November 5, 2013
IS FAST FOOD so vital to the nation that taxpayers should spend $7 billion a year to supplement the industry's profits? Imagine the outcry if that was proposed. And yet a study by economists at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and the University of California at Berkeley's Labor Center says that it's already happening. Seven billion dollars a year is what it costs taxpayers for Medicaid, food stamps and the other public assistance programs for fast-food workers who are paid poverty-level wages.
November 5, 2013 |
THE SALVATION Army last year commissioned a poll assessing Americans' attitudes about the poor. More than one in four - 27 percent - said they believe that people are poor because they are lazy, not because they chose their parents unwisely or were hammered by forces beyond their control. By sheer coincidence, that 27-percent finding dovetails nicely with the Gallup Poll's recent report that 28 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the Republican Party. It's also close to the 25 percent who told the Huffington Post/YouGov poll this summer that they believe that aliens have visited planet Earth, and the 25 percent who told the Pew Religion and Public Life Project in 2009 that they believe in astrology.
November 2, 2013 |
At the stroke of midnight on Halloween, food-stamp benefits were cut throughout America for the first time in history. People woke up Friday in unknown territory, having to figure how the loss of $5 billion in benefits - the equivalent of 1.9 billion meals nationwide in fiscal 2014 alone - will play out on the kitchen tables of the 47 million Americans who get food stamps. "This is nothing short of catastrophic," said Bill Clark, executive director of Philabundance, the largest hunger-relief agency in the region.
November 1, 2013 |
The manager of a Camden store pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of fraudulently redeeming nearly $3 million in food stamp benefits. Alexander Vargas, 34, who managed Eddie's Grocery, accepted a plea agreement Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a news release. Vargas faces up to 10 years in prison, but is likely to serve less, according to a spokesman for the office. Vargas was a cosigner on the store's account beginning February 2012.
October 30, 2013
LAST week, Gov. Corbett signaled that he may reconsider his administration's policy to require asset tests for food-stamp applicants. This followed comments from recently appointed Department of Public Welfare chief Beverly Mackereth that she was less interested in testing assets of applicants than getting food stamps to those who need them. That's a refreshing sea change from former DPW chief Gary Alexander, who was responsible for the policy, claiming that he was trying to curb waste, fraud and abuse in the program - although he was alone in thinking that the program attracts fraud.
October 25, 2013 |
PHILADELPHIA Gov. Corbett said Wednesday he would take into consideration the state public welfare secretary's announcement that she was "rethinking" the food-stamp asset test, a measure that links federal benefits people receive to their bank accounts and car ownership. He made the comments when asked about the issue at a news conference promoting his "Healthy Pennsylvania" initiative. On Tuesday, Department of Public Welfare Secretary Beverly Mackereth told members of The Inquirer Editorial Board she was rethinking the asset test, adding: "My focus is not on waste.
October 24, 2013 |
A Corbett administration official said she is "rethinking" the food-stamp asset test, a controversial measure that ties the federal benefits people receive to their bank accounts and car ownership. Department of Public Welfare Secretary Beverly Mackereth made the statement during a meeting with The Inquirer's editorial board Tuesday. Her remark represents a potential sea change in how the administration views dealing with the poor, advocates say. "We are thrilled," said Julie Zaebst, policy manager for the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger.
October 14, 2013 |
The electronic system retailers use to process food stamps shut down Saturday, affecting shoppers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and 15 other states. Officials at Xerox, which runs the Electronic Benefits Transfer system, said it crashed during a routine test Saturday morning. The system lets retailers process Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Women, Infants and Children benefits from customers. The shutdown potentially affected hundreds of thousands of families across the region who buy food with EBT cards.
October 4, 2013 |
ON A RECENT sunny afternoon in Brewerytown, a white terry-cloth towel lay on the sidewalk, hiding the blood of an 18-year-old kid gunned down the night before. Along the narrow block, chalk circles drawn by homicide cops marked spots where the shell casings fell. A woman seated on a lawn chair on the sidewalk nearby looked up warily and called out, "You looking for a story?" She pointed out the cracked-open sunflower seeds, lots of them, scattered among the crime-scene chalk marks.
October 3, 2013 |
As parts of the U.S. government shut down Tuesday, thousands of federal workers in the area were furloughed, hikers were barred from Valley Forge trails, and tourists eager to view the icons of American freedom were compelled to photograph the Liberty Bell through thick glass. The 46,880 federal employees in the Philadelphia and Camden metropolitan areas were asked to report to work Tuesday, with many furloughed without pay by the afternoon. But confusion in some federal offices remained, as several workers still on the job were not sure whether they would be designated as essential and told to report to work Wednesday.