TEApublicans love to talk about the “welfare queen” loading her lobster and crab legs into her Cadillac Escalade and going home to enjoy it in front of her 50 inch plasma TV. The working poor have it too easy. They’re lazy, living an opulent lifestyle. This scenario is how they have justified the latest round of draconian cuts to the SNAP program, the truth, of course is something far different.
Sara Grier is a single mother of four living in Charlotte, North Carolina. She works 30 hours a week for $11 an hour at the only job she can find, her yearly income is $17,000, 61.66% of the federal poverty level for a family of five.
She has been receiving $500 per month in SNAP (food stamps) benefits to help feed her children. She is not an extravagant shopper. She buys meats which are on sale and carefully watches what she buys — stretching her food dollars to the limit. Ramen noodles are a common lunch, she carefully measures out a half bowl of cereal for each child’s breakfast and counts out an exact number of chicken nuggets when that is the meat for the evening meal or lunch.
She recently received notice that her new SNAP benefit, beginning this month will be reduced — to $16!
While most are looking at a 5% reduction Sara for some incomprehensible reason is looking at a cut of 96.8%!
She says, “I never thought that it would hit my home.”
Nor should it have hit her home, the poverty level as defined by the federal government for a family of five is $27,570 and there are those who would say that is an inaccurate number. The formula has remain unchanged since it was first devised in the 1960s when the cost of food as a percentage of the cost of living was used to set the level at which a family falls into poverty.
At that time a family spent approximately one third of their monthly budget on food so to determine poverty level the cost of food was multiplied by three setting the level for the poverty line. Today food accounts for one sixth of the monthly budget meaning that if the original formula was used, rather than simply allowing for inflation which is how we arrive at the current federal poverty level the cost of food should be multiplied by six rather than three, for a family of four the line would be set at $41,000 rather than the $23,500 at which it is now set.
But all of that is meaningless to Sara and her four children, they are wondering how they are going to eat on $16 per month and how it is possible that they were hit so much harder than logic says they should have been.
When the local NBC affiliate learned of Sara’s plight they contacted the state where the official they spoke to expressed shock that this had happened and referred them to the Mecklenburg County DSS which promised to look into the situation. Lets hope that they are able to resolve this injustice before Sara and her children miss even one of their already meager meals.
More info on Federal Poverty Guidelines: CLICK HERE