Back in the seventies, my dad brought some delicious cheese home from our local town. "They were giving this cheese out in front of the courthouse so I picked some up," he said. The cheese was all part of the so-called fight against poverty. My dad was a hard-working, coal mining man so we had food to eat. However, who is going to turn down free cheese? The cheese was actually pretty good.
Processed cheese developed by James L. Kraft of Illinois in 1916 became a mass-production of Colby and cheddar with curds and emulsifiers that tasted good and had a very long shelf life. The cheese would become a staple of the American diet but also a symbol of American poverty. Through the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program, a significant portion of America's low income people were eating cheese packaged and distributed by our government.
The seventies were a while back but today we are hearing that America is going to advance to a new solution for feeding our hungry. The current administration is proposing that America help the hungry with government-picked, nonperishable food every month instead of food stamps or at least replacing some of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program known as SNAP. Of course this sounds better than passing out cheese to low income families. Digestive systems respond differently to the intake of cheese. Distributing healthy food to low income families sounds interesting. We all need to eat healthy.
When I was a child, my first encounter with helping out the hurting was watching advertisements on television about donating for CARE packages to the poor in other countries. We now are hearing about a CARE package from Uncle Sam to America's low income people. I do not know what the packages will contain but I have heard canned fruit, chicken or fish, beans and among other things peanut butter. You can never go wrong with peanut butter. What about nuts? I've heard a handful of nuts every day are good for you. What about salmon? Alaska has a lot of salmon. I would like to see more wild Alaska salmon distributed in America instead all the farm raised salmon, which is not supposed to be very healthy.
Unfortunately, I don't think the CARE package to America's low income families is the solution to saving America. The idea behind this new endeavor is to cut America's costs. We are trillions of dollars in debt and now the current administration with this new budget is recommending increasing our debt even more to so we can increase defense spending. I'm not opposed to increasing our defense spending. I am very opposed to all of the wars in the Middle East and nation-building which is driving us further into debt. Why would we jump on America's most vulnerable hurting people to solve our nation's economic woes?
I agree the food stamp or SNAP program needs help. The overhaul should limit Americans to five years of lifetime use of the program. No one should be allowed to buy soda pop, cookies and candy on the program. I suppose ice cream might be okay. The emphasis should be buying healthy food at the stores. Americans are already very obese and buying junk food through the SNAP program is adding to America's debilitation. I also hear stories of Americans buying a lot of soda pop and selling it cheap for cash to buy drugs. There definitely must be some reform on how much junk food can be bought through the SNAP program.
Sending low income Americans a box of food or requiring them to line up at a government distribution center reminds me of something I've seen on television maybe like from Russia or Germany. Are we going to force our poor to line up and get their food rations for the month?
I think the idea of America's corporations paying less in tax dollars should be good for America if it will keep factories in our country. I agree with this move. We need the jobs. However, if we are going to make up the difference by cutting back on Social Security, Medicare and SNAP recipients then we are not a very good people. The idea of corporations paying less in taxes is to stimulate our economy which should mean more cash flow, more tax dollars to help our nation and more money to pay down our debt if that's how we are going to use the extra money.
Charities across America give out water, food baskets and used clothing. Most of them provide a respectful service. The government of the United States of America can do better by our poor than a monthly box of food.
Glenn Mollette is an American syndicated columnist and author.
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