It is time for the United States of America to revamp the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly called the food stamp program. When a family, whose only means of support is the government, is able to enjoy a more luxurious diet than the family who helps to fund the SNAP program through taxation, there is a problem. The people of America are known for their generosity. If asked, very few Americans would refuse to feed the poor, but resentment begins to corrupt one’s feelings of generosity when one is coerced to give more of what one earns to the poor than one is allowed to keep for oneself.
According to SNAP guidelines, a family of five with no income is eligible to receive $793 per month with which to purchase food. The only restrictions are that it can only be used to purchase food items and cannot be used to buy hot food. The Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 defines eligible foods as any food or food product for home consumption. This would include soft drinks, potato chips, candy, ice cream, steak, lobster, shrimp, and cakes from a bakery. Because of the wording in this act, it would take an act of Congress to place limits on the type of food which can be purchased with food stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).
A family of five with a net monthly income of $2,151 or more does not qualify for any food stamp assistance. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the average cost of housing for a three bedroom home in the state of Florida is $1,000 per month (HUD in Florida). Research by the Economic Policy Institute indicates that the monthly expenses for the same family would include: approximately $358 for transportation, $338 for healthcare, $866 for childcare, and $353 for miscellaneous expenses (Allegretto). The total of these expenses is $2,915 which does not leave any money for food. If this family did not pay for child care, its expenses would be approximately $2,049 per month, still leaving almost nothing for food. No matter how much the family cuts back its expenses, it is very unlikely that there will ever be $793 available for purchasing food. This family, which receives no government aid, ends up with a much smaller grocery budget than the family whose budget is funded by the government.
In order to correct this injustice, the United States must find a way to meet the nutritional needs of the underprivileged without raising them to a level of luxury that is unattainable to many of the tax payers who fund the food stamp program. As a country we are morally obligated to ensure that our fellow citizens do not starve. However, we are not obligated to supply them with luxury foods that we cannot afford to purchase for our own families. A very simple solution to this dilemma would be to model the SNAP program after the WIC program.
The WIC program supplies its recipients with a package of foods specifically designed to meet their nutritional needs. Rather than handing the...