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February 22, 2024

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Relying on food stamps should not cause shame or stigmatize

Last week, a study was released claiming nearly half of all children in the United States will receive food stamps by the time they are 20 years old. This news comes as the amount of food stamp recipients has risen in numerous cities and states during this economic crisis. It’s becoming increasingly common for families and individuals – such as recent college graduates – to rely on food stamps to get by, yet there remains a shame attached to benefiting from these programs. It can seem as though a person is lazy for receiving food stamps, but this is not always the case. It’s extremely likely that someone we know has received them at some point in their lives. Hopefully, the fact that recipients are more common will remove some of the associated stigma.

Signing up for welfare programs is not guaranteeing you a life of poverty. In today’s economy, it’s likely that people will need to take low-paying jobs in order to support their family. With any luck, these jobs will be temporary, and people will be able to secure a financially stable job in due time.

However, in the meantime, families may struggle and food stamps can be a crutch for those experiencing hard times. As the Associated Press story about the study points out, it’s likely many of these children were on food stamps for a period of a few months at a time, not necessarily for their whole childhood. Food stamps aren’t the cure-all for financial hardships, but if they can help families pay their mortgage, they shouldn’t be viewed as an unnecessary government expense.

Too often in America, there is a strong stigma attached to people who have to rely on welfare in order to survive. The stereotypical image of a ‘welfare queen’ abusing the system can make it seem as though food stamps and similar programs are breeding a lack of independence and motivation to succeed. While there are certainly people who take advantage of welfare programs, it is not fair to assume that every person who has relied on food stamps at some point in their lives did so in order to take advantage of the system.

Similarly, there is an idea that being on food stamps is shameful. Half of American children cannot help it that their socio-economic status put them below the poverty line at some point in their lives, if not for their entire lives. That means that in any classroom in America, it’s likely that at least one student may not even be in school without the assistance of food stamps to keep food on their table and keep them from starving.

Relying on food stamps may not be something to brag about, but people should not be mocked or judged for something that is more common than we may think.

While they can be helpful, food stamps can be problematic in many ways. Research has shown that it may promote poor eating habits due to an inability to afford higher priced, higher quality fresh food, especially when buying a month’s worth of groceries at once with the allotted allowance.

It can hurt local communities as well. A CNN article analyzing the lack of chain grocers within the Detroit city limits hinted that stores could not sustain themselves once customers rushed to the stores at the beginning of the month. This happens because so many customers would shop once their monthly food stamp allowance came, which would leave the stores without a customer base for the rest of the month.

This shows that the economy is so poor in many places that being on food stamps is the norm, not a shameful rarity. It isn’t a great reflection of our nation’s economic situation, but it shows that there are more families relying on food stamps than one may believe.

It’s a sad state of affairs that so many children in America are forced to deal with such a crisis, and, with any luck, the financial situations of families will improve so they can lessen or eliminate the need for food stamps. In the meantime, we should all be less judgmental toward those who rely on food stamps in order to survive. There are more people living off of them right now that it may seem and not all of them are taking advantage of the system.

Hopefully studies like these can help to reveal the reality of the American economic crisis and show that a lot of people are in the same sinking boat, doing what they can to survive.

Respond to Marisha by commenting below or by emailing to [email protected]

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