Should Christians Support Food Stamps Cuts? Depends On Who You Ask

Jackie Speier Protests Food Stamp Cuts With Steak, Vodka, Caviar

She has had to ration needy families to receiving just one week’s worth of groceries a month to keep from running out, as has happened at some other food banks around the state. “It’s the double whammy the state cuts to unemployment benefits and the delays in food stamps,” Foley said. “We’re giving out less food to each family because of the numbers. That’s all we can do.” Wake began processing all food stamp applications with NCFAST in February. Assistant county social services director Liz Scott said the applications process was already slow because requests for help have doubled since the start of the recession in 2008. Wake social workers are currently assigned an average load of about 2,000 individual cases each, she said. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are more than 1.7 million people relying on federal food assistance statewide, getting an average of less than $4 each per day. One in six North Carolina households has faced food insecurity in the last year, the fifth-highest rate in the nation. Nearly 90 percent of all food stamp recipients live in a household with a child, a senior citizen or a person with a disability. The state bought its new case management software from an Irish company now owned by IBM and then hired technology contractor Accenture to modify the system. NCFAST is now being expanded to process applications for not only food stamps, but Medicaid, welfare and aid for people with disabilities living in adult care homes. The stakes are high.

NC families go hungry as food assistance delayed

Rev. Gary Cook, the Director of Church Relations at Christian anti-hunger advocacy group, Bread for the World, has told The Christian Post that he is worried that the latest cuts could further marginalize the most vulnerable, rather than mobilize people back to work. Cook explained that the cuts would cut off able-bodied adult Americans without dependents who had been receiving food stamps, even though they were not working. Currently, these individuals can qualify for food stamps “if governors discover that there really aren’t any jobs or there aren’t any job training spots for people to get into.” States then can apply for an exemption that would allow these individuals to still receive foods stamps, explained Cook. “The people who take advantage of this are some of the poorest of the poor people in the country,” Cook told CP. “Their average annual income is $2200 a person. They are among the most difficult to employee. If the government says our economy works well, when we have five or six percent unemployment, because that’s our policy, at least they can eat.” But according to Ken Blackwell, who is the Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment at the conservative Christian lobbying group, Family Research Council, programs like food stamps prevented people from being truly empowered. Like us on Facebook “I think through empowering others and creating self-sufficiencythere within lies the path to sense of worthiness,” Blackwell told CP. “When I was growing up, there was fundamental belief, that there were times in people’s life when they needed a hand upthere were temporariness to hose programs, where they were structured so that they didn’t breed so that they didn’t breed dependency.” Blackwell also suggested that there was “nothing more Christian” than “not locking people into a permanent dependency on government handouts, but making sure they are participants in their own upliftment and empowerment so that they in fact through the dignity of work and can break from the plantation of big government.” For Cook, though, providing food stamps for the poor had strong Biblical support. “In the whole kind of Biblical frame, God made three provisions for hungry people,” said Cook. “One was the tithe, which was literally a tax, because the government was the same as the religious order, and allowed widows and orphans to eat.” “The second provision was that there would always be Sabbath and jubilee, where every seven years and 50 years, there was land redistribution. This provision was to prevent class of people that were currently hungry,” Cook added. The last, Cook said, was gleaning where corners of the field were deliberately not harvested so poorer members of the community could gather the remainder and use it to feed themselves. “Here, hungry people have access to food as a matter of right, not as a matter of charity,” said Cook, attempting to bring the connection back to contemporary American context.

The beneficiaries of the organization’s year-round efforts are always featured prominently at the shows, with a Homegrown Village providing concert-goers a chance to meet local farmers, learn agrarian skills, and eat food from vendors who meet strict criteria set by Farm Aid. “We talk about saving the family farmer, but the fact is, it’s the family farmer who will save us all,” Nelson said at a media event before the gates opened at noon Saturday. Matthews gave a shout-out to activists wearing anti-fracking T-shirts at the media event, which was also open to many farmers, vendors and volunteers. “Don’t frack our farmlands,” Matthew said, to loud applause. Several anti-fracking groups from New York and Pennsylvania had a booth at the event, calling for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to continue the state’s moratorium on shale gas development that began in 2008. This year the village was set up on the expansive lawns of the state park surrounding the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. The action there got going before the 10-hour concert. The village offered plenty of activities to help people get in touch with their inner farmer. There’s a daylong group potato-stamp art project; workshops on making butter, bacon, cheese, lemon vinegar and llama wool bracelets; and a demonstration of how to grow shiitake mushrooms on logs in your own backyard. Joshua Cummings of Hartford, N.Y., was biting into a snappy grilled bratwurst as he walked among the vendors’ tents. “I want to know where my food came from and what went into it,” he said, adding that farm-fresh food also tastes better.

At food-filled Farm Aid, music isn’t only focus

Speier was not available for comment following the vote. “I can stand here and say that my point is about saving food stamps from cuts,” Speier told fellow representatives before the vote. “But my larger point is about us as a country. Im a member of the least productive Congress in the history of this country. Im ashamed of that. When a government for the people becomes a government in spite of the people, then who are we really serving?” Also on HuffPost: Speaker Of The House, 112th Congress (2011-present) Nancy Pelosi Speaker Of The House, 110th & 111th Congress (2007-2011) Dennis Hastert Speaker Of The House, 106th-109th Congress (1999-2007) Newt Gingrich Speaker Of The House, 104th & 105th Congress (1995-99) Thomas Foley (Pictured left) Speaker Of The House, 101st-103rd Congress (1989-95) Jim Wright (Pictured right) Speaker Of The House, 100th & 101st Congress (1987-89). Resigned from the House of Representatives on June 6, 1989. Tip O’Neill (Pictured center) Speaker Of The House, 95th-99th Congress (1977-87) Carl Albert (Pictured center) Speaker Of The House, 92nd-94th Congress (1971-77) John McCormack (Pictured center) Speaker Of The House, 87th-91st Congress (1962-71) Sam Rayburn Speaker Of The House, 76th-79th Congress (1940-47), 81st & 82nd Congress (1949-53), 84th-87th Congress (1955-61). Died on Nov. 16, 1961. Joe Martin (Pictured right) Speaker Of The House, 80th & 83rd Congress (1947-49, 1953-55) William Bankhead (Pictured back row, left) Speaker Of The House, 74th-76th Congress (1936-1940). Took over after the death of Joseph Byrns on June 4, 1936. Died in office on Sept. 15, 1940.