Times are tough. It’s hard to get food on the table. There’s widespread unemployment. Many young American troops are abroad fighting our enemies.
It’s a scary time for our country.
1939 sounds just like 2012, right? Indeed, that was the sentiment in 1939 when the American government rolled out the first Food Stamp Program (FSP) to a hungry, undernourished nation.
At that time there was, on the one hand, a surplus of food being produced domestically, yet on the other hand, many Americans struggled to get their hands on it. Recognizing this disparity, the government rolled out a way to “build a bridge across that chasm,” as Milo Perkins (administrator for the first FSP program) said, by getting hungry citizens access to the over-abundance of food being produced. And voila! Food stamps were born!
In the 70 years since its introduction, the FSP has grown into a program that “feeds” over 46 million Americans and distributes over $65 billion in food vouchers yearly. And over the years, the surpluses have continued to thrive thanks in large part to generous government subsidies.
But these generous subsidies are misguided at best. The corn, dairy, and meat industries are their biggest recipients. And therefore processed corn products, hormone-filled dairy products, and bottom-of-the-barrel-quality meat is being produced in excess…with the government’s help.
Today, like 1939, despite the surplus in food production, there is still scarcity (due to joblessness, war, a bad economy, and a host of other reasons we hear about every day) and people are struggling to eat healthfully and abundantly.
One would think that modern technological advances have made feeding a family in a healthful, nutritious way a cinch, right?
Not really….but distributing and receiving the government’s food assistance money is certainly a cinch! Unlike 1939, there’s a super-easy way to sign up for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, and an even easier way to distribute the funds once the government approves an applicant. Approved applicants are issued debit cards which can be used in markets and even ATM machines. No more waiting in lines.
Once you’ve got the card….as for food options?…the choice is yours!
And also unlike 1939, there’s a virtually unlimited amount of (toxic, unhealthful, non-nourishing) food options for those in need: McDonalds, Cheetos, Kool-Aid, Hamburger Helper. It’s never been so easy to feed a family!
And lastly…way unlike 1939, for the first time ever, because of preventable, diet-caused diseases (heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, etc.) we are the first generation in history that is projected to actually out-live our own children. As a country, we’ve never been fatter.
So what we’re left with is a nation that simultaneously needs food and a nation that produces too much (of the wrong types of) food. We are a nation that tries to “build a bridge across that chasm,” but we’re falling in the river. And our fat asses are sinking to the bottom.
It’s a scary time for our country.
The very people that are supposed to be nourished by the SNAP program remain undernourished and/or malnourished. They then require pills and procedures to remedy their health problems caused by eating a lifetime’s worth of terrible food. Meanwhile it seems impossible for both sides of the legislative aisle to come to any agreement on a national health care plan to care for our sick citizens (made sick from eating disgusting food).
So here’s a plan….instead of subsidizing corn, meat, and dairy, subsidize turnips, kale, and quinoa. We don’t just need change. We need a total do-over. A mulligan, if you will. And in the meantime, maybe put some limitations on those using SNAP benefits for nourishment? Like…no Cheetos, for instance. No fast food. Or insist that recipients of SNAP benefits spend 50% their money on vegetables.
If we don’t do something drastic, we’ll continue our destiny of becoming the fattest, most cardiovascularly-challenged country that ever was. One nation, undernourished, with liberty and diabetes for all….