Replacing Food Stamps With Cash Is A Terrible Idea

Another criticism of the program is that food stamps lead to more spending on food than otherwise would be the case. They can’t be used to purchase other products, so the incentive is to buy until the benefits are exhausted. By some estimates, food stamps lead to over-purchases of food equal to about 15 percent of total benefits. If so, the $75 billion annual food-stamp program generates more than $11 billion in extra food spending. This was a huge reason legislators from farm states — most of them Republicans — were once such ardent proponents of food stamps: It was a hefty goodie for their agriculture constituents on top of the roughly $25 billion in explicit annual government handouts for agriculture. If food stamps were converted to a cash benefit it’s likely that the overspending — and thus a big piece of ag-industry pork — would diminish or disappear. What’s more, Yglesias says, the voucher system we now have breeds fraud and corruption, a standard plaint of Republicans. (In an amusing aside, he describes how some years ago he used to buy cigarettes — which can’t be purchased with the vouchers — for a neighbor who was on food stamps, who in turn bought him boxes of Diet Coke. Food-stamp fraud alert.) Hold on a minute. Studies suggest that fraud is modest, equal to about 1 percent of the program’s spending. That’s still a lot of money, but as a percentage of the total it’s minor. Furthermore, fraud has gotten harder ever since benefits have been issued on electronic-benefit transfer cards, which operate like debit cards at the grocery store. What’s more, drawbacks to doling out cash are real and fly in the face of the moral component of receiving a government benefit. Aid comes with strings attached as part of the goal of inducing behavior that’s deemed socially beneficial. That’s why food stamps can’t be used to buy tobacco or alcohol.

Who is looking out for your food safety?

Once at the church, Nwaneri said he would make sure that the meat and vegetables were distributed quickly after all, such precious food shouldnt go to waste. Video Bishop Godfrey Nwaneri of Divine Grace Mission discusses what it’s like to work closely with a food bank to feed those in need. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post) – Gerri Magruder, executive director of Helping Hands Ministry at the First Baptist Church of Capitol Heights, is pictured at the Capitol Area Food Bank. We try to shop very close to the distribution day so the perishables would not spoil, said Nwaneri, who hands out food on the first Saturday of every month. The Maryland pastor is part of a network of more than 500partner agencies that distribute 45 million pounds of food to more than 500,000 people across the Washington area each year. And although the distribution includes bread, cereal and canned goods, there is increasing focus among church food banks to supply fresh vegetables and meat for the good health of those in need. Fresh food thats the key to lowering high blood pressure and diabetes, said Jeri Bailey, director of the food pantry at the Dupont Park Seventh-Day Adventist Church, who was at the food bank the same day as Nwaneri. We prepare bags for 130families a week that includes a meat, fresh greens, canned goods and other items, Bailey said. But the distribution of fresh food means extra attention must be paid to ensuring that the donated perishables dont spoil. Nearly 36 million tons of food were wasted nationally in 2011, said Nancy Roman, president of the Capital Area Food Bank. Roman recently helped organize a summit in Alexandria to address how local churches and organizations can reduce food spoilage. Participants included Ben Simon, founder of the Food Recovery Network at the University of Maryland; Elise H. Golan, director for sustainable development at the Department of Agriculture; Tom ODonnell, an environmental scientist for the Environmental Protection Agency; and Meghan Stasz, director of sustainability for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents such major brands as Kraft, General Mills and Nestle.

Ramen noodles again? For millions on U.S. food stamps, ‘This is not the way I envisioned my life’

An example of lunch items bought with Silva's food stamps.

– Inspections: FSIS inspectors inspect animal carcasses before and after slaughter to ensure that no diseases are present, take samples for inspection, monitor the safety of animal feed and medications and enforce regulations such as temperature control, trimming and sanitation procedures. At egg production facilities, FSIS agents inspect all egg products, with and without added ingredients, including whole eggs, whites, yolks, and various blends – with or without non-egg ingredients – that are processed and pasteurized. FDA, rather than FSIS is responsible for the inspection of egg substitutes, imitation eggs, and similar products. – Recalls: When FSIS determines that a food item poses a risk to the public, the agency forms a committee to determine if a recall is needed, and collaborates with producers to make sure that the product is contained, and that the public has received adequate warning via the media and the FSIS website. If a risk is posed, but it is determined that a recall is not needed, FSIS will issue a public health alert. – Labeling: FSIS develops and provides labeling guidance, policies and inspection methods in order to protect consumers from misbranded and economically adulterated meat, poultry, and egg products. This is to ensure that all labels contain accurate, truthful information. USDA Stands for: United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Role: The USDA has primary responsibility for the safety of meat, poultry and certain egg products. The agency’s authority is regulated by: the Federal Meat Inspection Act , the Poultry Products Inspection Act , the Egg Products Inspection Act and the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act . The agency is also responsible for inspecting all meat, poultry and egg products sold in interstate commerce, and re-inspecting imported meat, poultry and egg products to makes sure they meet United States safety standards. The USDA inspects eggs in processing plants before and after they are broken for further processing. FSIS falls under the governance of the USDA. The USDA is the leader in setting the federal policies that determine national standards for food safety, and has also maintained the Meat and Poultry Hotline (888-674-6854) since 1985. The agency introduced AskKaren.gov in 2004, and mobile Ask Karen on 2011 and claims the combined sites now have a nearly 99 percent self-service rate, meaning that nearly all users are able to find the answers to their questions almost immediately. NOAA and NMFS Stands for: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and National Marine Fisheries Service Food Safety Role: The FDA is the primary agency responsible for ensuring the safety, wholesomeness, and proper labeling of domestic and imported seafood products.

Food banks that churches count on are challenged by rising demand, spoilage issues

Nearly 48 million Americans, or about 1 in 7 of us, collect SNAP assistance, an increase of about 1 million from June 2012 to June 2013. Shortly after that jump, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to slash $40 billion in food stamps over 10 years, a cut 10 times larger than what the Senate proposed. Meanwhile, enrollment doubled and costs ($78 billion in 2012) tripled over the last decade, Reuters says . Americans on SNAP receive, on average, $1.47 per meal. ( Access to SNAPs data and website is shuttered during the government shutdown, but because it has dedicated funding, its payments like some Social Security and Medicaid are unaffected. Some state-run sites still operate.) View gallery . Warrick’s 2-year-old daughter, Aleyah. SNAPs critics say that when families like the Warricks buy groceries, that assistance doesnt stimulate the economy because, as the conservative Heritage Foundation argues , $100 of tax-subsidized food stamps pulls money from a private sector that would have better spent those hundred bucks. Other concerns are myriad: Food stamps should be stop-gap assistance, not long-term entitlements. The country is already $17 trillion in debt, so why spend more ? And then theres fraud, notably millionaires on the dole . Supporters rebuttals include: Food purchases provide direct kicks to the economy because the poor spend and dont save. There are even more hungry Americans than the 1 in 7 on SNAP.

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