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Monday, March 4, 2013

Thoughts on Food Stamp Program by Wayne Hoffman

The following is offered by permission from Mr. Hoffman of the Idaho Freedom Foundation and first appeared in the Idaho Press Tribune March 4, 2013 

The last thing Idaho should be doing is finding new ways to make poverty more convenient.

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee, which previously advanced a bill to allow food stamp benefits to be distributed multiple times per month, changed its mind and killed the measure over cost concerns. That means food stamp benefits will continue to go out on the first of each month, resulting in continued long lines at the grocery store and spoiled food left by shoppers who gave up on making a purchase on food stamp distribution day.

Some lawmakers said the multi-day distribution idea ignores the bigger problems with food stamps. Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, has long been frustrated by the visual of poor Idahoans buying grocery carts full of junk food on their government entitlement.

“We need a committee that is willing to keep emotions out of this and find ways to help people stretch their food dollars,” Lodge said. “The food stamp program is supposed to be supplemental nutrition, and we need to get people to stop buying cookies, energy drinks, soft drinks and such. We need to encourage them to buy potatoes instead of a bag of potato chips. Simply issuing food stamps for 10 days instead of one doesn’t ensure that people are stretching their food budgets in nutritious ways. I cannot support this bill.”

I will add to what Lodge said: If the food stamp program is “improved,” it will eliminate the need to truly fix the program.

Right now, program users — food stamp recipients and grocers alike — have reason to improve the safety net for people in poverty. They’re united in the disdain for how the program works and the impact on Idaho citizens.

When I talk to groups about government entitlements, not a single person has disagreed with me that food stamps reflect badly on compassionate impulses, on our desire to help our neighbors who are struggling.

The committee’s action came as the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force announced the results of a study finding that 15.4 percent of households in the state had an “inability to afford enough food.”

“It is unacceptable that so many people across Idaho are struggling and cannot afford enough food to provide for their families,” said Kathy Gardner, director of the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force in a news release. “These numbers show us that we must make our nation’s safety net stronger, not weaker. We can’t afford to leave these vulnerable people behind.”

It will be shocking for some to read this, but she’s right. The food stamp program is clearly broken, and all the money the government keeps throwing at poverty and hunger doesn’t seem to be working.

However, Gardner wants more money for the program. I don’t.

And Lodge is right; we need a different kind of discussion, one that results in improved nutrition and greater accountability, one that connects people to private charity, families, churches and communities — groups that will find ways to help lift people up from poverty, not provide a resource that keeps them there.


  1. This is the richest country on the face of the earth and I have no problem with people on the bottom rungs of society getting enogh food to eat. However, I think there should be some guidelines and restrictions on what they can buy with out money. There also, needs to be a qualifying and certification program like Love Inc. where they take people and teach them how to cook and how to stretch their food dollars.

    The baskets full of prepared junk flying out the doors of markets the first of each month call into question the food stamp program.

  2. Instead of giving them stamps to spend at grocery stores why not create an entity that would distibute healthy food to the families using a monthly letter indicating they are authorize for and how much they can get. Let this clearing house distribute the food to the families. No more long lines at the grocery stores and no more t-bones or candy for those who need the help.

  3. It is my understanding that on top of food stamps or whatever you care to call the program there are in the neighborhood of 17 food pantry operations in this valley. Add to this Head Start where kids get free breakfasts, and free or reduced lunches at school along with a backpak full of chow for the weekends. Like Wayne points out "we have made poverty more convenient".

    I do like the idea of centralized places that hand out rations of food that have to be prepared from scratch. I also like the idea people on the hand-out program have some basic cooking skills before they get a single gram of food from the public taxpayer. I would additionally require theri microwaves go bye-bye. I see very few thin people using food stamps... their food choices are poor and lead to obesity and that leads to higher Medicaid costs for taxpayers.

  4. I agree that no reasonable person would deny help to someone who truly needs it.But we have created a system where it is very profitable to be "poor". If you observe the people on these programs you will note that many are in their 20s and you will seldom see someone missing an arm or leg or in a wheelchair. Most are perfectly able to provide for themselves if they were required to do so. Most of these people are on multiple programs and milk the system for all they can. Stop and think if you didn't have to pay for groceries rent utilities ,medical care, daycare, education if you chose to go and then you got a nice fat tax return for more money than you paid in how easy would you life be. To top it off the state welfare department teaches classed in how to get all you are entitled to.Sure makes you want to go to work tomorrow.

    1. I saw something worthy to note while I was at Wal-Mart. Some guy was buying up lots of ammunition with his hard earned money at one end of the store, and then at the other end he was using his food stamp card to get his groceries. Go figure.

  5. Commodity's are handed out on a regular basis and many fine cars drivethe recipients to get them. In addition to helping the poor with foodstamps two new projects are under way to help people with their housing problem. The Mercy project in Nampa and a motel in Caldwell.
    These facility's are being rebuilt so that after they have taken all of your money you will have a place to live to go along with the food that isbeing provided. Thankfully farmers in China and Mexico will still work for almost nothing

  6. Do you people really think Albesons, Super Value, Walmart or any other grocery chain will stand by and let you take their main source of income? Corporate greed is just as much to blame for what is going on in America. How many stores would close if you couldn't use food stamps there anymore, how many workers would go from min wage to no wage and collect more? Our system is broken and it is not placed squarly on the people using the system, look at all the CEO's of the world that would lose a couple of vaction homes or a Rolls Royce if they could no longer accept food stamps. Greed and Sloth have come home to roost in this so called great country. We no longer care about helping anyone but ourselves.

    PS Wayne Hoffman is a nut job!

    PSS this won't get printed. :-)

  7. Wayne may be a purist in the pursuit of his political beliefs but "nut job" is not a good description of Wayne. In my dealings with him he can go toe to toe with anyone in defense of his positions. You better bring your A-Game if you want to debate him.

    I don't always agree with him but I fully respect his intelligence and positions in most but not all things. Unlike Wayne, I have come to believe the only free markets in this country are the drug trade and prostitution when you get rignt down to brass tacks.

  8. Personal responsibility seems to be a foreign concept with many people.


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