Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Food Assistance Stupidity

Out of curiosity, I looked into the Alaska Food Stamp program. For the most part, everything makes sense, although I do question some of the work-related eligibility requirements as a tad over-stringent given our geography and economy; however I have some serious qualms with a couple of covered and uncovered items.

WRT subsistence hunting and fishing:
  • Covered: necessary hunting and fishing equipment
  • Not Covered: firearms and ammunition

Huh?!? So what exactly are we hunting with? Bow & arrows? Spears & clubs? Harsh language? The least they could do is offer some lifetime limits on appropriate calibers of firearms and a yearly allotment of those ammunitions. Say, for each family member, one 22LR & one 30-06, with a yearly allotment of 100 rds each... that should do it for most real subsistence hunting situations in this state (you can get a moose and some grouse).

WRT purchased food & food products:

  • Covered: Snack foods like candy, potato chips, chewing gum, and soft drinks. Vegetable seeds and food producing plants, roots, and trees.
  • Not Covered: Items for food preservation, such as pressure cookers, canning jars and lids, paraffin, freezer containers and wrapping paper.
WTF??? You'll let someone buy nutritionally void GARBAGE on food stamps, but not necessary equipment to preserve nutritiously wholesome food?! And you'll cover the seed/stock to grow edible plants, but not the means to preserve any of the harvest?!

And this is why I think the government officials responsible for developing and regulating these programs are asshats and cause most of the abuses in "social welfare". I know a lot of folks think these sorts of programs should be eliminated entirely, but I just want them managed properly and logically if we're going to pay for them!


Plickety Cat said...

And a micro rant about Blogger for your enjoyment...

I had to post this entry THREE TIMES before it stuck! The first published a blank page so I had to rewrite it. The second I was smart and copied before submission, which was really smart since it published blank again and finally accepted and published the pasted content on the third try.

Come on guys... isn't it bad enough that you keep making me log in even though I check "remember me" and sometimes you get me in a state where I'm neither logged in or logged out, so I can't do anything except shut down my browser and come back later? Now you're just not going to publish content of a post randomly?

Now that you're attached to Google, an "industry leader", I would have thought you'd have gotten it together better!

Anonymous said...

Do you really need food stamps?

Plickety Cat said...

No, we don't need food stamps... just came across it during research and thought those two points were a bit illogical.

Gungnir said...

Well to explain we were discussing some stuff the other night and we got talking about assistance programs available (such as subsistence licenses etc.) in AK for natives, and people in rural areas. Lets be straight up here, if we wanted to buy a Big Mac, Fries and a Coke it would cost currently $236.75 and the price of a Big Mac, Fries and a Coke. It kind of sprang from a discussion we had the other day while we were in Fairbanks with a friend about another topic who suggested we video a trip from our place to Fairbanks, so people could see exactly what it involves.

Anyway we looked up the food stamp program and noticed some non sequiturs, where it allows people to buy certain things that aren't "subsistence" items, soda, chewing gum, some things that can provide subsistence items like fishing equipment which includes plants and rod and reel. This is weird in itself since a subsistence fishing license does NOT let you fish using a rod, that's sports fishing.

So the question arose, are food stamps to directly provide minimum nutrition, or are they to provide a mechanism to let people provide minimum nutrition (either directly or indirectly), because at the moment it could be either or none. One quote that's interesting is the following...
"Buying food products in larger quantities may help stretch your food stamp dollar."

However food preservation materials (jars, ziplocs, freezer paper) are strictly prohibited from purchase by food stamps.

Seems like a weird way to run the program, "We recommend you buy in bulk, so it can go bad because we won't let you store it on our dime. Psych!

Anonymous said...

I see.

In my view, I understand sort of what they're going for even if it doesn't make it entirely logical. Give a man a fish or teach him to fish? I prefer the teaching and maybe while he's learning, slide him a fish dinner or two till he's got it figured out. I think though, being that many Alaskans rely on hunting and fishing for their food, it might make sense to add those things, along with other tools for survival, to the list. It may be politically motivated, who knows. I do know that many states are similar in the types of things that you can and can't purchase.

You don't have to buy junkfood though so it's not a complete waste from a nutrition standpoint.

Plickety Cat said...

I totally agree with allowing Food Stamps to be used to purchase the means of providing food, especially here in AK where so many survive on subsistence... but if that's the case, then it should cover rifles and ammo as well as nets and fishing gear; and if they're going to allow seeds and seedlings, then they should allow preservation materials.

I've lived in several states that only allowed REAL food on food stamps... 100% fruit juice but not "fruit drinks"; chips & pretzels but not candy bars & chewing gum. When I lived in TX, not only could I not accept food stamps for fruit drinks and candy, I also had to add sales tax (real food isn't taxable).

Just seems that if the goal is to help provide nutrition and assist with subsistence and improve food self-sufficiency that they'd be a little more logical about what was covered.

Mike Yukon said...

Plickety, I now how you're feeling but this is the way government help or assistance operates and why it is failing all of us. All we can do is get out of the way and let it collapse on itself!

Anonymous said...

Well you have a point about govt illogic but I'm reading an awful lot of "shoulds" here. I don't want anyone to starve, so I'm willing to give basic food to the poor, but why "should" my tax dollars buy someone expensive capital goods, such as rifles or pressure cookers? Besides, if they don't already have those basic tools they're probably not really a subsistence hunter!

Plickety Cat said...

I can see your point about not subsidizing the equipment, even if these folks are living well below the national poverty level. My qualm is if the gov't has decided to assist folks with subsistence food production equipment, then assist with all the necessary related equipment... not just pick and choose. Either don't do it, or do it all... see what I mean?

Geneva in Missouri said...

I live in Missouri and have been unemployed since August. I live in a very rural area with small towns nearby. There aren't any jobs in these towns and the jobs I do find don't pay enough to cover my gas and my bills. I've been on food stamps since August. I was up for renewal this month. They have decided to change my food stamp amount from $200 a month for a family of 1 to $43 a month for a family of 1. Yeah, $43 a month for food. This new amount starts in July so I'll be spending the $200 for June to stock up on stuff that I can freeze for a long time or canned/dry stuff that won't go bad. But I can't believe they think I can maintain minimum nutrition for $43 a month. Hello?? We are talking PB&J and ramien noodles here. Crazy....