to civil liability and potential administrative enforcement actions. See Gillin v. Federal Paper Bd. Co., Inc., 479 F.2d 97 (2d Cir. 1973) (sex); Nanty v. Barrows Co., 660 F.2d 1327 (9th Cir. 1981) (race), overruled on other grounds by, O'Day v. McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Co., 79 F.3d 756 (9th Cir. 1996).

One way selection procedures may violate the law is by unintentionally disqualifying minorities or women from consideration for hiring at higher rates than other candidates. 29 C.F.R. 1607.16B. Employers may not use even seemingly neutral and objective selection procedures having such a disparate or adverse impact, unless it can be shown that the procedure is a reasonable measure of job performance in that it is job-related and justified by business necessity. See 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2(k); Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424 (1971).

However, in Missouri, you can be discriminated against and not be hired simply because you are too "heavy" for their liking. I'm 5'2" and weigh 232. Does that mean I cannot "think" at my job? Does that mean if I weigh that much, I became "dumb" or something???? Don't even get me started on weight, I've been battling it since I was 13. One little carb and I gain 10 lbs.

Since you say my Associate's Degree comes a dime a dozen, does that mean my 10 hours a week working my butt off in my classes is worthless? Here's the way I see it. It doesn't matter what your situation is, SOMEONE is ALWAYS going to kick you in the head!

-- Posted by soapboxdriver on Tue, Jul 3, 2012, at 8:14 AM

I would love to work in a doctor's office. There's no programs here in PB at TRCC that I am aware of to do so....there's a great place in Cape called Metro Business College and I've been wanting to go there for forever,but I don't live there...been looking and no one will take pets. And I wish they would put in a Metro here.

-- Posted by soapboxdriver on Tue, Jul 3, 2012, at 8:38 AM

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SNAP households

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides nutrition assistance to low-income Americans.
Missouri’s 8th congressional district is home to more SNAP recipients than any other in the state. Below are characteristics of SNAP households in Southern Missouri.

Households: 44,858
With one or more over age 60: 27 percent
With children: 48 percent
Below poverty level: 60 percent
White: 83 percent
African-American: 11 percent
Median income: $13,584

Map of pertinent addresses