Help For 3.6 Million Floridians on Food Stamps

Orlando Sentinel reports food stamp cuts will hit 3.6 million Floridians. Although cuts may vary, a family of four will receive $36 less each month.

Though we are 4 years into the Obama recovery (summer 2009), our food stamp budget continues to balloon. My home town newspaper conveniently left out details on the explosion of food stamp costs. At $85 billion it is 4 times what it was in 2000. The chart below helps to visually grasp the numbers. When will we return to pre-recession spending?

201206_blog_edwards141Besides the loosening of the eligibility requirements, two other aspects of the food stamp program contribute to the rising costs, fraud and junk food. Last spring, government watchdog groups called upon the Department of Agriculture that administers the program to release its data on where the food stamps are being spent and on what kinds of food. The effort to get this information has been stonewalled by Obama administration. According to the CATO Institute this is most likely to avoid the embarrassment of how much of the taxpayer’s money is being wasted on junk food and food stamp trafficking.

With these spending cuts, Dave Krepcho, president and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, the region’s biggest distributor, told the Orlando Sentinel that he is concerned his agency will struggle with growing demand as a result of the cuts.

It is unclear how much Second Harvest receives in government grants and private donations to distribute food.  Central Florida Business Journal in 2010 reported a grant of $250,000 was secured by Feeding America which works with the Florida Association of Food Banks to allocate funds statewide based on need. This grant was part of The Blue Foundation’s Embrace a Healthy Florida initiative. Florida Blue Foundation is a separate philanthropic affiliate of Florida Blue, formerly Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida. With so many middle men involved it seems there must be a less costly and less bureaucratic way to distribute food the poor. How many people get a cut of the contribution before it gets to the poor?

I suggest practicing true charity by bringing food items from your pantry to drop off at Church on Sunday where true volunteers can deliver it face to face with the needy. Or, you can volunteer your time as I have done packing food items at the great facility Second Harvest has on Old Winter Garden Road and Mercy Drive. Either way, the community should pull together and not rely on a government already $17 trillion in debt to solve our problems.


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