I read the New York Times article titled “Food Stamps Usage Soars, Stigma Fades.” The article is about the lessening of stigma regarding the use of food stamps. What comes to mind when you think of the U.S. welfare system, specifically food stamps or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)?
For me, I remember seeing black single mothers with multiple children (read: more than 3) in the grocery store handing multi-colored slips of paper across the counter to the cashier. Others, like President Ronald Reagan, associate with this program certain women, like Linda Taylor, Barbara Williams, Arlens Otis, and Dorothy Woods. As defrauders of government sponsored welfare programs, these women’s public “transgressions” aided Ronald Reagan to stir the public imagination and create the “welfare queen. ” In his most famous of quotes regarding the welfare queen, He said:
“She has 80 names, 30 addresses, 12 Social Security cards and is collecting veteran’s benefits on four non-existing deceased husband. She’s got Medicaid, getting food-stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names.”
So as the Country wades through the fallout happening from this Great Recession, we are witnessing a reshaping of economic classes:
“Growth has come equally from places where food stamp use was common and places where it was rare. Since 2007, the 600 counties with the highest percentage of people on the rolls added 1.3 million new recipients. So did the 600 counties where use was lowest.
The richest counties are often where aid is growing fastest, although from a small base. In 2007, Forsyth County, outside Atlanta, had the highest household income in the South. (One author dubbed it “Whitopia.”) Food stamp use there has more than doubled.
This is the first recession in which a majority of the poor in metropolitan areas live in the suburbs, giving food stamps new prominence there. Use has grown by half or more in dozens of suburban counties from Boston to Seattle, including such bulwarks of modern conservatism as California’s Orange County, where the rolls are up more than 50 percent.”
In an article from the Huffinton Post, I think James Weill, president of Food Research and Action Center, said it best that “there are just very large numbers of people who rely on this program for a month, six months, a year. What I hope comes out of this study is an understanding that food stamp beneficiaries aren’t them – they’re us.”