by We’Ced Youth Media
Editor’s Note: In 2009, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits – commonly known as food stamps — by 13.6 percent, as a way to bring relief to struggling Americans during the economic recession. But on November 1 of this year the increase expired, returning SNAP benefits to to pre-recession levels. The program cut will affect roughly 4 million Californians, many of them young people. We’Ced members discussed the importance of food assistance programs in their own lives, and how they foresee the change affecting their families.
My mother is a single parent looking for work and has little to no family. Without SNAP or EBT we would struggle more than we already do. I would probably start trying to find other ways to help support my family, other than working the little odd jobs I do now.
I see people around me who have jobs but still don’t make enough to survive. We read an NPR report that says 3.8 million people will be left without food assistance when the SNAP cuts go through. Just think of all those people that may have to resort to drastic measures to support their families.
When I heard about SNAP being reduced, I immediately thought of my 10-year-old niece, my six-year-old nephew and three-year-old niece. My sister supports a family of five with a minimum wage job and the help of food stamps. She already is required to report her income, and on a good month when she’s earned a bit more money, her food stamps are reduced.
Thinking of all the other three-year-olds, working mothers or any of the other 3.8 million people that may be affected, is scary. I feel my sister’s family and the people I care about will be greatly affected. I’m not taking into consideration SNAP fraud right now, because I think the amount of fraud is a lot less than the families that truly need it.
I believe that the government should cut money, just not from essential life programs. People need food stamps; they need the reassurance in their lives that food will not be a problem. The Declaration of Independence states that people have the right to liberty, life and the pursuit of happiness. Needless to say, we cannot live without food. The government sends so many resources to other countries that they say cannot survive on their own, yet seeks to diminish its own people through cutting SNAP benefits. This is not only inhumane, but also sadistic. As a nation already struggling with poverty, we will have to deal with uncurbed hunger. The cuts do not benefit the people of the United States.
I agree with the SNAP cuts. In the words of Paul Ryan, “This no longer is a safety net, but rather has become a hammock for people to rely on.”
The opposing argument is that there are people in our country that rely on the SNAP program for food simply because they don’t have a job. I am not stating that we should let people starve, but rather set tighter restrictions on who can get it and make the cuts needed. To be realistic, there are people taking advantage of these programs and are living off the taxes of American people. I have personally seen people who have gone to purchase groceries with a cart so full that items on their cart seem like they can fall out at any moment, and all they have to do is slide their EBT card. They even buy meat! To make things even better, they drive off in their Cadillacs or relatively new cars.
Making matters worse, for the people that really need the assistance, the program may not be offered. When my dad had a heart attack and my mom was the only one working, we sought help and were rejected, even though we are low-income. Yet the very next day we see a man selling his SNAP card for cash, only to purchase alcohol. This needs to end!