With the smell of money and mid-term elections in the air, cuts in food stamp programs and the problems that the few so-called freeloaders cause is sure to be a recurring issue. But one section of Americans that seem to always be put in the background regarding this issue are the members of the US Armed Forces that serve their country, and their families. According to militarytimes.com, “In fiscal 2013, commissary patrons redeemed $103.6 million worth of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, formerly known as food stamps.”
While this number is up 5 % over fiscal 2012, it will only continue to rise with our veterans coming home from the long drawn out Iraq war and our presence in Afghanistan. Also, with many of these veterans returning home with a variety of injuries that may prevent them from finding and sustaining gainful employment, many of these benefits will literally be life savers for these brave men and women.
With the food stamp program(SNAP) supplying 14% of American families with food aid(nearly 1 in 6), military families utilized roughly $100 million in food aid on military bases alone in 2013. This does not include off base purchases. Also, according to SNAP and Census data, nearly 60% or SNAP recipients are working and include the elderly and children.
Now no one likes the thought of an able bodied individual abusing a system designed to help those that truly need it, especially when it comes from our hard earned tax dollars, but massive cuts in these programs will not solve the problem. In fact, it will hurt those that need them most.
While the powers that be argue that they will not pay for freeloaders to abuse such programs and seek to massively cut funding, perhaps they should look at how changes in the workings of said programs could be improved.
You see, lawmakers put forth the budget for these programs. Federal agencies oversee distribution of these funds to the respective states. The states distribute the funds and rules of eligibility to local county agencies. And lastly, these local agencies oversee the eligibility and distribution of said benefits to individuals.
Now when you look at the numbers in regards to percentage of fraud(which stands at around 2%), if this system was to only cater to veterans, working individuals, children, the elderly, and the disabled, it begs the question; How would massive cuts to the SNAP program solve what seems to be a fear driven, mostly made up crisis?
If all of the politicians vying for our votes want to balance the budget and get rid of unnecessary wasteful spending, how about starting with corporate welfare and the disgraceful waste produced by our own Congress. Massive cuts to smaller programs such as SNAP will not solve the immediate financial problems that this country faces. It will only serve to make life harder on the same Americans that they will promise to help in return for their vote.