Cutting Food Stamps = Hungrier US?

So it’s very rare that I’ll get political. I admittedly do not watch a lot of news, and or pay attention to a lot of political issues- outside of nutrition/health related things- which I do try to stay up on.

At election time, I usually do my own research and make my own choice on who to vote for. I typically identify myself more as a Libertarian because I like the mentality behind sticking it to “the man”, and doing what I want/the government can’t tell me what to do. 1) I know this is unrealistic 2)I’m sassy- whatever. Don’t hate.

I was also raised, and I’m a firm believer in not discussing politics or money in public or in the presence of strangers- or even close friends. Sorry. Someone will always walk away a little annoyed.

So I am going to try to write this without pissing anyone off. And in terms of my acutal political opinions- the only one I will share as of right now: This country has a massive national debt. That is not something I am comfortable with, and I think it should be rectified.

With that being said- I was reading my daily email blast from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and came across not one but two articles I felt pertinent to share.

1) Hard Choice: Bill seeking cuts in food stamp program, may exacerbate, hunger in poor, minorities.

I encourage you to read the article and evaluate your thoughts on it. If you do not want to I shall summarize it to the best of my ability.

One of the proposed ways to save money, and help cut spending is to cut the funding to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) AKA food stamps (the extent of the cut is unknown per the article).

It is my understanding that there are two separate proposals in regard to the severity of the cuts- the House bill, that was recently passed and now a similar bill by the senate is being discussed.

Additionally by voice vote the Senate adopted a separate ammendment that would prevent convicted murderers, rapists, & pedophiles from receiving food stamps (ummmm kind of hope they would never need them- as they are locked away forever….eeek!)

It was also said that due to incarceration patterns the ammendment would have “a skewed racial impact”, in reality it would also severely hit large urban areas (i.e. Chicago). And likely the elderly population (the article specifies elderly African Americans- I think it would hit any member of the elderly population using food stamps).

This is followed by some intelligent sounding hypotheses and analyses on how if the House version was passed there would be ~$20 billion in cuts made over the next few decades, and result in ~ 2 million people being kicked off SNAP.

Additionally people with very low incomes but have cars would be penalized, and removed from the program. This would impact children getting school lunches (~200,000 + children would lose their free lunches).

The thought of this genuinely makes me scared . I’m sorry it does. This is what I know for certain:

1) Our country needs to cut spending (maybe we could cut the FLOTUS’ budget on her designer wear…… yeah boo we know how much Louboutins cost)

2) There will ALWAYS be people who cheat the system and abuse it- and use the vouchers to buy non-nutritious foods (which shouldn’t even be an option)…

3) There will ALWAYS be good people who really need the help, and follow the rules, and don’t cheat

4) There is already food insecurity in this country. I see it in my patients, I see it, and I work with it, and it is scary. We are one of (if not the) advanced country in the world. This is America. But our population is underfed. And the other half is overfed. #winning.

5) I see this (I guess I don’t know this for certain) having a very nasty trickle down effect on health care. I think this will stratify health- I think there will be an increase in the malnourished and we will keep seeing disease statistics rise, as families we no longer have food stamps need to stretch their money farther and start to rely on heavily processed foods and fast foods.

Let me define food insecurity to you: it is the opposite of food security which is defined as- “food security exists when: “all people, at all times have access to SUFFICIENT, SAFE, AND NUTRITIOUS FOOD to maintain a healthy & active life”.

We do a cut like this, and it damns even the people who use it the right away. Please believe me- I am all for finding ways to kick people off of it who abuse it, but I’m not down for causing hunger in this country.

I said I read two articles. The second article was about how the FAO “Praises 38 countries for halving hunger”.

The bottom line- countries like Chile, Bangledesh, Niger, Algeria, etc are reducing the amount of hunger in their countries- and America is heading into an opposite direction.

Just think about this. You don’t need to do anything about it. Think about those times you go to the store and get groceries. It’s part of your routine- you just do it. Some people have budgets- some don’t.

Now imagine not knowing when you will get groceries. It’s different to think about what you will have for dinner versus IF you can have dinner.

Sorry to get all Bamboo-Love-Flower child on you guys- but I feel like this is important. Food and access to food matter.

What do you think of this?

Do you think there are other ways of cutting spending?

Do you think this is the way to go?

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