Oh SNAP.

I love America.  God has given me countless blessings in life, but two of those blessings were already mine when I took my first breath.

#1 – I was born the daughter of my wonderful parents.

#2 – I was born an American.

I feel genuinely blessed to live in this great country.  I’m free to practice my Christian faith.  I’m free to further my education if I choose.  I’m free to travel the country, free to vote, free to express an opinion.  I see such a sad, shameful problem that our government has enabled.  It started as a display of compassion, a help to those who needed it.  It has, in far too many cases, turned into a crutch and has put the brakes on motivation.

Food stamps.  SNAP.  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The number of SNAP recipients over the last few years has skyrocketed.  I know there are people who need assistance and I am all for helping them.  I truly am.  The problem is that for so many, there is no motivation.  They don’t want to even try to earn a higher income (or an income at all, in some cases), because they don’t want to be disqualified from receiving SNAP.  (I have found this to be true; I have conversations with folks on a weekly basis who have proven this.)  When a single mom would rather receive food stamps than have her child’s father pay child support to help pay for things like food, there’s a problem.  (Yes, this happens.  Often.  I’ve seen it first hand.  Often.  And unfortunately, because of current law, this is common.)  When a single mom doesn’t want the father of her child to pay child support, but is very worried about her WIC & Food Stamps, and says all she has to feed her child are a few junk food items while she herself reeks of cigarette smoke, there’s a problem.  (True story.)  There is no motivation.  Far too many people want their government entitlement programs to keep funding their lifestyles and putting food in their bellies, but have no desire to try to better themselves.  This is a problem.  This is where we are, America.  Something needs to change.  These people with no motivation could actually do more than they give themselves credit for.  They’re limiting themselves.  The EBT food stamp card is illusive.  It’s not the golden ticket.  Self sufficiency is worth so much more.  It feels better.  It tastes better – even when you’re buying the generic store brand products and grocery shopping on a tight budget.

Fraud and abuse are so out of control that I do not know how this problem could be fixed.  Government is way too big and out of control.  The government program looks much like the government itself.  It’s messy and chaotic and completely out of hand.  But something needs to be done.  One obvious step, to me, is to make child support mandatory when a single parent receives SNAP.  Feeding a child is a basic need that both parents should be responsible for.  This responsibility should not fall on the taxpayer.  It should not even be an option.  It’s a simple equation, really.

Single Parent + SNAP = Mandatory Child Support Case

Simple.

Would some single parents still need SNAP even with the absent parent paying child support?  Sure.  And if so, then by all means, they should receive it.  But to have the ability to say, “No, I’d rather just get my food stamps” is nonsense.  It shouldn’t be an option.  Mom and dad need to feed their children.

Part of the problem is that we are such a consumer driven society.  We want what we want when we want it.  Priorities are way out of line.  An iPhone is not more important than feeding your family.  Cigarettes are not more important than feeding your family.  A Coach purse is not more important than feeding your family.  These items are luxuries, not necessities.  But here in America, according to commercials, you “deserve” a new television, a new car, a new smartphone.

Food, shelter, clothing.  These are necessities.

For those who sincerely need the help, I believe we should help.  Absolutely.  But I also think part of helping is motivating people and guiding people into a more prosperous future for themselves, where they are productive citizens.  I believe a lot of the leadership on this could come from the church.  Christians are called to care for the poor; part of caring is helping show the way to a better life.  It’s like the old phrase – “Give a man a fish; feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish; feed him for lifetime.”  We need to teach people to fish.

Ideas?  Thoughts?

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