Fight Over Food Stamps

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Above, a store in New York advertises that it accepts food stamps. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Also The Reply: Opinion writers respond to reader comments and letters September 21, 2013 In some political circles, food stamp recipients are portrayed as prone to fraud, too entitled to work or living too comfortably at taxpayers’ expense. Some Times readers couldn’t disagree more. Those who sent us letters to the editor this week were almost unanimous in their opposition to the Republican-controlled House’s vote to pass a spending cut that would remove nearly 4 million Americans from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, which provides aid to families and individuals who, for a variety of reasons, have significant trouble paying for food. Many said this action amounted to an attack on those who could least afford it; others called it immoral and unprecedented. Here is a selection of those letters. — Paul Thornton, letters editor Altadena resident J.H. Benson questions the GOP ‘s morality: “House Republicans are badly in need of a moral compass. Their hypocrisy is only surpassed by their cruelty. “The GOP says that the 4 million Americans who will be kicked off SNAP are capable of helping themselves. I hope that our very capable farmers aren’t being subsidized while this assistance to the poor is deemed too expensive.” Long Beach resident Matthew Black points out more pressing spending concerns: “The GOP has truly hit a new low.

Food crazes driven by scarcity, social media

There were baked brie and spinach dip in the ’80s, Jell-O molds in the ’50s and ’60s. But none of that food existed as a self-conscious part of the culture, as something that people took notice of and discussed. Today, food is part of the culture the way movies or books are. “Food has become entertainment,” says Martin. “It used to be that people would passively accept things and buy it if it tasted good. But you walk around New York City and you hear people talking about food the way they would talk about news events or movies or art. It’s a big part of the culture now. If you came out with a food item that didn’t have a backstory, it’s probably not going to catch on.” Part of the difference between now and 1960? Social media. “Word travels and trends travel instantaneously now,” says Russ Parsons, food editor at the Los Angeles Times. “You get listed on a half dozen good Twitter feeds and all of a sudden, there’s 100,000 people who’ve heard about it. Things just go like wildfire these days.” Parsons should know. Los Angeles may have created the whole trend of social media-tracked food trucks, starting with the Kogi truck, a peripatetic Korean taco vendor that would show up at a different venue each day, tweeting his whereabouts to the uber hip.

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