The Daily Gamecock

National hunger crisis won't be satisfied by spending cuts

Restricting access to choice not point of SNAP

Across the United States, especially here in South Carolina, there are far too many people who, on a daily basis, don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

Taken as whole, that means about 49 million American citizens and almost 1 out of every 5 South Carolinians suffer from some sort of food insecurity, turning to the federal government as a last resort in order to stay alive.

So why on earth are there talks in Washington to reduce the amount of money that poor people receive and then subsequently turn around and limit the very options they could afford?
Under new guidelines, the Department of Agriculture has recently started asking several states for their input on whether or not they should limit the things recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can use the benefits for.

Similarly, many members of Congress have apparently come to the conclusion that people using SNAP benefits are probably doing so well financially that they’re able to stand on their own two feet and don’t need as much funding as they currently receive.

In other words, they’re just asking states to confirm what they seemingly think to be the truth: Those who can’t afford to eat healthy foods on their own can’t be allowed to eat foods that they can afford with SNAP benefits. Otherwise, they’ll just get fat, and we simply couldn’t have that.
After all, they would argue, South Carolina has the eighth highest obesity rate in the nation, and since about 878,000 of its citizens are on food stamps, stopping them from buying unhealthy foods with those food stamps would be beneficial.

We do need to be doing all we can do to bring both of those statistics down. But reducing the amount of money SNAP recipients get and then robbing them of the choice to buy foods that fit into that smaller budget isn’t even logical.

While there’s no doubt that many Americans, South Carolinians especially included, may be facing a battle of the bulge, at this point we should at least be grateful they have bulges to fight with.

As a nation, we should all be ashamed of the way in which we’ve left so many of our citizens without access to some of the basic necessities of human life: healthy and nutritious foods.

If leaders want people to use government benefits wisely — to buy healthy foods — they have to give those people enough money to actually do so. They must choose to either cut benefits or cut choices, not both..


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