Cheryl was part of a church health and nutrition ministry and also an advocate for the rights of senior citizens from 1989-1992.
A Box of Food Instead of a Card
Decades ago, welfare recipients received actual paper food stamps. Families were often ostracized by other shoppers who scrutinized what they purchased. Today, those who benefit from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) receive an EBT card, which looks and works the same way as a bank debit card. This was beneficial in reducing the stigma associated with food stamps. Now the United States government wants to do something that will once again strip the dignity of those who qualify for assistance. They want to give needy Americans a Harvest Box that has food items that have been chosen by others. The box would be given in addition to current EBT benefits but the value would decrease the dollar amount of what is currently on the card. It's possible that, in the future, the box would replace the EBT benefits altogether.
Food stamps and EBT cards allowed individuals to shop like any other American and choose for themselves the items they would put on their table. Each person can purchase grocery store items that were to their personal liking or a diet based on medical needs. Giving U.S. citizens a box of pre-packaged items takes away their ability to decide for themselves what they want to eat. This may be harmful to diabetics or those on salt-restricted diets. Giving everyone a jar of peanut butter will be dangerous for those with peanut allergies and wasteful because they normally would not be buying this product.
Government Assistance or Control?
The government wants U.S. citizens to believe that the Harvest Box is a way to ensure better nutrition, but do they have the right to decrease SNAP benefits and replace them with food items an individual may not desire or can't eat for health reasons? Is this idea truly about our elected officials attempting to help the disadvantaged, or a way to control what some Americans get to eat? Every person working on Capitol Hill gets a hefty salary, compliments of the taxpayers. They dine at the finest restaurants of their own choosing and have the free will to eat what they want from the menu. If they were to suddenly become disadvantaged and qualify for an EBT card, would they want someone else picking out the food items they were allowed to eat? Certainly not.
Most of those within the Senate and Congress, along with the President and Vice President, say they are Christians, which indicates they are supposed to follow the principles of the Bible. In trying to limit and control what needy Americans eat, these men and women should remember the golden rule of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This comes from Matthew 7:12, which reads in the King James version: "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."
Government Surplus Was Degrading
Many decades ago, Americans who received welfare benefits could also obtain government surplus food. In the state of Virginia, this consisted of a large box of sharp cheddar cheese and a big can of pork meat which resembled spam. I remember once being at the home of someone whose family got these supplements. I ate some of the cheese and it was pretty good, but the meat was slimy and so salty that I got sick, I remember thinking to myself that this was not even worthy to give to my dog and cats, but the government believed that humans should consume it. A few weeks back I picked up a box for someone at a local food pantry and was shocked to see the cans of Pork are back.
The children of the families who received this food were often teased by other boys and girls about eating welfare food. Surely those old enough to remember those days will recall the shame and embarrassment when the government starts giving out the Harvest boxes. This is why the SNAP program should continue with the EBT cards and allow Americans the dignity of picking out the foods that they want their family to eat. The U.S. government should never take away the free will of the citizens just because they are in a low-income bracket and qualify for assistance.
Break the Chains
When the government controls what people eat, it is a form of bondage. This is not very American to those who have worked 30 or 40 years only to retire with not enough income to live on. Those who cannot work because of disabilities should not have to feel as if they are somehow beneath other Americans. If the Harvest box were truly a way to supplement SNAP benefits, it would be in addition to them and not deducted from the accounts of recipients. Many who receive food stamps also go to food pantries because what they receive is not enough to feed their families. If they will now have the value of a Harvest box decrease the dollar amount on their EBT card, they will have even less.
Many Americans are now on restricted diets for health reasons and what's in the Harvest box may not be on their list of foods they can eat. This wastes the money spent on the food in the box and also leaves the SNAP recipient at a disadvantage. Cardinal Roger Mahony is said to have stated the following in 1998, "Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members; the last, the least, the littlest." Americans should take heed lest our wealthy elected officials take the attitude of the old game show where the host said, "You are the weakest link, goodbye," or have the sentiment of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, where he said, "Better to decrease the surplus population and let them die." The chains of governmental oppression need to be broken and this alleged "Christian" nation should care for the least of these as Jesus stated in Matthew chapter 25.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Cheryl E Preston
Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on January 18, 2020:
Wanda on January 18, 2020:
Many people no longer eat foods that come from cans, preferring to cook their meals fresh..NO, beggars can't be choosy, but, putting together a box to supply nutritional needs will hurt local food pantries and other programs that help those in need when the 16.00 in food stamps some people get is gone.
Grace Marguerite Williams from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on March 13, 2019:
I am of the school that if you believe in eating what you want, you should be working to do this. In my opinion, if the government is providing assistance, they should choose what you eat. Remember, beggars can't be choosers.