July 27, 2007

Food Stamp Issue Is An Issue Of Leadership

A recent series in the Central Maine Morning newspapers revealed some startling statistics about the "hungry in Maine." What surprised me is not so much the essence of the article--namely that there are children supposedly going hungry, but more, there was no comment about what the statistics reveal about our grand state; you know the one that boasts, "The Way Life Should Be!"

The fact is, 160,000 of this state's population are on food stamps. Don't let the monumental significance of that number escape notice. When you consider the population of our state is around a minuscule one million people, that number represents 16% of our populace who are receiving food assistance and supposedly it isn't enough. That sheer number, even without comment, should be enough to start cleaning house in the political leadership of our state.

Well, there's two separate issues here. First, something is greatly wrong with our state at the level of state policy and leadership such that, that many people of one state need assistance. That speaks volumes about the pathetically low estate of Maine's economy--but that song always falls on deaf ears–as well as the low estate of those making policy for the rest of us.

The second problem is the notion that those who need help simply aren't being given enough. I say, you've got to be kidding? Do you realize a family of five receives $615 each month for food? Speaking from personal experience--that's right, my family was on food stamps many years ago and the amount we received for food was so generous, we honestly couldn't spend it all in a month. And from what I can tell, the allocations have only become fatter over the years.

So what's the problem? Families locked into the welfare culture are not typically mindful about good nutrition or making their food dollar stretch. The worst nutritionally and the worst value for one’s dollar are prepared foods which, because of ease, are typically what food stamp dollars are spent on.

Then there's the problem of people who before the system changed from paper food stamps, would sell their food stamps at a discount for cash so they could buy other non-qualifying items like alcohol, tobacco and whatever.

What we need is genuine leadership in this state; leadership with the wisdom of Joseph in Egypt, who can see core issues instead of superficial symptoms. Until that happens, more money remains the perennial answer, and that is an answer that solves nothing.


Blogger Mike Hein said...

Pastor Bill,

You are exactly right. I would guess that more than half of those who receive food stamps in Maine should not get them.

Read the first part of the series (http://kennebecjournal.mainetoday.com/news/local/724969421.html) where the reporter breaks down the budget of one of the "hungry" who receive food stamps welfare:

"Here’s the math at Kalloch’s house: $657 in Social Security comes in each month, plus $10 a month from the state. She pays $250 for rent, $30 for electricity, $25 for the phone, $60 every month for fuel, $50 for cigarettes and $45 for cable television. That leaves $48 a week for everything else, which is why she qualifies for $123 a month in food stamps."

$50 for cigarettes and $45 for cable tv. That's $95/month that she should not get in food stamps right there.

Why is anyone getting $123/month in food stamps when they can easily afford to pay for cigarettes and cable?

11:53 AM  
Blogger PB said...

I can't tell you how often we get people strolling in off the street at our church looking for a handout (usually gas or some such thing)and then they give us their cell phone number to contact them!

Like we call them back...

12:37 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

I find it interesting that people can say such things, without truly knowing what it's like to have to receive food stamps. Haven't you learned to NOT pass judgment on others? Yes, you have. If you haven't, then you are truly NOT Christian.

8:01 PM  
Blogger Matt Sargent said...


Did you not read PB's blog??? He WAS on food stamps at one point in his life (as was my family for part of my childhood.) I understand the the system works against those who want to be free of it one day, but more often than not it just feeds into the victim/entitlement mentality that is becoming all too common in our culture. Those who truly want to be independent of welfare can and do become self sufficient eventually.

8:31 PM  

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