Recently, a Hispanic couple purchased bananas using a public health program called WIC (The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children). WIC provides states with federal grants for supplemental food items, such as milk, eggs, cereal, fruits and vegetables to low-income pregnant and postpartum women, infants and children under the age of 5. It also provides nutrition education.
The Hispanic couple used a voucher to purchase bananas for their young daughter. An older white man waited behind them, dressed in his Sunday best. He was upset they used a government voucher to purchase the bananas.
He threw his grocery items on the conveyer and barked, “Well I guess I have to pay for mine myself because I work for a living.”
He knows nothing about the couple. He just makes an assumption.
I’ve often seen such behavior since I started working at the store, especially when customers use Food Stamps (EBT.) As a student in the Politics and Modern Cultures major in the Rural Studies program at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, I’ve been taught skills to analyze real world issues. I am in my second semester of the concentration and I decided to put those skills to use.
I conducted a survey to see who uses this program the most. The survey isn’t professionally put together. I simply noted when a customer purchased their food with EBT and what their race was. I tracked the data for one month.
I found only two Hispanic customers who used Food Stamps during the entire time frame. However, five to nine African Americans used EBT, and 10 to 15 white customers purchase their groceries with EBT on average, each day. Most of the customers using EBT wear uniforms or have on an employee identification badge.
What does this suggest? These people are working but are still considered below the poverty level. That’s why they qualify for government assistance.
I wonder how interested the man in my line would be with this information. Would he even care? Would it make a difference in his opinion? Or is he simply happy having someone to point the finger at and blame for his frustration?
It bothers me to see people with so much hatred for others.
As part of my summer exploration into political thought, my vacation reading list included "Atlas Shrugged." I appreciate the basics of the ideals Ayn Rand tries to convey and I understand her reasoning for writing the book.
She came to America in a time of prosperity, but she also witnessed the beginnings of the Great Depression. An immigrant from Russia, she knew what could happen when government gained too much power.
She believed government should stay out of the economy and should not regulate business. She believed commerce would regulate itself through a natural process.
It is easy to see why Republicans tend to like her ideas. She didn’t believe the government should provide social services. Rand is not a favorite of Democrats, who tend to support provision of social safety nets.
I kept an open mind as I read Rand’s book. I do see some very valid points to her arguments and I agree in part with some of them. It gives me food for thought. It is always good to learn different views. I wish more people would listen to the other side of the story rather than make assumptions about what they believe to be true.
I grew up in a time when the word “liberal” was not dirty. I received a liberal education. In our classroom, the teachers taught us to question things, to form our own opinions, to study and to ask why. We were evaluated on our ability to question and not so much to spout answers. The answers would come by way of establishing the issues, discovering truths, linking ideas and forging discussion.
This has changed. We no longer teach children to think. We do not encourage diversity. We have a one-size-fits-all educational system and if someone doesn’t fit we medicate, sedate or expel them.
We have grown to become a lazy society. We believe what we own defines us and the more we have, the better we are. We wear t-shirts depicting the latest reality craze.
We don’t read. We wait for news anchors to tell us what we need to know. It doesn’t matter they are owned by corporations who have staffers sitting in front of computer screens watching trend topics on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. It doesn’t matter that they play to our fears for ratings. It doesn’t matter ratings equal profit, not truth.
Social Services has helped many families in poverty by providing them with food and medical care; however, welfare has become a way of life for many. How do they get out of that way of life when it is all they know? How does anyone support their family working a minimum wage job?
One afternoon, I encountered a woman who is raising her grandchildren because their parents don’t want the responsibility. She apologizes to me and the customers behind her because she has to use WIC and EBT. She is ashamed for using the programs, but she is more ashamed of her children.
“These kids nowadays, they don’t want to do what is right,” she says. What does someone like her do? Should she not take care of her grandchildren? She lives on a fixed income. Where would the money come from for food?
I wonder if Mr. Sunday Best would listen to me when I say that I agree with him that the Food Stamps system is abused and doesn’t complete the goal it sets out to achieve. However, it does help people, including the Hispanic family who bought bananas and the grandmother feeding her children’s children.
How can we make it a temporary stepping stone and not a way of life? Next time the man in line finds himself behind someone using food stamps, I hope he’ll save his thoughts for me. I’d like to talk to that man about my great concerns with these very issues, which I share with him. We need ways of feeding children that do not encourage cultures of dependency.
But I have my doubts he would listen. I am, after all, a liberal.