The Times West Virginian


July 21, 2013

Fat should be trimmed from food stamps

The history of the food stamp program dates back to 1939, on the heels of the Great Depression. America’s people were starving, going without to feed their children, humbly accepting charity where charity was to be had. It wasn’t that there wasn’t enough food to go around. The food produced by farmers was stacking up in bins and barns in surplus — the poorest just didn’t have the money to purchase it.

“We got a picture of a gorge, with farm surpluses on one cliff and under-nourished city folks with outstretched hands on the other,” said Milo Perkins, the first administrator of the program. “We set out to find a practical way to build a bridge across that chasm.”

The bridge lasted for four years, assisted 20 million people and delivered $262 million worth of food onto the tables of hungry families in more than half the country.

But the program ended because food surpluses weren’t there anymore and unemployment was dramatically decreased. It was, after all, war time. And Rosie was riveting during the day and tying a yellow bow around the tree for her husband away in Europe or the Pacific.

But following the war, the influx of returning soldiers meant fewer jobs for a flooded workforce and unemployment and poverty began to take its toll on the country again.

A promise was made by a young Democrat, right here in West Virginia. On the campaign trail, a young John F. Kennedy told West Virginians that he would enact the food stamp program again to assist the neediest families. And he did so on Feb. 2, 1961, with West Virginia residents Mr. and Mrs. Alderson Muncy of Paynesville being the first recipients on May 29, 1961.

By 1964, a bill to establish a permanent food stamp program was proposed — one of the biggest advocates of the program was then-Sen. Bob Dole who promised the “bill eliminates the greedy and feeds the needy.” Part of the agriculture bill, the food stamp program was intended to boost the agricultural sector and feed hungry families.

Since then, it has expanded and then cut, changed, modified and then expanded again, to the point where it is a $78 billion program today.

And some lawmakers say it’s swelling and needs to be cut down and managed. And for the first time in more than 40 years, the House passed the agriculture bill earlier this month with no provision for the food stamp program to gain conservative support for the legislation. They say they’ll take it up separately, but have given no date or any time frame.

It doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the program if Congress fails to act. You see, they can’t agree on fine-tuned cuts and automatic sequestration took place — giant, broad cuts to all programs creating huge problems since spring. This time, if Congress can’t agree on food stamps, the program will just continue to be funded at the current level.

No one should go to bed hungry. And though so many talk about cheating the system or living off welfare or mandatory drug testing for benefits, who can deny that there are people, a vast number of people, who need temporary help to purchase food? Of course, they disagree on the number of people who need the help or how much help they need and for how long.


So we took the fate of food stamps to our readers on our online poll question, which can be found each week at We asked our readers, “Last week, Republicans in the House passed a farm bill that did not include funding food stamps. What do you think this move could mean for the program?”

• Parties can work together to hammer out a program that makes sense — 4.24 percent.

• Congress can’t agree on which direction the sun sets. I have no concerns the food stamp program will end — 8.48 percent.

• This is a critical program that needs to be preserved, especially on the heels of a recession — 15.15 percent.

• The program is a huge financial burden and the fat ought to be trimmed down — 72.12 percent.

So it looks like a strong majority of our readers believe the program should be pared down. After all, there are an awful lot of zeroes in $78 billion.

This week, let’s talk about Rolling Stone’s decision to feature the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing on its cover, very similar to the appearance of a rock star. What do you think?

Log on. Vote. Email me or respond online.

Misty Poe

Managing Editor


Text Only
  • Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer

    July 22, 2014

  • Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life

    Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
    And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.

    July 20, 2014

  • COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?

    Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
    I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.

    July 20, 2014

  • Relish the rich bounty of state’s diverse, unique food traditions

    This week, a group of federal officials on a three-day culinary tour of the state visited the Greenbrier Valley to find out what most of us here already know — we have a rich food tradition in West Virginia.
    The group was made up of officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    July 18, 2014

  • Soup Opera in need of your support again this time of year

    It’s happening again.
    It usually always happens about this time each year. Sometimes it’s a little earlier and sometimes a little later.
    But Soup Opera executive director Shelia Tennant knows it will come — usually in July. And she’s never that surprised about it.

    July 17, 2014

  • County honors men who gave all in helping their community

    The next time you’re driving in the Rivesville area, you might notice new signs on two of the area’s bridges.
    Those signs, which bear the names of Alex Angelino and Denzil O. Lockard, were unveiled Saturday in honor of the men whose names they display, two men who died while serving their communities.
    The bridge on U.S. 19 over Paw Paw Creek was named to honor Lockard, while the bridge on U.S. 19 over Pharaoh Run Creek was named to honor Angelino. Lockard, a former Rivesville police chief, died in 1958 at the age of 48 while directing traffic. Angelino, a Rivesville firefighter, died at the age of 43 of a heart attack while fighting a fire in 1966.

    July 16, 2014

  • State must learn to keep costs down and perform more efficiently on less

    The West Virginia state government began its budget year last Tuesday with a small surplus of $40 million — less than 1 percent of its annual tax revenues — thanks only to dipping into its savings.
    Let’s not do that again.

    July 15, 2014

  • Long-range vision with transportation has been made to be thing of proud past

    Last week’s closure of Fairmont’s Fourth Street Bridge is a symbol of a problem that must be fixed.
    The United States should be proud of the vision its leaders once displayed to address the country’s transportation needs.
    Back in 1954, for example, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced his goal of an interstate highway system — something that transformed the country.

    July 13, 2014

  • COLUMN: Who would leave animal in sweltering car?

    I was standing and debating between two brands of a product in a big box store when I heard a call over the intercom:
    “Will the owner of a green Cavalier with a dog inside please report to the lawn and garden center.”
    I shook my head. I hate seeing dogs in cars waiting while their owners shop. About five minutes later, there was another announcement over the intercom.

    July 13, 2014

  • We must take all weather emergency alerts seriously

    In a weather emergency, every second counts.
    Think back to the derecho that devastated the state just two years ago. The powerful wind storm caused nearly 700,000 people in West Virginia to lose electricity, some who didn’t have power restored for weeks. A state of emergency was declared, and all but two of the state’s 55 counties sustained some damage or loss of power.

    July 10, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads