The Times West Virginian

Opinion

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.

Whew.

So we took the fate of food stamps to our readers on our online poll question, which can be found each week at www.timeswv.com. 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

mpoe@timeswv.com

@MistyPoeTWV

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better

    When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
    So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.

    April 13, 2014

  • COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable

    Instant.
    That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
    But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
    Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!

    April 13, 2014

  • Decision to be an organ donor can save lives

    Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
    So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.

    April 11, 2014

  • Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community

    Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
    Marion County is full of volunteers.
    They read to our youth.
    They assist nonprofit agencies.
    They serve on boards and committees.
    And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.

    April 10, 2014

  • Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law

    West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.

    April 9, 2014

  • Strong Fairmont General Hospital badly needed to serve our region

    Mere minutes often matter when it comes to emergency health care.
    That’s why we need a strong Fairmont General Hospital.
    When patients need the services of health-care professionals, having family and friends close at hand is often essential, and their presence may even lead to a better outcome.

    April 6, 2014

  • COLUMN: Fairmont General Hospital vital part of community

    There’s nothing better than holding a newborn baby. It gives you a little feeling that not only is everything right in the world, but this perfect little human represents hope of a future where things will be better than they are today.
    I had that blessed opportunity to hold that hopeful future in my arms last week when I visited my dear friend Jen and her newborn son Tristan at Fairmont General Hospital.

    April 6, 2014

  • Putting a cost on safety issue has been culprit in 13 traffic deaths

    Would you believe that an item costing just 57 cents — less than the price of a can of pop — is being cited as the culprit in 13 traffic deaths?
    A simple 57-cent item.
    That’s how much fixing the fatal ignition switches that General Motors installed in new automobiles would have cost, and 13 lives would probably have been saved.

    April 4, 2014

  • TextLimit app one more step in cutting down distracted driving

    Every day in the United States, nine people are killed and more than 1,000 people are injured in vehicle accidents that involve distracted drivers.
    That statistic comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which goes on to say that 69 percent of U.S. drivers between the ages of 18 and 64 reported that they had talked on their cellphone while driving within the 30 days before they were surveyed.

    April 3, 2014

  • Award-winning county teachers represent hard work, sacrifice

    Each year, the Arch Coal Foundation recognizes outstanding West Virginia teachers with its annual Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award.
    And this year, two Marion County teachers were among the 12 recipients.

    April 2, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads