Letter: Food stamp proposal warrants debate

Published 2:04 am Wednesday, February 21, 2018

I am ambivalent concerning the President Trump’s proposal to change the federal government’s food stamp program (SNAP) to one that replaces many the food stamp charge card with government delivered food packages directly delivered to households.

Opposers of the President’s proposal cite many arguments. Ethnic groups have different desires in types of food; the issue of fresh food (fruits, etc.) has not been specifically addressed, children require different types of food than elderly people; and government should not reduce the recipient’s personal choices. Supporters of the proposal say the Federal government can deliver food more effectively and more cost-efficiently than major food retailers, such as the most powerful chain store in America, that gain substantial corporate profits from the current SNAP program.

Food stamp benefits, which total about $80 B per year, are more than three times what our federal government spends on its highway system and bridges. The President’s proposal saves so much money over the current system, money which can be better spent on the country as a whole.

I almost always lean to the case of personal responsibility versus government responsibility. However, being a legitimate food stamp recipient myself during hard times, and while living in the most homeless-friendly city in the USA, Portland, Ore., I have personally seen many recipients “sell” their food stamps for 25 to 50 cents on the dollar to buy cigarettes. Also, who hasn’t seen recipients buying loads of candy and potato chips for their children, one of six who are defined as obese?

Like driver’s licenses, food stamps are not a right, they are a privilege. I don’t necessarily agree with the president’s proposal, but it does warrant debate on its merits.

Walter Boyd, P.E.