There's a lot of talk amongst Trump supporters and the far right about the way in which food stamps are decimating the federal budget and costing American taxpayers millions.
If you hear people speaking like this, I would like you to consider saying something in response. These are criticisms that cannot be allowed to stand.
As a child, my family received food stamps. My parents worked full time until my mother was injured at work and permanently disabled. She received a settlement for her disability, but even with these two incomes, my parents received food stamps at certain times in our lives. We also received cheese and milk from the WIC and an occasional donation of food from the church.
Despite all of this support, I was hungry as a child.
I was hungry a lot.
This is why I become so enraged when I hear people talk about food stamps as the bane of the federal budget.
The annual report from the United States Department of Agriculture showed that about 45 percent of food stamp benefits went to children under 18, totaling about 20 million youngsters. Nine percent of recipients were age 60 or older, and nearly 10 percent were disabled adults who were under 60, according to the analysis of food stamp usage for the fiscal year that ended in September 2014.
I know that there is fraud and abuse in the food stamp program (as there are in MANY PARTS of our nation's budget, including the military), but this does not make it bad or unnecessary. When I hear someone complain about the less than two percent of our annual budget that feeds people who would otherwise go hungry, I ask:
Do you really think that I should have been hungrier as a child?
Did I not deserve the food that I received as a child thanks to food stamps?
Do you really think the wealthiest nation on the planet should allow children, the elderly, the disabled, and even those abled bodied adults who are experiencing unexpected difficulties to go hungry?
Hunger is a terrible thing. When I was homeless later in life, I was often hungry, but because I had no address or phone number, I was not eligible for many of the benefits that might have otherwise been able to receive, including food stamps. Nor could I find a job without an address or phone number. Had it not been for friends and former employees who took me in when I was in desperate need of help, I might still be hungry today.
I am not opposed to rooting out waste and fraud. I am not opposed to making things more efficient in order to save money. But when I hear well fed people talk about cutting back on food stamps for people who genuinely need them to eat, it makes me wish that these lawmakers could experience hunger in the way that so many Americans have experienced it in their lives.
It's easy to cast judgment on others with a full belly.