Streams

Hunger Cliff

Friday, November 01, 2013

Triada Stampas, senior director of government relations for Food Bank for New York City, and Bill Tomson, senior agriculture reporter for POLITICO, discuss the cuts to food stamps that went into effect today.

Guests:

Margarette Purvis and Bill Tomson
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Comments [29]

Jennifer Gurahian from Westchester County, NY

This topic is a great example of how so many people let ideology trump the facts.

Fact 1. Most people on food stamps are already working full time.

Fact 2. The numbers used to determine eligibility are not just a little off, they are way off. The real income needed in the NY area to pay basic monthly expenses is close to $40,000. Even with subsidies, this is not what low income people get. There is just no short and simple way to identify all the things that any reasonable person knows are realistic and necessary expenses in the US today but know that the numbers are are not factored into the household budgets for low income Americans.

Fact 3: There is insufficient adjustment for differences in expenses in different cities. Formulas to determine eligibility and the dollar amounts given to clients do not reflect these regional differences. For example, the NY region has housing costs that are 5x the national average but has wages that are not 5x the national average.

Fact four: Poor people don't have more time - they have less. Time is money, and most low income workers get hourly wages so they don't get a paid lunch hour, they don't get paid when they take time off to go to the doctor, and they don't get paid when they have to wait hours at the local social services office for various mandatory appointments. Of course, this "time is money" fact applies to every other facet of life too. Most Food Pantries are only open for limited and specific times - times when many working poor have to either work or allocate to doing things, God forbid, for their children. Cooking affordable meals means cooking from scratch, shopping at stores that are in lower rent areas or require a car because you are shopping in bulk, and time again, is something low income parents don't have much of.

Finally, local departments of social services, at least in New York State, will use incorrect numbers to illegally award less money and fewer services and there is a very weak and limited enforcement process to counter this. The fair hearing process takes weeks and often months for just the initial hearing. Then local departments come unprepared so that the hearing examiner grants them a postponement, and this can go on for several more hearings. The hearings are generally located somewhere that is not easily accessible, and clients have to take off at least 1/2 a day from work to be at the hearing. The State of New York has never fined nor enacted any punitive measure against any County Department of Social Services for non-compliance. Thus, it's really a toothless enforcement measure.

This is not a short sound bite response. People who want to sum this up by denigrating food stamp recipients as lazy and irresponsible should look in the mirror, because it's lazy and irresponsible to stake out a position while remaining oblivious to irrefutable data.

Nov. 01 2013 12:13 PM

@Caesar Romaine from Manhattan

"nice job presenting two sides of an issue Brian!"

What cheese. The segment was actually about the EFFECTS OF THE CUTS, not their origin. An educated media consumer would be expected to know why the food assistance cuts were FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY disassociated from farm assistance budget items. That segment would require two voices. A segment on the effect of the cuts themselves does not.

Nice name.

Nov. 01 2013 10:42 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

@Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn -

OH, PLEASE ..... as the guest admitted, the temporary increase was because the Democrats wanted to inject money into the economy as part of the stimulus. And now it's over.
It was never about hunger ... and certainly not about tzedakah. Shame on you for wrapping yourself in your tallit of self-righteousness.

Nov. 01 2013 10:39 AM
The Truth from Becky

JAN - Stop using "bling" it's not cool anymore. Got a feeling you saw one cart full of snacks and made your assessment.

Nov. 01 2013 10:37 AM

@MC -

"Do we really still need 48 million people on food stamps after the miraculous Obama “recovery”?"

Well, Martin, the Obama Recovery did stop the 500K/month job losses that were occurring when Bush (yes, I *still* blame Bush) left office. [When ever I feel low over the state of things in DC, I remember the crowd singing 'Kiss Him Goodbye' while Bush sat there and smirked at the Inauguration!] The Obama Recovery saved the Big Three - even though one needed to find a foreign partner. The Obama Recovery stopped the fall, stonewalling by the GOP have prevented a return to full employment.

To all of our regrets - born-again deficit hawk and 'tax and spend' liberal alike -- rather than concentrate on restoring employment, despite the evidence that the fastest way to cut a deficit is to create more taxpayers! -- the GOP-controlled Congress after finding a way to spend the Treasury from +$235B in FY2001 to -$1.5T in FY2009 is now taking it out of the hide of the food-insecure. All while insisting that not one penny in additional tax revenue can be raised. How mean can we get?

You are such a troll.

Nov. 01 2013 10:28 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

@ Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan: "Here’s how the one way slide to state socialism in this country happens (on the installment plan) --- a leftist administration temporarily grabs power (via 51% elections)..."

Nothing but paranoia. We are discussing feeding poor people and governments notwithstanding, I don't know of a religion out there that does not advocate feeding the poor - except, perhaps, the religion of capitalism.

That said, you try eating on $1.50/day and let us know how that works for you.

Nov. 01 2013 10:20 AM
BK from Hoboken

The female guest had a difficult time explaining the increase. Bit from what I can tell, the government is taking away a boost to SNAP amounts given in 2008. I think the male guest meant that the boost was a stimulus, not the actual program itself. He is right- it's a boost to spending at a time when there was extra need for the program. I don't see the big deal if a boost is taken away.
This doesn't get to the biggest issues with SNAP, something that Bloomberg went after- filtering what can be bought with SNAP funds. It is ridiculous that a person who is on Medicaid (my tax dollars) and SNAP can buy junk food, sugar water, crappy expensive frozen dinners (try cooking a piece of chicken and a hunk of broccoli- it's better for you and cheaper). I see this all the time at my grocery store. Obese mom with her obese kids on medicad buying good that will give herself and kids diabetes by age 30. Great!

Nov. 01 2013 10:19 AM
Jan from Montana

I worked in a grocery store for many years and was quite disqusted by the people that would come in and fill their carts with soda and candy only. They were not buying real food to feed their families. There were also people in fur coats, decked out in bling and we would take their food stamped purchased groceries to their brand new cars. It makes me sick! Then you would see a family come in that really truely needed the food stamps. It's sad that there are so many people abusing the program that it is hurting the few that really need it.

Nov. 01 2013 10:17 AM
Jan from Montana

I worked in a grocery store for many years and was quite disqusted by the people that would come in and fill their carts with soda and candy only. They were not buying real food to feed their families. There were also people in fur coats, decked out in bling and we would take their food stamped purchased groceries to their brand new cars. It makes me sick! Then you would see a family come in that really truely needed the food stamps. It's sad that there are so many people abusing the program that it is hurting the few that really need it.

Nov. 01 2013 10:17 AM
Caesar Romaine from Manhattan

Once again... nice job presenting two sides of an issue Brian! Oh wait. The guest who was going to talk about all the abuse, the real cost to the taxpayer, the enormous overhead of the department, the waste, the rest of the farm bill and all the other arguments couldn't make it. I get it.

Nov. 01 2013 10:17 AM

Neither one of the guests has mentioned that this current SNAP reduction is the 3rd successive one to hit recipients: $11/person/month in 2012, $11/person/month in Jan 2013 & now $11/person/month.

Down $33 total as food prices rise!

Nov. 01 2013 10:15 AM
Robert from NYC

Well if the figure of 183% increase of people on SNAP given by one person on here is true it can be because salaries have frozen over the past 2 decades, food prices have increased, purchasing power of the poor and middle class have decreased while banks and big business are getting government bailouts and "assistance" while the CEOs and corporate boards of banks and businesses increase. These are the entitlements of the rich. They are entitled to take whatever they want out of the corporations and banks they run without any regulations while the government holds up their companies. And who approves these assistance programs to corporations? The lobbied congress, both sides, one side more than the other but both approve these corporate assistance programs. To put it tritely they are in the pockets of corporations.

Nov. 01 2013 10:14 AM
The Truth from Becky

And despite prevailing racial stereotypes, which first became mainstream during President Ronald Reagan's tenure, the overwhelming majority of food stamp recipients are white. And curiously, many of them are Republicans. USDA data show that in 2011, 37 percent of food stamp users were from white, non-Hispanic households.

For the people with the "let 'em eat cake" attitude, no one should go hungry in America. Using snarky key words like "overweight" and "diabetes" is pointless, those diseases are not race based.

Nov. 01 2013 10:14 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Food stamps should not be allowed to be used for products containing high sugar and carbohydrate content, nor for tobacco or alchohol products. Only healthy, nutritious foods should be covered.

Nov. 01 2013 10:13 AM
Nick from UWS

The New York of the 1970s is coming back, only this time nation-wide.

Nov. 01 2013 10:13 AM
jraskin from 10011

re: the Snap cutback. How can I help?

Nov. 01 2013 10:13 AM

Many members of my family recall the Great Depression and would tell me the horror of entire families on the verge of starvation. People fighting for and stealing food. There were no "entitlements" as some call them, then. It is disturbing that so many people want to return to a world like that.

Nov. 01 2013 10:12 AM
Nick from UWS

I interpret this is the beginning of a Greece-like "austerity program" that the US government is putting into effect under the radar because the US is flat broke.

Nov. 01 2013 10:11 AM
Jerry from nyc

when I'm in a store and folks in their 20's, 30's are paying in food stamps I wonder aren't we all entitled to free money?,
why don't we all sign up for food stamps?, who sets the poverty level? why work for your bread, just stretch out your hand, it's not that the gov, cannot afford it, today's mantra is are you collecting? if not, you are a fool

Nov. 01 2013 10:08 AM

Notice that Mr. Thompson advocates food stamps as an "economy stimulus", not a "nutrition program".

Nov. 01 2013 10:06 AM

If only poor people voted or owned a farm. If u own a corn farm you get welfare, no problem.

Nov. 01 2013 10:04 AM

Waiting to see how much the issue is explained rather than demagogued.
What were the terms of the temporary food stamp extension that is expiring?
If we are treated to the usual Lehrer script, the segment will end without mentioning them.

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/09/food-stamps-and-unemployment-insurance/?_r=0

(hint: " . . . But the food-stamp eligibility rules have changed markedly in the last several years, bringing the program closer to unemployment insurance. Food stamps effectively no longer have an asset test. States have also received waivers from work requirements during the recession (for a while, the requirements were waived nationwide by the 2009 stimulus law). . . "

Nov. 01 2013 10:02 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Corporations and politicians, incl. conservatives, secretly love food stamps.

It gives the Walmarts and McDonalds of the world, cheap, federally subsidized labor; why pay someone a living wage, when they can feed themselves with food stamps?

Politicians on both sides of the isle, love food stamps. It prevents the working-class and working poor from getting agitated, thus - keeping them in power.

Nov. 01 2013 10:00 AM
Nick from UWS

It's either food stamps, or some guy sticking a gun in your face to take your wallet so he can get something to eat.

Nov. 01 2013 08:40 AM
john from office

Martin, I am a republican and I hate what is happening to the party. It has devolved into the party of mean.

Remember Romney's comment, that "these people expect food". You cannot get meaner then that.

Nov. 01 2013 08:37 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

"Mean to the poor, kids and women. "....John from office

LOL, thanks for providing a "right on-cue" example (ba da boom) to the "they hate children" insanity. (no, I really didn't write that under John's name.)

This was to be a TEMPORARY increase ... it's just expiring.
You are all insane.

Nov. 01 2013 08:18 AM
john from office

The same republican "Leaders" who want to cut social benefits, will not let a woman have an abortion. So, you must have the kid, but don't expect help to feed or house him.

The Republicans are insuring that they will be seem as the party of mean. Mean to the poor, kids and women.

Nov. 01 2013 07:39 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Here’s how the one way slide to state socialism in this country happens (on the installment plan) --- a leftist administration temporarily grabs power (via 51% elections) ---it rapidly and drastically expands multiple social programs in a short 5 years (to 48 MILLION people in the case of food stamps!) --- and then it calls this the “NEW NORMAL”. It then enlists its obeisant left wing media arm (Brian Lehrer is always at the front of the line) to repeat this mantra as the new normal and declare any cutbacks to be an evil assault on the OBESE POOR. Oh, and let’s not forget the jobs program that the government agencies administering SNAP have become. Montgomery County, Va. (a Wash DC suburb!!) has seen its SNAP rolls increase 183%!!!

“Many anti-poverty groups have warned that cutting the program will leave millions of Americans vulnerable.” To what ... lower obesity and diabetes rates?

Do we really still need 48 million people on food stamps after the miraculous Obama “recovery”?

(http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/food-stamp-cuts-to-impact-washington-region/2013/10/31/70a5ff34-41cb-11e3-a624-41d661b0bb78_story.html?hpid=z4)

Nov. 01 2013 07:14 AM

Weren't one of the points of food stamps to get rid of more of the corn, sugar and wheat that US farmers grow? (Which is why is has always been part of the Farm Bill?) What is the position on this of US farmers?

COuld it be that they've found a new market for their biomass -- fuel?

Nov. 01 2013 06:55 AM

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