The Myth of Food Stamp Queens

I’ll start with a brief bio.  I’m newly retired.  Social Security leaves me a couple hundred dollars short each month, so I plan to apply for the SNAP program – that is, for food stamps.

The instinct of some to condemn SNAP participants as freeloaders or criminals is troubling.  I’m neither.  I have a Master’s degree in Computer Information Science.  I taught for over 20 years at various institutions of higher education.  The lack of a doctorate cost me jobs, though, and now causes me to have to rely on food stamps to supplement my income.

Despite millions of SNAP participants having stories like mine, we’re seeing a trend.  When the poor or middle class object to preferential treatment for the rich, it's called class warfare.  But when the very-well-to-do refer to food stamp recipients as welfare queens, it’s okay.

Caricatures of food stamp phonies created by conservative media are bogus.  Here’s the reality.  On average, an individual receives about $133 per month in food stamps.  That works out to about $4 per day.  As the Baltimore Sun put it, Blow it on a frappuccino, and that's one less day's food.

Any government action that discourages fraud is, of course, worthwhile.  But there's no evidence SNAP is out of control.  It helps feed more than 40 million Americans at an annual cost of $64 billion, or about $1,600 per person per year.  That’s hardly exorbitant.  Rather, it emphasizes the hardships created by the worst recession in several decades.

Michele Petrovsky, Webmaster at Tools4Change Author of, Cathedral or Bazaar?  Fix Higher Education – Teach by the Seat of Your Pants , Donkey Dharma, and Quick Guide to Linux Glen Mills, Pa.