May 17, 2013 |
A Camden grocery store manager was arrested Thursday and charged with stealing more than $1 million from taxpayers in a food-stamp scheme. Alexander D. Vargas, 34, allegedly bought food stamps for 50 cents on the dollar and pocketed the other 50 cents after redeeming the food stamps without selling any food, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. It is unlawful to exchange food-stamp benefits for cash. Vargas managed the former Eddie's Grocery on the 1500 block of Mount Ephraim Avenue in the city's Whitman Park section, officials said.
May 17, 2013
THE CAUSES of poverty are complex and many. One cause, though, is emerging as a dominant factor in the record numbers of people living in poverty: Congress. This week, both the Senate and the House moved on a new farm bill, which determines the budget and policies for agriculture every five years or so. In addition to agriculture, it also funds the food-stamp program. On Wednesday, the House Agriculture Committee approved a $940 billion farm bill, a day after the Senate approved its own version.
May 9, 2013
KEVIN METZ says in a letter that the governor's comments are taken out of context and he doesn't mean what most people (probably Democrats) think he means. So, Kevin, what do you think he really meant when he cut food stamps for the poor? What do you think he really meant when he cut school funding? What do you think he really meant when he endorsed the voter-ID law? What do you think he really meant when he said he wouldn't endorse any taxes on the gas-drilling companies? What do you think he really meant by rejecting funding from the federal government for medical-insurance costs?
May 8, 2013
Instead of helping people who have fallen on hard times, Pennsylvania made it harder for them to get food stamps, and hundreds of families may be going hungry at times as a result. The state imposed an assets test to determine food-stamp eligibility a year ago. Since then, nearly 4,000 households have lost or been denied benefits after being deemed too wealthy. Another 111,000 households were rejected for failing to provide proper documentation for the test. Advocates for the poor say the assets-appraisal formula being used by the state Department of Public Welfare does more harm than good.
May 3, 2013 |
One year ago this week, Pennsylvania tied eligibility for food stamps to the assets people possess. Since then, nearly 4,000 households have lost or were denied benefits because they had too many financial resources, according to the Department of Public Welfare. In that same time, many more people - around 111,000 households - were denied benefits because they failed to provide proper documentation for the asset test. Advocates for the poor now say that by weeding out a relatively small number of people with too many assets, the Department of Public Welfare made getting food stamps so complicated that deserving low-income people became inundated by paperwork and lost their benefits.
March 27, 2013
YOUR RECENT editorial criticizing the asset test for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) left out many of the facts and wrongly implied that Gov. Corbett has a vision of "lazy BMW-driving scamsters" using food stamps. Although there are undoubtedly many misperceptions about those who rely on human services, the SNAP program asset test throws them out the window. Instead, it uses hard data to assure taxpayers that their money is being used only by those most in need.
March 25, 2013
It is unconscionable that Philadelphia has more people in what's called deep poverty than any other city among the nation's 10 largest. Almost 13 percent of city residents earn less than $5,700 a year for individuals, or $11,700 for a family of four, according to an analysis by The Inquirer and Temple University sociologist David Elesh. Poverty-line earners are paid twice as much, making these 200,000 Philadelphians the poorest of the poor. Unfortunately for them, the Corbett administration's disturbing economic policies have made it even harder for the poor to provide for their families.
March 23, 2013 |
Claiming they were cheated out of pay, 145 current and former school bus drivers have sued First Student Management L.L.C., a contractor that operates routes for many local districts, including Cherry Hill and the Camden County Educational Services Commission. The suit was filed in federal court in Camden on Thursday. Tim Stokes, a spokesman for Ohio-based First Student Inc., declined to comment. The lawsuit says First Student requires each driver to report to the bus yard at a certain time, but does not begin paying the driver until after the employee's badge is swiped at the bus. At the end of their trips, drivers swipe their badges again, but must continue to work "off the clock," the lawsuit says, inspecting the bus, cleaning it, reporting problems, and checking to make sure there are no children asleep on it. According to the lawsuit, when First Student lands a contract, it creates an "estimated route time.
March 20, 2013 |
Philadelphia has the highest rate of deep poverty - people with incomes below half of the poverty line - of any of the nation's 10 most populous cities. The annual salary for a single person at half the poverty line is around $5,700; for a family of four, it's around $11,700. Philadelphia's deep-poverty rate is 12.9 percent, or around 200,000 people. Phoenix, Chicago, and Dallas are the nearest to Philadelphia, with deep-poverty rates of more than 10 percent. The numbers come from an examination of the 2009 through 2011 three-year estimate of the U.S. Census American Community Survey by The Inquirer and Temple University sociologist David Elesh.
March 19, 2013
A FOOD STAMP is not an actual stamp. It's a plastic ATM-like card loaded with a dollar value of, on average, $66 a week. A food stamp is also a litmus test that divides two groups: those who see food stamps as a government handout to lazy BMW-driving scamsters, and those who see food stamps as a critical helping hand to the vulnerable. If you actually get food stamps, your view is much simpler: They may be the difference between eating and starving. When Gov. Corbett imposed a new asset test for food-stamp recipients - now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP - that went into effect last May, he seemed to side with those who assume that a high percentage of recipients are trying to scam the government.