(Cross-posted at Progressive Wednesday.)
The good governor of Oregon has done it again, thank goodness. To shed light on the inadequacies of food stamps, Gov. Kulongoski (or “The Ku-Man,” as I like to call him) is lived for a week off $21, “the same amount that the state’s average food stamp recipient spends weekly on groceries.”
Kulongoski is taking the weeklong challenge to raise awareness about the difficulty of feeding a family on a food stamp budget.
At the check-out counter, Kulongoski’s purchases totaled $21.97, forcing him to give back one of the Cup O’Noodles and two bananas, for a final cost of $20.97 for 19 items.
After the hour-long shopping trip, Kulongoski said he was mindful that his week on food stamps will be finite and that thousands of others aren’t so lucky.
“I don’t care what they call it, if this is what it takes to get the word out,” Kulongoski said, in response to questions about whether the food stamp challenge was no more than a publicity stunt. “This is an issue every citizen in this state should be aware of.”
So what are the national facts about food stamps?
- There is an 8-step process to get approved for the Food Stamp Program.
- In 2005, 25.7 million people received food stamps each month. To put that in perspective, that’s 6 million more people than live in all of New York.
- 40% of food stamp recipients live in households with an income. They work, people. They work. In fact, only 15% of all households receiving food stamps collected TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), sometimes incorrectly referred to as “welfare.”
- In 2005, 54% of the households receiving food stamps contained children.
This, of course, raises the larger problem of poverty in America. Simply put, it’s hard to pursue happiness when you’re dirt poor. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau: “The number of people below the official poverty thresholds numbered 35.9 million in 2003, or 1.3 million more than in 2002.” Imagine if every single person in California lived in poverty. I think we’d do something about it. I think we’d stop ignoring it.