OPINION: Cuts to SNAP may be mitigated by donating to local food banks

Mason students can help mitigate the cuts to the food stamp programs by donating to local food banks (Photo by John Irwin).
Mason students can help mitigate the cuts to the food stamp programs by donating to local food banks (Photo by John Irwin).

For many Americans, November brings thoughts of a gluttonous holiday meal. But, for those Americans enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly referred to as SNAP, November brings a kick in the face reminder of their poverty.

On Nov. 1, a recession era boost in benefits expired, thus approximately 47 million people will have to cope with reduced food stamps just as the holiday season begins. The general consensus within the GOP seems to be that if the food stamp recipients work hard enough, they should be able to pull themselves out of poverty.

I challenge that notion.

As always, there are exceptions. But many recipients are simply victims of the almost inescapable cycle of poverty. With the newly increased struggle for food, the government is not giving the poor a necessary push; they are just throwing a heavier weight on their back.  

Fairfax County hosts the third highest amount of food stamp recipients in the state of Virginia, with 28,835 individuals relying on benefits to purchase food. In contrast to the wealthy Northern Virginia stereotype, Fairfax is filled with families struggling to make ends meet.

Robinson Square is a public housing complex directly across from the Field House off of University Drive. I’m sure all of us have driven past it at a point; maybe you think of it as that neighborhood that students tend to park in when the Field House lot is full. Every single family in Robinson Square relies on food stamps. Many of the people whom reside there are refugees. They are not people who have failed to “try hard enough,” they are working to create a safer life for themselves in the so called “land of the free.” 

I personally have been exposed to many different opinions regarding the food stamp cuts. The majority of those I speak to seem to be against them as well, citing food as a basic right, but a few raise a point similar to that of the GOP: Why should our tax dollars pay for someone else’s misfortune?

My response: Stories of suffering individuals in developing countries rarely fail to catch American’s eyes, but our own poor get brushed under the table. The recession has left many in a whirlpool of unemployment and financial instability.

Food stamps alleviate some stress and allow our own people an opportunity to get back on their feet. How do you expect a person to go to job interviews and develop a great resume when they can’t feed their own family?

 Food stamps also predominantly benefit children, the disabled, and the elderly. The word “children” catches my eye because their socioeconomic status is completely out of their own control, and, in the field of global health, it is a well-known concept that properly nourished children are much more likely to grow into healthy, well-educated adults who will possess the ability to excel in the workforce and contribute to the economy.

So, Patriots, if you want to do your part to counteract the recent food stamp cuts, food banks in Fairfax are going to experience a huge increase in demand, thus donations will surely be appreciated. Poverty is not as crystal clear as many tend to view it. There are always those who are at fault for their own struggles, but many are stuck in a deep ditch. A consistent meal on the table is one step towards improvement.  


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