Letters to the Editor

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FOOD STAMPS: Limits make poor feel poorer

Letter by Pat L. Downing, Tacoma on June 25, 2012 at 9:35 am with 56 Comments »
June 25, 2012 11:21 am

As a child I heard my parents talk about how invasive it was that people on welfare in large city tenements had regular visits from their case workers. The tenants would hide their radios, children’s toys and anything else that might suggest they were not spending the welfare money on necessities.

I heard that case workers would go so far as to check to see if their were any clothing or shoes that might indicate a man lived there and should be contributing to the income.

The article about restrictions on food stamps (TNT, 6-24) made me think of those conversations. It must be hard enough to explain to children why they can’t have the latest toys or electronics, but to now explain they can no longer have a bottle of soda or any candy because they are on welfare will do nothing more than make them feel poorer.

How different is it from the welfare worker who had the right to examine closets and look to see if a man’s shoes are under the bed and telling people using food stamps what they can eat? As it is, many sell a portion of their stamps to buy toilet paper, laundry detergent, feminine hygiene products and other necessities.

It’s wrong according to the laws, but some have no choice. Maybe that’s the part of the law that needs to be changed, not what food items they can have.

Leave a comment Comments → 56
  1. alindasue says:

    I’d like to see food stamps (SNAP benefits) replaced with more of a voucher system similar to the one WIC uses where the recipient is given different choices within certain food categories and maybe some basic non-food necessities like feminine products, soaps, and toilet paper.

    “SNAP” stands for “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program”. SNAP is not intended to keep kids from feeling poor. It is intended to allow families to eat more nutritiously than they normally would be able to with their limited incomes. There is nothing nutritional about candy bars and soda.

  2. cclngthr says:

    I think it is the states obligation to see that food stamps are used for healthy foods, instead of junk food and other things that should be banned.

    I think food stamps should be used like the WIC program, where certain foods are the only products that can be purchased with food stamps.

    Fresh vegetables/fruit, milk, eggs, fresh meat (beef, poultry, fish), fresh pasta, rice, and natural foods should be the only things that can be bought with food stamps. Products such as sugary cereals, soda, candy and foods deemed unhealthy (due to sugar, fat content) should be automatically be banned.

    I also feel it is the obligation of the state to also view how cash benefits are used. Cash benefits are to be only used for the bare necessities a family needs, rent, certain clothing, and necessary items that family needs.

    I also feel it is the right of the state to make unannounced visits to homes of recipients to inspect what is going on in that household and question that household on who/what is in that household, and require proof of purchase/resident by looking into the ID’s and receipts.

  3. cclngthr says:


    I just said the exact same thing.

    I would also want the cash benefit program to have a similar thing in place.

  4. Theefrinker says:

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with heavily restricting what can be purchased with food stamps. Educationally speaking, it’s good for a child to go without things his friends might have; he’ll have a higher chance of growing up with a better work ethic.

  5. cclngthr says:

    My parents used that tactic with us; they severely limited what we kids could have/do because they felt we did not need them.

    Up until I was 16, we never had a color TV. It was a black and white second hand TV. TV’s in the bedroom were outlawed. Video games were also outlawed (I remember buying one with my own money, and my mother tossed it in the trash because she believed it should never be used).

    We had orange juice and water to drink. No pop. Candy was a once in a blue moon thing.

  6. alindasue says:

    cclngthr said, “Video games were also outlawed (I remember buying one with my own money, and my mother tossed it in the trash because she believed it should never be used).”

    This is where I agree more with TheeFrinker. Video games aren’t outlawed in my house, but if my kids want extra stuff like that they have to earn the money to buy it themselves. It help teach them the value of the dollar and of working towards a goal.

  7. cclngthr says:

    In my house, the adults were the boss and dictated what we kids could have/do. Something I think there should be more of. My mom hated video games, and firmly believed kids should not be allowed to sit in front of the TV all day, every day. They required us to go outside and figure out how to play under their close supervision.

    With the issue of kids earning money, as I pointed out earlier, a caseworker has the authority to question the family where they get the money, and why they have stuff like video games in the house. That worker may decide that the money used to buy the video game can be used to provide for the family. Instead of buying video games, the kid can buy their own clothes and necessities. That was an order of my parents when I earned money. They felt buying a video game system is foolish and more important items can be bought with that money.

  8. So is it govt’s role to make them feel rich? This is a safety net, not about emotions.

    With the news today of the farm bill (that covers foo stamps) costing the govt 3/4 of a trillion over a decade, the last thing we should be worried about is feeling.

  9. When I was growing up we never had soda and rarely candy or chips – and my dad was a professor at the University – but he was raising 5 kids on one salary (Mom stayed home or volunteered).

    Yep, we were the last house in the neighborhood that had color tv. I had to wear my big brothers’ hand me downs.

    I didn’t suffer one bit.

  10. cclngthr says:


    Yep. We also had no color TV until my uncle gave us his old TV (that was color) when I was in high school. Our TV’s were old, second hand units that had tubes and occasionally went out. Soda was basically foreign to us because we were not allowed such luxury.

    My sister, who was an adult when I was a kid had to have the latest thing, including color TV’s. All of her kids were spoiled brats and still are.

  11. So are you both saying the letter writer is incorrect for stating items like soda/candy need to be taxpayer funded? As far as I am concerned, no item remotely luxury or not required for survival should be covered by taxpayer funds in welfare situations. That money comes from some hard working citizen.

  12. truthbusterguy says:

    Want a solution? Require work for food stamps and you will see 75% drop off the rolls overnight.

  13. offer jobs to every able bodied person… then you can require a job for food stamps.

    and if you wanna limit what can be bought with food stamps? start requiring that corner stores carry all of those items. not everyone can get to the supermarket. not everyone is well enough to leave the house, sometimes the kids have to do the shopping and cant drive.

    i’m not really opposed to making food stamps more like wic, but its not as simple as “i dont think poor kids really need snacks to live”…

  14. by the way, lots of people are disabled. some people LIVE off of SSI and food stamps. its not about luxury bags of cheetos, it’s about surviving however you can, and sometimes those high-calorie low-nutritional-value junk-foods will fill a kid up more than a banana can.

  15. How did people survive before the handouts? The kids? 1 in 7 now get part of the $80bil/year in food giveaways.

  16. cclngthr says:


    I have a disability and can find fresh foods cheaply.

    The problem is people simply don’t know how to COOK. Cooking means using making something with real food, and not shoving something in a microwave.

    While at PLU, I took a course in nutrition and drugs. One of the semester long assignments we had to do was document EVERYTHING we ate in detail, including its nutritional value. For 2 weeks, we documented everything we ate, and after that 2 week period, the professor required us to use his diet, which was a 2000 calorie diet which 50% of the foods must be complex carbohydrates, fiber and vitamins/minerals. Most of the foods accepted were fresh vegetables, fruits, meat, poultry, fish, pasta, brown rice, brown breads, and items that had a high nutritional value according to the recommended FDA food groups. We then documented our weight, food intake, and documented our energy level and how we felt.

    I would forbid corner stores from accepting SNAP benefits because they sell items at a higher cost than real grocery stores.

  17. Part of the problem is that the food stamp benefits may not always be enough to afford healthy foods. Has anyone noticed that junk foods are cheaper than fresh veggies and fruit? If all you have is $50 a week for a family of three, you’ll want to make it stretch. I agree with the poster, it should be run like WIC where they are allowed an allotted amount of dairy, meats, grains, veggies and fruit.

  18. And just where is the funding going to come from to employ more government workers to administer this project?

  19. No frida, I agree with ccl. If you actually cook from scratch, it is cheaper and healthier. Making pasta or pizza is incredibly inexpensive, if you make everything yourself from scratch. Onions, green peppers, and any veggie in season is cheap. Flour is cheap. Eggs are reasonable.

    It is the laziness that makes good eating expensive. The ‘healthy’ excuse is a slippery slope. It is why the govt gives people cell phones and many in the ghetto have a nicer tv, car, and clothes than those in the middle class.

    Enough excuses. Enough freebies.

  20. Pat L. Downing, Tacoma. Hmm how bout not spending your food stamps on privileged items soda, candy,flavor for coffee, Frito . Then you can buy TP, tampons & laundry detergent. Want a special snack buy Granola bars… From I was told by the state food stamps are for buying dairy, meats, grains, veggies and fruit.

  21. CT7 – I buy healthy foods and cook from scratch. It is definitely not cheaper.

  22. CT7 and ccth – Pizza (even made from scratch) isn’t the healthiest food.

    Perhaps I am eating more healthily than you are suggesting.Flour and eggs are cheap but they are not a substantial portion of a healthy diet. Brown rice is more expensive than white rice. Organic is much more expensive.

  23. tree_guy says:

    I would consider restricting the use of food stamps to approved grocery stores. The corner store in my neighborhood sells nothing but trash food and the thought that our tax dollars are going to support people’s junk food habits there is repulsive.

    And since we are going to have to consider poor people’s “feelings” maybe it’s time to consider taxpayers feelings too!

  24. CT7- I do cook from scratch. I’ve got news for you, pizza is NOT healthy. Pasta is NOT healthy. Produce pound for pound is more expensive than starchy fatty FLOUR food like Pizza. Your argument only proves that you are a garbage gut. You are just like the food stamp recipients you condemn. Me? I grow most my own food as well, make my own breads, yogurt, cottage cheese, canning, preserves, and have my own chickens. My family eats incredibly healthy but I also realize not everyone has this luxury of growing and harvesting their own food. YOU sound lazy to me by making your first suggestion of healthy foods to be pizza?? Lay off the dough! I can feed my family cheaply, but I work extremely hard to do so.

  25. That being said – dried beans and WHITE rice in bulk can be purchased fairly cheaply

    Get rid of the corn subsidies so that high fructose corn syrup wouldn’t be so cheap and in almost everything in a box or a can.

    And no CT7 – I don’t think soda, candy and other snack foods should be purchased with food stamps.

    The comments about working for food stamps are absurd. Clinton already turned welfare into workfare.

  26. I would consider restricting the use of food stamps to approved grocery stores.

    So poor people would have to have the extra time and expense to travel out of their neighborhood to the “good” store?

  27. TOOCAN? Tampons and toilet paper are not a food group. Therefore, they are not covered by the food stamp program. Tree-guy? Your “taxpayer feelings” are a little misplaced. Where’s your “taxpayer feelings” regarding the criminals who actually crashed the economy? You find it easier to blame hungry children for your “taxpayer feelings’?

  28. Beerboy, you bring up a crucial point. The location of grocery stores. I don’t see very many in the poorer neighborhoods. You can buy almost 5 lbs of dried beans for the cost of the gas it takes or the bus fare to get there.

  29. tree_guy says:

    Where’s your “taxpayer feelings” regarding the criminals who actually crashed the economy?

    Read more here: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/letters/2012/06/25/proposed-food-stamp-limits/#comments#storylink=cpy

    Well that’s off topic, but for the record my opinion is that those people should have faced prison sentences. Obama ran on a platform of cleaning up the Wall Street mess and in 3 1/2 years he hasn’t done anything. A big disappointment for those who trusted in Obama’s promises.

  30. tree_guy says:

    I don’t agree with beerboy too often. But his comments of 6:29 this morning are mostly correct and mirror my own feelings.

  31. tree_guy says:

    You find it easier to blame hungry children for your “taxpayer feelings’? frida

    Read more here: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/letters/2012/06/25/proposed-food-stamp-limits/#comments#storylink=cpy

    I never even mentioned children in my posting. This is just another example of a “Frida straw man argument.” It’s a daily ritual here on the tribnet.

  32. tree_guy says:

    Pat Downing’s letter to the editor contains an illogical argument. Here is his argument:

    When he was a child he remembers welfare workers asking unnecessarily invasive questions.

    Now he has learned that welfare workers are asking questions.

    Therefore, since welfare workers are asking questions then those questions must be unnecessarily invasive.

  33. “and many in the ghetto have a nicer tv, car, and clothes than those in the middle class.”- ct7

    -The old welfare Cadillac rant. How dare those ghetto-ins assume to have anything nice. They should be made to sell all of their worldly goods and wear sackcloth before being allowed food stamps.-

    The fact is that many people who now use food stamps are those of us who have recently fallen on hard times. They had meaningful jobs and paid their taxes along the way. Their nice things were purchased prier to needing assistance and should not need to be sold off to qualify for help. They need not have to look and act the part just to please you.

    Your statement is meant to instill prejudice. Pathetic!

  34. Bandito – and some who use food stamps still have jobs – they just don’t make enough to make ends meet.

  35. Ortingmom says:

    I thought the objective is to feed the poor not worry about their feelings.

  36. cclngthr says:

    Pasta has more complex carbohydrates than you think. Specific examples include millet, oats, wheat germ, barley, wild rice, brown rice, buckwheat, oat bran, cornmeal and amaranth. Any product that is made from these grains is also complex as well. Whole grain bread, bagels, buns and rolls are examples of these. Also pasta, macaroni and breakfast cereals that are made from whole grains are complex carbohydrates.

    White breads, white rice turns into pure sugar. I was talking to a person born in Asia who has diabetes and he told me a lot of people from Asia develop diabetes as adults because of the high intake of white rice they consume (sometimes 3 times a day). Dr. Nessett, the professor of the nutrition and drug course I took also said the same thing.

    The MAJORITY of the foods a person should consume should be complex carbohydrates. A person should only consume low doses of protein and calcium because high doses of both causes kidney stones because excess protein and calcium are dumped by the kidneys.

    Processed foods should be heavily restricted.

  37. SandHills says:

    The letter writers attitude has contributed to the vast amount of fraud, wasted, and abuse, in all “entittlement” programs.

    What? No oversight at all? As the economy does not seem to be making a good recovery from it’s sick bed, more and more of the middle class will start to feel the pinch even more. It’a enough to see food stamps being misused now, but when those still trying to make ends meet by buying bologne, it’s going to get real testy for food stamp recipients living off T-bones and prime rib. And if the system ahs to get stretched even furhter to accomodate those slipping from the middle class, then more oversight for fraud, waste, and abuse, will have to get more “invasive”, not less as the letter writer advocates.

  38. If you are taking some other citizen’s hard earned money, it should only be for survival after avenue has been explored. That means downsizing, selling cars, TVs, iPhone, etc.

    Then it should only be basic requirements to sustain life.

  39. itwasntmethistime says:

    beerBoy and Frida, we only eat healthy foods and we find it to be much cheaper.

    To whoever wrote that Cheetos will fill up a kid more than a banana will, it’s not true. While the kid may not be as satisfied for the first few minutes, once his blood sugar settles he will feel satisfied for longer with the banana. So your $0.99 bag of Cheetos with 500 calories won’t stay with you as long as your $0.30 banana with just 100 calories. Why? Because the banana has more mass and has nutrients.

    In the same way, brown rice costs more than white rice, but you don’t need to eat as much of it to keep yourself nourished. Cheerios cost more than Cap’n Crunch, but my kids are hungry less than 2 hours after they eat Cap’n Crunch for breakfast while Cheerios will hold them for 3+ hours until lunch is served.

  40. we only eat healthy foods and we find it to be much cheaper.

    It has been so long since I ate cruddy food I can’t really compare but I look at the total rung up for my cart as compared to the totals of folks with all that processed crap and theirs are consistently lower than mine – always.

    I don’t buy cereal – make smoothies with yogurt, soy milk, fruit, oat bran. Yes, they are far more filling and satisfying BUT they cost a lot more than cereal.

  41. And….comparing Cheetos to bananas is absurd.

  42. If you buy whatever fruit/veggies is in season, skip anything with label “organic”, and buy grains in bulk, eating healthy is very affordable. Making just about anything from scratch will cost more then processed.

    Either way, the free food is goin to cost the nation almost a trillion over the next decade. 1-7 America’s are not starving. How many Americans have an Apple device? Before the ‘starving children’ argument pops up, will giving more money to poor parents enable their children to eat better? For a select few, maybe. But with any big govt giveaway the abuse is disgusting.

    Bb, how hard woul it be to only authorize EBT, SNAP, etc only in supermarkets except where there are none in a certain radius? Say 5 miles

  43. CT7 – how hard would it be to go shopping 5 miles away when you don’t have a workable car?

    AND are you suggesting a government bureau REQUIRING the placement of stores in certain geographic areas?

    Eating healthy is on a scale – organic – without herbicides and pesticides is definitely healthier AND much tastier.

  44. Try some reading comprehension. Ban EBT in anything but supermarkets, with the exception being rural areas with limited access.

    You can pay out the rear for organics, but people on the dole should not get an obvious luxury. I make a comfortable amount of money and cannot justify paying for organics. And they taste the same. I can wash away any negative attributes with all my saved cash.

  45. You do remember the big scare about pesticides contained on celery and apples last year don’t you?


  46. from the above cited:

    Pesticides Can’t Be Washed Off
    You may think you can just wash these pesticide residues off of fruits and veggies but the USDA has studied this and found that you can’t wash it off. Scrubbing, washing, rinsing—none of it worked to get rid of the pesticides. Even peeling didn’t work for fruits and veggies that had thin skins, like apples or peaches. The chemicals get through the flesh so peeling doesn’t help.

  47. PumainTacoma says:

    If the government can tell you to buy healthcare or broccoli they can tell you what to eat. Enjoy it. This is YOUR OBAMA legislation.

  48. Bb- American’s health is failing because they are at and lazy, not from chemicals making food affordable to the masses.

    Banning DDT killed more Africans then I care to look up.

  49. If you want to eat known carcinogens go ahead.

  50. So….making the bald eagle go extinct was OK by you?

  51. itwasntmethistime says:

    bB — Why is comparing Cheetos to a banana absurd? Both are typical between-meal snacks for modern American kids. Both can be found in almost every grocery store and convenience store in America. When your kids are asking for an afternoon snack between lunch and dinner you have the choice to give them a piece of healthy fruit or a bag of processed crap.

    As for the grocery bills of other people in line, I have consistantly found the opposite to be true. I am always amazed people will spend so much money on a cart full of processed foods just so they don’t have to cook for their kids.

  52. trackstar says:

    OKay, Okay…I agree food stamp recipients should not buy or should limit what they purchase when it comes to junk. I think that Parents who get on assistance of any kind like food stamps, should be required to take a nutritional class. But the thing is, who are we to say or demean these people for what they buy. WHO CARES! When i see woman and children shop, and they get so excited to pick out a snack, I feel so bad because of all the people who think they are so much better than they are. What gives someone a right to purchase junk? Cause you “earned” yours? God forbid one day you are faced with unforeseen surcumstances that put you exactly where they are!

    I know some people who have worked for over 20 yrs. and by no fault of their own had to get on assistance due to layoffs and such. My point is food stamp recipients are not sub human beings that has to be told what to buy, how to be treated or what to eat. Thats not fair! I bet more people than you know are on food stamps and are so ashamed of it in the first place, without you narrow minded people worrying about how they eat and what to buy.

    Maybe if they took the “junk” out of food, it wouldn’t be so bad. With all this genetically engineered food, preservatives, and CRAP i can’t even pronounce…maybe we should be worrying about that instead of the consumer. I work hard and pay taxes too, and if that is used to help feed people in my town then so be it. It’s ultimately up to the parents to model good eating habbits. It’s just like vegetarians or vegans telling you that you are wrong for eating meat…who’s the judge?

    Come on folks, lighten up! I have fat friends who feel the same way you do and they purchase all there JUNK with money. Now is that a product of food stamps. Food stamps can’t buy fast food, so whoever feeds there kids McDonalds, or Jack in the box are slowly killing your own families! What about that? What about food banks? They have junk there too, should they take that away? I volunteer and see ALOT of donated food from major stores…like junk! What is considered junk? Sugar, sweets, salty snacks, fried snacks, soda, candy? Because the economy happened, they don’t deserve to have a sense of normalcy, right? even when it’s picking up a .50 cent bag of chips for there child and a little bottle of juice. Shame on you !!

    Lets worry about our own, help each other when needed without question, judging or condemning. I know the frustration you might feel about food stamps, but does it hurt you that bad? your tax dollars don’t only go to “food Stamps” it goes to a number of other things. And plus, you get that back @ the end of the year when you do your taxes anyways!

  53. trackstar says:

    I guess food stamp children should sit there and stare at the faces of “regular cash paying” children, while they are eating there twinkies and licking there fingers, because they don’t deserve to eat those because mommy or daddy lost there job…hmmmm.

  54. trackstar says:

    We are all made to be mass consumers. Fruits and veggies even organic needs to be more affordable for the lower income. BUT, they don’t do that because America wants these processed foods, we have proved it. NOT just “food stamps recipients” but America as a whole. People say don’t buy junk and others say don’t buy fresh fish, filet mignon, or shrimp and lobster. What do you want from them? Just kick them deeper into the dirt while they’re down? I understand that most people buy junk…which leads to bad health, which leads to more diseases and so on. Thats why insurance companies are so Rich! We live in an affluent country that if we wanted to we can feed the whole world! But we don’t…why is that? No seriously, why is that? And, if you rely on the government to try to change and put restrictions on human consumption when they can’t even spend there own money and get themselves out of debt, what makes you think this is a priority to them? It’s a big business! Taking away there right as a person to be able to make food choices… you might as well take away there dignity too.

  55. trackstar says:


    Are you living in there home? Are you walking in there shoes? What makes you think when you see a cart full of procesed food, it signifies that they don’t want to cook for their family? How funny that is to me. It doesn’t even occur to you that maybe they might be having a little get together and needed snacks, or that they usually don’t shop like that but maybe you caught them on a shopping trip that is not usually what they would buy??
    What do you like to eat , honestly? Do you purchase big macs and fries? Do you like chips and dip and a soda now and then? Don’t throw stones unless you yourself are totally innocent and never buy those things at all. Shame on you! Take a look at that movie Food Inc. That will show you where your food is really coming from and how it is made. from “fresh tomatoes” to Tyson chicken.

    Shallow people rarely often see from another humans perspective nor do they care for it. They don’t see past the surface of things…I can’t even express how i feel about shallow people. Look deeper within yourself and listen to your thoughts when you think about people in such a judgmental way. Thats bigotry! I’m scared of what you might teach your kids @ home!

  56. trackstar says:

    Is everybody so hung up on how we feed the poor, and what we feed the poor, rather than just feeding the poor? It’s all about control! Who cares what they eat as long as they eat! And i can guarentee you all don’t eat as healthy as you claim. you just feel you have the right to cause you work for it. No, nothing will ever happen to you guys in the future, nothing at all, You are bringing in steady income…no worries in the world but only your nose in someone elses business. the next time you look down on someone else with food stamps remember, would you want the government to put a regulation, to prohibit what you can spend your money on. Alot of these people probably worked before and paid taxes. Do you ever think of that? Can any of you get your heads out of the sky long enough to understand these are human beings also? I guess I am just very compassionate when it comes to the welfare and rights of people. I am there helping in any way I can but I would never take there rights away, and yes, even when its what they consume!
    Thats their business! If it makes you feel better as a person to look down and judge others without knowing there current situation, than maybe you need to re-evaluate yourself. If you can say that a person on food stamps shouldn’t use it to purchase junk or processed food without you yourself ever buying that either…well, good for you for eating healthy! If you can sit there and look into the eyes of a child when they ask there mom for a treat and you can tell that child NO because your poor and your parents didn’t earn it, than you are not a human being! Everybody has a story, everybody has a journey and sometimes it doesn’t go according to plan, so Thank God for shallow narrow minded people like yourselves to remind them of there sad lives everyday. No matter what the person goes through in life : homeless, addict, poverty, poor, needy, impoverished etc. Whatever the case may be, they all have a story and has been through something. So instead of kicking them while they are down and being so against something so stupid, why not be pro something. If it bothers you that much offer to cook for them, hahahaha…yea! How about pay for their Jenny craig classes…right! MAybe, take their food stamps and go shopping for them, yea thats it, you are all experts at nutrition and health why don’t you do that! Pathetic!! MAybe you want to look at your bags of natural snacks again, Everything is processed!

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