A number of months ago it was disclosed that tens of thousands of seniors, disabled individuals, minor children and other low income New Jersey families again faced possible cuts in their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (previously known as food stamps). Yesterday, June 26, the New Jersey Legislature passed legislation to avoid the cuts by tailoring New Jersey policy to requirements spelled out in the federal Farm Bill passed by Congress and signed by the President earlier this year.
The legislation, A2956, sometimes referred to as the “Heat and Eat bill” passed both the Assembly and State Senate overwhelmingly. A reprint of the bill is available at http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2014/Bills/A3000/2956_R2.PDF. An independent evaluation of the legislation is also available online by the Office of Legislative Services. The bill now awaits action by Governor Christie.
Yesterday morning in a CNN interview Mitt Romney stated, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” To quote him precisely, the CNN story reads in part: “I’m not concerned about the very poor,” he said. “We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich; they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90%, 95% of Americans right now who are struggling, and I’ll continue to take that message across the nation.”
His comments need a little analysis. It annoys me enough that I am going to add my two cents not that I very often discuss politics per se on this blog. When a presidential candidate talks about a group – the very poor – and says what he says, people should speak up.
In the same interview, if not to add insult to injury, candidate Romney added that we have a “very ample safety net”, food stamps, and housing vouchers. Later, on his campaign plane while speaking – some call it damage control – to reporters he said that “we can talk about whether it (the safety net) needs to be strengthened or if there are holes in it.”
Someone needs to tell this candidate a few things. 1) The safety net needs mending. 2) The food stamp program is now known as SNAP – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. 3) Yes, there are housing vouchers but there aren’t enough even to house all our homeless veterans. Mr. Romney, ask a family that has been on a waiting list with their local Housing Authority or Section 8 agency about how long it takes to get a housing voucher.
Last September the Census Bureau released a poverty report in which they reported 46 million people living in poverty in 2010. The number was the largest in the 52 year history of the poverty surveys.
We need candidates who will face the fact that we have income inequality in American. It is not a question if we need to fix the safety net. It’s a question of how we can rebuild and make everyone stronger. We can no longer tolerate a 281% increase in income among the top 1% while the bottom fifth’s income rises only 16% in the last 30 plus years. (Source: Congressional Budget Office. See www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=12485 for additional proof.
Please wake up Mr. Romney.
Today I received a weekly news digest (Issue #3 – January 17, 2012) from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). One of their articles – which I want to pass on – is titled “USDA Farmers’ Market Directory Now Offers SNAP/Food Stamp Search”.
It reads as follows: “SNAP/Food Stamp recipients can now use USDA’s National Farmers’ Market Directory to search for nearby farmers’ markets accepting the benefits. WIC and Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program participants can also find markets accepting their benefits. The upgrades are part of “serious enhancements to the data based on feedback from you – consumers, business people, producers, to name a few.” USDA hopes this will encourage more people to visit farmers’ markets “and stimulate communities through new business and healthier lifestyles.”
The article originally appeared in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Blog on December 28 under the title of “7,175 Markets and Counting: Farmers Markets At Your Fingertips”.
You can check out the Farmers Markets Search database at http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/. Enjoy and good luck finding farmer fresh produce.