May 11, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - Farmers markets are a popular source of reasonably priced fresh produce, but across the country many accept only cash or checks - a big problem for low-income shoppers using food stamps. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is trying to change that. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan this week announced a $4 million grant for states to help implement wireless technology that will allow more farmers markets to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, or food stamps.
May 9, 2012 |
LAST MONTH, we photoshopped Gov. Corbett on our cover as the Tinman from the Wizard of Oz, complete with the oil-funnel hat. We were questioning whether the governor has a heart; the accompanying story, by Michael Hinkelman and Catherine Lucey, detailed how Corbett's welfare department had swept 89,000 kids off the benefit rolls , tens of thousands of them erroneously. Corbett didn't like our cover. He told WPHT's Dom Giordano that "everyone who knows me knows that I have a heart.
May 5, 2012 |
It's hard enough to feed a family on food stamps, but this week Pennsylvania made it harder when it imposed an unreasonable asset test. Flunking the asset test means going without food stamps, even if an individual or family meets the threshold of earning no more than 160 percent of the poverty level. Households with people under age 60 are limited to $5,500 in assets. Households with people 60 and above are limited to $9,000. Houses, retirement benefits and one car are not counted, but a second car worth more than $4,650 would be. That means a family struggling to string together part-time jobs is penalized if the parents need separate cars to get to work.
May 2, 2012 |
I've learned plenty of lessons while taking the weeklong Food Stamp Challenge. Talk about a roller-coaster. A weekly food budget of only $35 had my feelings running the gamut, from hunger to resentment, pressure to determination, and finally just plain ole orneriness. But no matter how hollow and angry I got, the one permanent takeaway I'll have is a profound sense of gratitude. Grateful that I'm able to eat whatever I want. Grateful that I can afford fresh fruits and vegetables.
May 1, 2012 |
GREAT NEWS, KIDS, your Legislature's back this week after a nice long break for Easter and the primary, and, boy, it sounds as if lawmakers are really ready to work. High on the list: fiscal responsibility, private-sector job creation and cuts in business taxes. Did you just stand and cheer? Why not? Don't you think if businesses pay lower taxes, they all go out and hire the jobless and underemployed? And just in time, too, because starting Tuesday, the state — in ongoing efforts to cut waste, fraud and abuse — is going after people on food stamps.
April 28, 2012 |
HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania Public Welfare Department will start asking food-stamp recipients next week to prove they do not have significant personal assets in order to qualify for benefits. Advocates for the poor say the new policy will be expensive to administer and hurt families for whom the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program can be a lifeline. It goes into effect Tuesday, but it will be about six months before the department knows how many have lost benefits. "The majority who will lose benefits - the significant majority - are seniors and people with disabilities," Julie Zaebst, policy center manager for the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, said Friday.
April 23, 2012 |
As families face cuts and other changes to the federal food-stamp program, Philadelphia-area residents are learning what it's like to live for a week on $5 a day, the average benefit for an individual. On Monday, elected officials and community members were to take up the Greater Philadelphia Food Stamp Challenge sponsored by the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. Allotted just $35 for a week of food, participants will learn firsthand the anxiety-driven calculus of finding nutrition with nearly no money.
April 22, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - The Senate has begun laying the groundwork for a half-trillion-dollar farm and food bill that would end unconditional subsidies to farmers, but House Republicans' resolve to cut its biggest component - food stamps - by $13 billion a year dims its prospects of passing Congress. The current five-year farm bill expires at the end of September, and the Senate Agriculture Committee on Friday released a draft of its plan to redesign safety nets that help farmers weather bad times while achieving $23 billion in deficit reduction.
April 20, 2012 |
I'm racking my brain trying to come up with creative ways to eat three square meals on $35 a week. Will $5 a day fill me up? Provide the occasional fruit or vegetable? Can I even stretch $35 over seven days before my money gets funny and my stomach starts to growl? Well, starting Monday, I'll find out by taking the Greater Philadelphia Food Stamp Challenge. With the mean-spirited, totally unnecessary asset test looming May 1 - you know, the Corbett administration mandate that punishes people with more than $5,500 in savings (for those 60 and over it's $9,000)
April 20, 2012
AFTER LAST Friday's column on Gov. Corbett's plan to start means-testing food-stamp recipients on May 1, I conclude there is class warfare in America. Not poor against rich, as some Republicans complain, but by some in the middle class against the poor. The column concerned John Manton, 64, a Roxborough widower with a master's degree in library science. Unemployed for a year, he's jobless because computers have rendered his skills obsolete, and gets $37.25 in food stamps weekly.