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Food Stamp Fiasco – When the Hungry Get Hangry

Many reading this post have either had to rely on some form of government assistance, or we know someone who has. Everybody needs a little help at some point in their life. If not from government assistance, from a friend or family member. That’s just the way of it. The problem arises when we become dependent on a program or someone else to provide the very basics for sustaining life. In this case, I’m talking about food.

Oil rich Venezuela is only one perfect example of starving people dependent upon their government to feed them. It is a common thing for other countries to suffer from food shortages, hunger and starvation, but with the abundance we have in the U.S., that is far from the minds of the masses. That sort of thing could never happen here, right? Wrong!

You may remember the fiasco that happened with EBT cards in October of 2013 affecting 17 states. EBT is the abbreviation for Electronic Benefit Transfer, and the cards replaced physical food stamps. In the 2013 incident, some recipient’s cards had an unlimited balance added to their card, while others had a zero balance.
Not cool!

A simple computer glitch created havoc all across the nation with grocery shelves emptying and uprisings where a police presence was required. The Twittersphere went wild with threats of rioting that would resemble the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, where within a week, more than 50 people were killed, more than 2,300 were injured, and thousands were arrested. About 1,100 buildings were damaged, and total property damage was around $1 billion. These riots represented one of the most-devastating civil disruptions in American history.

The Rodney King incident happened in one city. A scenario where this same kind of civil unrest is nationwide would be even more devastating. It would certainly be easy to find ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. A perfect example of this is Reginald Denny. The fact is, messing around with someone’s EBT food entitlement has already shown what can happen in just a matter of hours.

Immediately following the October 2013 EBT uprising, budget cuts to the program scheduled to take effect on November 1st prompted the Department of Homeland Security to outlay $80 million for additional armed guards to protect government buildings. Apparently, government officials were taking this as a serious threat. On a national level, Marshall law could be on the table to maintain control of the masses.

On a more up close and personal note, I asked the question to some volunteers at a community gardening project if they were prepared in the event they couldn’t buy food for a couple of weeks during a crisis. Out of 25 people, not one could last over 3-4 days before their food ran out. When I asked them what they would do, I got several answers. None of which I thought was a very good plan. Some were even disturbing, admitting they would do whatever it took, even if it meant taking food from their neighbors. That’s the reality of it. When people get hungry enough, they will do anything to eat.

With President Trump’s proposed changes to the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, i.e. EBT/food stamps) in April of 2020, there is a possibility of more discontent and unrest among the 36 million recipients who are currently dependent on this government entitlement program. It’s estimated that 700,000 people will be removed entirely from the program, losing their SNAP benefit.

One of the longstanding requirements for able-bodied recipients who could work a job to receive SNAP, was that they work a minimum of 20 hours per week to keep their benefits beyond the 3 month allocation. This work could be gainful employment, job-related training or it could be volunteer work.

At the risk of sounding uncompassionate, which I am not, and considering that hunger and food are the issue, a simple remedy for meeting this able-bodied 20-hour requirement is to volunteer in a community garden. God knows, community gardens can use the help! The added benefits of pursuing this solution way outweigh the SNAP benefits these folks receive. The recipient would not only have access to fresh food, they would gain the skill of growing their own food. They would become part of the solution by becoming more self-reliant. Makes sense to me.

Knowing how to grow your own food is important. Starting a community garden, or volunteering in a community garden is the best way I know to get free on-the-job training for a skill that can keep you alive. Use the Contact Us page to connect with me for more information about how to go about getting involved in a program in your area. Meanwhile, check out the F.I.E.L.D.S. page on this site.

Thanks for reading!

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • LS Finley March 10, 2020, 10:45 pm

    Hey, Geno, enjoyed reading your reminder of the importance of gardening for self-sufficiency and, of course, good health! How is the community gardening project going in your neck of the woods?

    • Geno March 11, 2020, 1:54 pm

      Thanks for the comment! All’s well. I am currently working on multiple community gardening projects, with more on the way. Spring planting time has me pretty hooked up right now.

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