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Food Stamps aren't a Safety Net - they're a Trampoline

It's a presidential election year and competing views of how the American dream can both be attained and protected will be front and center in our national conversation. But while the American Dream, once an optimistic view of a nation serving as the "shining city on a hill," will be debated, the darker more challenging American Myth of employment will demand attention.

It's a presidential election year and competing views of how the American dream can both be attained and protected will be front and center in our national conversation. But while the American Dream, once an optimistic view of a nation serving as the "shining city on a hill," will be debated, the darker more challenging American Myth of employment will demand attention. As our nation continues to struggle with unemployment and the challenges that arise from an economy unwilling to heal itself, the myth that those employed in America do not live in poverty is prevalent and needs to be addressed, understood and appreciated.

During the month of March I will live a food stamp experience. I will get up in the morning, help get the kids ready for school, go to work, help the kids with their homework in the evening and do my best to be a father, husband, provider, productive member of our community and faith-filled member of my church. But I will live on a food stamp budget and I will share that same exact week with the majority of those on food stamps in America. Yes, the majority of households in America receiving food stamp assistance have at least on employed member.

Food stamps have often been incorrectly described as a "safety net" or even by some as a "hammock" - the program is neither of those. Food stamps are best described as a trampoline - keeping children, families and seniors in need from hitting the bottom hard and launching them back to self sufficiency. In the process, this critical program provides an amazing level of economic activity which is vital for the health of our communities. Second Harvest Community Food Bank recently launched a new program (Close the Gap) designed to help improve the food security status of those in our region who are eligible for nutrition assistance but for some reason are not enrolled in these important programs. When we have successfully met our goals for the year, this program will provide $2.2 million in economic activity to the cities and towns of Northwest Missouri and improve the quality of life for over 500 individuals, children and families. That economic activity means jobs and retail sales, and those benefits equal healthy children able to compete in school, families staying together and seniors living life without the fear of poverty.

I invite you to join me in this month long experience by being a part of the conversation and debate. Let's do the hard work of citizenship and seek to truly understand the challenges we face as a nation and community and at the same time understand the programs designed to help our neighbors during very difficult times.

I look forward to hearing from you...

Posted by David Davenport, CEO - Friday, 03/02/12, 11:54 AM - Comments - Category: Food Stamp Challenge 2012

Comments

Comment by John Bloomstine on March 13, 2012 - 03:13 PM
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I would like to communicate with by email regarding this challenge. I am in California and doing a $4.50 a Day Food Stamp Challenge from January through March. I suggest that you consider making homemade whole wheat bread. I have been making organic whole wheat bread for less than a $1.00 a loaf. It makes 16 slices. Another suggestion is to team together with others that are doing the challenge and combine your money to buy in bulk. I have been keeping a detailed Excel spreadsheet with items eaten, quantity and calories, fat, sodium, protein and fiber. I have kept my receipts for verification purposes. I think that doing the challenge for at least a month more reflects the conditions of those on Food Stamps. Because Food Stamp recipients receive their allotment each month in one transaction, they are able to buy in bulk. I have many other things that I do to stretch my money to successfully meet this challenge.

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