SNAP - We Must Do Better

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 "If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it."   

- Stephen Colbert

 Maybe you, too, have seen these words from the usually sarcastic Stephen Colbert floating around the internet.  While we love Colbert for his wit and charatcer, I also admire his more profound and often prophet side.   Sometimes, his words sting  not for their sarcasm, but for their truth.  Like now, for example.

Today, members of the House of Representatives passed a bill which would cut funding for food stamps by $40 billion over 10 years and remove close to 4 million eligible recipients from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  While this bill is unlikely to pass in the Senate, even if nothing is done to change the current law, thanks (or no thanks) to scheduled cuts, families will receive a significantly smaller amount each month to put food on the table come November.


Image Credit: TheeErin via Flickr


And, so, in the coming days and weeks, the state of our welfare system and the fairness of food stamps are likely to be major topics of discussion, not only in Washington, but also in social media.

We've seen it before and we're about to see it once again. So, excuse me for a moment while I pull out my soap box.

(Cue sound of actual box being dragged out from under the table and the thu-rump of my jumping upon it.)

Okay. I'm ready now.

(Straightens hair and adjusts shirt.)

Thank you.


Friends, please.  Please?  How about we resist the urge to update our Facebook statuses in the coming weeks with a judgement of what someone else in the grocery check-out aisle did (or did not) buy while they were (or were not) wearing a certain brand/nail color/purse while they did (or did not) use food stamps (aka, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP).  Please.

Because the next time I see one of those posts, or one of those calls for mandatory drug screening for welfare recipients, I think I might scream.  Well, that is sort of a lie.  Because I'm pretty sure that the last time I saw such a status, I did just that.  I screamed.  At my computer.  Out loud.

I mean, come on.  My kids are gonna start to worry about their mama if I don't step away from the computer screen.

I'm trying hard to rant out of love.  I'm not doing very well.  I know, I need a vacation.  (Or maybe just a vacation from Facebook.)

And I need to be a better Christian, there's that too.

But I know you've seen them:

"Stood in line today while someone bought a candy bar with their food stamps."

"Must be nice to have a Prada bag to carry that SNAP card."

"Can someone tell me why the man in front of me just paid for his cigarettes with cash and then pulled out the food stamps for his bread?"

Seriously.  All. The. Time.  Enough with the grocery aisle policing already.   Please?

Because, you know what I saw the last time I stood in line behind someone with food stamps at the grocery store?


A mother, father, and an infant in line at 11:00 PM on a Friday night.  They lined the belt with rows of baby food and diapers.

(Speculate with me for just a moment, here.  But, perhaps after mom or dad's work shift ended, this family could use their shared vehicle to get to the store.  Perhaps it was late because someone works a second job but is still part of the working poor.  Perhaps the child was still awake and at the store because he was too hungry to fall asleep.  Perhaps he came along so he could eat as soon as the baby food jar was scanned and the SNAP card was swiped.) 

Oh, and I'm pretty sure the food stamps didn't cover the diapers.  They didn't cover that candy bar either.

Yes, I just did a whole lot of assuming and supposing there.  But, we also do a whole lot of that judgement stuff when we comment on what the person was wearing and what else they purchased besides their milk and bread.  And it's time we stop it.  Period.

I yield to the compelling words of David R. Henson as to perhaps, why, we might consider muting our judgement and changing our actions if we are to call ourselves Christians.


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