By Ella Rucker:

What should your tax dollars buy?  Potato chips?  Sugary sodas?  Let’s see…

More than 46 million people depend on the government to buy them food according to data found on the site Wikipedia.  Food stamps or, to call the program by its correct government name, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), are a $65 billion a year program whereby people who qualify are somewhat given carte blanche in buying food in grocery stores and other qualifying establishments without any government monitoring.  That’s where the problem comes in.

This Cafe Mom article discusses a concern borne of the growing obesity rates in adults and children.  The SNAP program has been taking some heat over what foods can be bought with government money.  As it stands today there are very few regulations on what food stamps can buy.  You can’t buy liquor or food that can be consumed in the store (although there’s also a movement in that direction).  There are other restrictions, but not very many.

So now the government is taking a look at the kind of foods purchased with THEIR money.  Potato chips, ice cream, sodas, you know, the “junk foods” that put a smile on some of our faces and a couple of extra pounds in other places.  The federally funded program wants more control and wants to pass legislation which would list what foods can and can not be bought with SNAP benefits.

My take.  You may not know this, but this “crack assistant” that Rene has on staff is also a SNAP benefit recipient.  So this isn’t just some rhetoric.  It is a heartfelt opinion coming from someone who will be greatly affected by these changes.  Before I became part of the 46 million, I worked for twenty years.  I paid my taxes with very few if any tax breaks.  I’ve supported myself and a whole lot of other people with that money, and as I understand it, am now supporting myself.  See, my tax money went to someone who needed it then, and now someone else’s tax money is going to me who needs it now.  That’s what the welfare system is really supposed to be.  Help.  So I don’t see it as a handout so much as a hand back.  I gave it.  Gimme it back!  …and let me spend it my way on the foods I feel are best for me and my family.

My brother was once complaining about our dad, but when he was finished he said, “Ella, if someone is giving you money they have power over you.”  This has been a valuable truth I have carried with me throughout life. It is certainly true with my SNAP benefits.  As much as I said a few sentences ago that it was my money, it’s NOT my money.  At least not my money to control.  Now I can vote and protest, but until the law is changed I have to deal with whatever restrictions they put on purchasing food.  Period.  And if I want to buy a pop or nachos or candy or anything that’s not on that list, I’m going to have to figure something else out or just eat healthy.

So what do you think?  Do you have any experience with this program or any other legislation that states what is best for you and your family?  Are you tired of the government telling us what to do or are they not telling us enough?  Tell me how you really feel.