Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cry me a river

I really shouldn't read the newspaper. It ticks me off and sometimes even makes me cry. Of course, I have no choice since I work for a newspaper. The latest outrage? A story about food stamps buying less food because of higher prices. In the story, one woman couldn't seem to feed her family on $349 per month in food stamps. Ironically, this is close to what I spend in a month at the grocery store. Avert your eyes if you'd rather keep your positive impressions of me intact. You've been warned.

Pardon me if I don't feel too sorry for some of these folks. As an official in the story noted, food stamps were meant to supplement, not replace, a family's food budget. Whenever a story like this appears, I wish, just once, a journalist would have the balls to ask whether the person had a cell phone, cable television, $100 shoes and where they get their nails and hair done. For that matter, I think eligibility for food stamps should hinge on a careful examination of a person's budget. Why should my tax dollars pay your grocery bill if you're not even willing to make some sacrifices to feed your own offspring? Not everything is a necessity, no matter what you've heard on television. And, frankly, I think some Americans could stand to skip a meal or two. Of course, I'm not talking about children. But even there, I think some of the "fat" in food budgets is contributing to obesity in children. The items that could reasonably be cut from a family's food budget are probably foods that they shouldn't be eating in the first place ... sugary cereals, snack foods, sodas, all manner of processed food. Seriously, just shop the perimeter of the grocery store, people. That's all the food you really need anyway ... produce, bakery, dairy, meat, eggs, beans.

One woman in the story said she had been turning cans of ``whatever we got in the cabinet'' into breakfast, lunch and dinner for her children, who finished off the last of the milk and cereal long ago. Really? Sounds like what I do (and we're really not hurting). My point here is that if my family was EVER in danger in starving, I would first trim my own budget before sucking off the taxpayers' teat. I know that every situation is different and more complex than I can even fathom. But how is that I can feed my family for about $80 a week and others can't even make $349 in food stamps work?

And, please, try to keep your knees intact ... I'm not saying food stamps should not exist or that everyone is abusing them. Spare me. I've known people who have gone on food stamps and, for them, it is a temporary measure and a supplement to their food budget. My point here is that some people seem to have abdicated responsibility for their lives to the point where they really believe that food and health care and utilities and rent and probably even gasoline are things they just shouldn't have to pay for. Of course, cell phones, cable television, designer clothes and cars are absolute essentials.

1 comment:

maryellenlewis said...

I couldn't have said it better myself! I spend $60-$100 a week on food (sometimes more) but we eat dried beans, organic produce, some milk/dairy products. We don't buy boxes of cookies or cereal, very little meat, and very little processed food. I cook the occasional box of rice a roni, but pulease people! PB&Js are not a bad lunch! Ok I need to stop ranting. Please rant some more. You have my permission ;)