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Researcher: It’s Free, Swipe Yo EBT

May 28, 2013 by  

Researcher: It’s Free, Swipe Yo EBT

It is a common belief, held by top officials in the Administration of Barack Obama as well as a number of American academics, that the key to ending poverty is enabling it.

A University of Illinois researcher, in a paper funded by ConAgra Foods, opines that American efforts to alleviate food insecurity should include encouraging more people to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), aka food stamps, “because it works.”

“We already know that SNAP leads to reductions in food insecurity, and poverty, and there is no evidence that it leads to obesity,” researcher Craig Gundersen said. “We need to make it easier for people to apply for the program, to recertify once they’re in the program, and to increase benefits, especially for those who are at the lower end of the benefits structure.”

The researcher holds the belief — in line with rhetoric from the Obama Administration — that reducing the stigma associated with being on food stamps should be an important goal of American policymakers.

“There is a perception among some that people who receive SNAP benefits are lazy — this has historically been the reason for stigma in SNAP,” Gundersen said. “In recent years, the stigma associated with SNAP participation has shifted toward a prejudice against people who are overweight. You hear a lot of anecdotal evidence that people who are overweight may be uncomfortable using SNAP. They feel like people are judging them for buying food. If we could become a society that doesn’t judge others about their weight, we could reduce stigma.”

Gunderson also defends the use of food stamp benefits for low, or no, nutrition foods — he compares telling welfare recipients what is and isn’t an acceptable purchase with assistance to telling a working American how to spend an earned paycheck.

“Stores would have to add a lot of expensive signage and reconfigure cash registers to read new bar codes on foods that may or may not be eligible for SNAP. And who would make those decisions? It’s also just patronizing and offensive to poor people; it’s telling them that because they don’t know how to shop for their family, we’ll tell you how to shop and what’s best for them. When I worked for the federal government, no one told me how to spend my paycheck, and Social Security recipients aren’t told how they can spend their money,” he said.

After all, it isn’t as if food stamp abuse is a prevalent and widely recognized problem in America.

Here’s a satirical video that points out many of the problems with the researcher’s aforementioned assertion that America should encourage more people to use food stamps:

Sam Rolley

Staff writer Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After learning about many of the biases present in most modern newsrooms, Rolley became determined to find a position in journalism that would allow him to combat the unsavory image that the news industry has gained. He is dedicated to seeking the truth and exposing the lies disseminated by the mainstream media at the behest of their corporate masters, special interest groups and information gatekeepers.

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