The Texas Food Bank Network Food Stamp Challenge – Some Preliminary Observations
October 25, 2010 § Leave a comment
Yesterday, I gave a presentation on hunger and food insecurity in central Texas to a group of church members. Despite the gloomy topics we discussed, I really enjoyed myself because the presentation quickly became a conversation. There were differences of opinion about the underlying causes of food insecurity. People expressed varying points of view related to the dispensation of federal benefits to people at risk of hunger. What struck me the most was a brief discussion about who deserves SNAP benefits versus who cares if someone deserves them if they’re hungry.
Related to the question of who deserves public benefits was a statement about the prevalence of fraud and waste. This is a legitimate question and should be asked of any program or service. We should examine fraud and waste within entire sectors of our economy! Should isolated incidences of SNAP fraud cast doubt on the intentions of millions of people who depend on these benefits? I say, no.
Later in the day, my family went grocery shopping using the Food Stamp Challenge budget criteria (more about this experience tomorrow). There were seemingly hundreds of people in the grocery store, many peering at their grocery lists just like me. I had no idea who they were; where they live; why and how they were prioritizing; and how they were paying for their purchases.
My son was with me, and as I looked at him, I pondered the lengths to which I would go to make sure he gets the food he needs. He’s four and his development depends on good nutrition. I will do anything for him.
I believe this, too: As a decent, caring country, we should go to any length to ensure members of our society at risk of hunger have a safety net. It isn’t a question of being deserving. It’s our privilege to uphold human dignity.
Correction 10/26: Infographic updated.