November 4th, 2009

I have to admit that I was surprised when I read this editorial in the Florence Times Daily today that half of all American children receive food stamps assistance sometime during their lifetime.  Half.  Wow.

Here’s the full text of the editorial and a link to the underlying study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine:

Kids in poverty

A new report shows about half of all U.S. children will be on food stamps at some point during childhood, whether it be for a month, six months or years.

Food stamps are among the welfare programs that many middle class and wealthy Americans like to bash.

But they do so at their own risk. If the person to whom they are complaining is 40 or younger, there’s about a 50 percent chance he or she survived on food stamps at one point in life.

About 49 percent of all U.S. children are on food stamps at some point during childhood, according to a study released in the November issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. That includes 37 percent of white children and 90 percent of black children.

“Your neighbor may be using some of these programs but it’s not the kind of thing people want to talk about,” said Mark Rank, lead author of the study and a sociologist at Washington University in St. Louis.

Food stamps are available for low-income people and families, covering most foods, but not prepared hot foods or alcohol. The income for a family of four cannot exceed about $22,000 to receive this help.

Yes, there are abuses, but the average monthly benefit is $222 so no one is getting rich off food stamps. And while many children benefit from the program, children are not among the abusers of food stamps.

The federal program is especially important in a poor state such as Alabama, where many adults struggle to feed their families. And during the current recession, with high employment rates, food stamps are even more critical.

So if you enjoy bashing welfare programs, be careful before you criticize this one in front of other people.

This is one of those cases in which “them” is “us.”

Posted by Kristina Scott