The thought of poor folks on food assistance buying brand name goods -- like Frosted Flakes, for example -- makes Carol Gaither's blood boil.
"There’s no reason she should be loading up on those pricey TV dinners if she’s getting the government to pay for it," Gaither told The Onion of what she witnessed in the grocery store. She also notes that two whole chickens and a bag of potatoes could inexpensively feed her family for a week.
Of course, The Onion is a satirical news source, and its depiction of self-righteous Carol Gaither is nothing but fodder. But even as we laugh at the thought of Carol -- who also knows "exactly how a parent should go about disciplining their child" and can "methodically [dissect] the laziness of obese people" -- her character may hit too close to home.
The issue of food assistance in the U.S. has long been a debated topic, and frequently, food stamp recipients are on the receiving end of unwarranted judgement. This past Monday, Republican Senate candidate Dr. Annette Bosworth compared people on food assistance to wild animals. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a leading advocate for slashing food assistance budgets, said in March that inner cities have a "real culture problem" of men not working and not valuing work.
But Bosworth and Ryan may want to take a closer look at who exactly receives food assistance in this country before degrading them. Military families, for example, benefit greatly from the federal government's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), with more than $100 million in food aid being redeemed on military bases in 2013.
Food stamp fraud and abuse, often cited by Republican lawmakers as reasons to discredit assistance programs, has actually declined substantially from the early 1990s. "Trafficking," a fraudulent activity where SNAP benefits are sold for cash, is down to just one cent per dollar. What's more, the number of households on SNAP that have at least one employed family member has increased steadily throughout the last 20 years.
It sounds like Carol Gaither should learn a thing or two before her next grocery run.
Are you or someone you know struggling to fight hunger? Learn more about SNAP on the program's website.