By Tom Colicchio, chef and owner of Craft Restaurants
If you didn’t know better, you might think the biggest problem facing the nation was rampant food stamp fraud. Why else would members of Congress offer amendments that subject the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients to drug tests and photo ID checks?
It turns out that the error rate for the SNAP is only about 1 percent – far less than the fraud rate for farm subsidies.
But that hasn’t stopped members of Congress like Reps. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) and Stephen Fincher (R-TN) from voting to cut SNAP by $20 billion and supporting amendments designed to humiliate SNAP recipients.
Proposals to cut SNAP or to place humiliating restrictions on the program reflect a profound misunderstanding of SNAP recipients.
In the four years my wife, Lori Silverbush, and I spent making A Place at the Table, a film that exposes the shocking truth about American hunger, we found that people expressed deep shame at collecting feeding assistance funds. It’s a stigma they’d do almost anything to avoid – expect, of course, allowing their children to go hungry. We met hundreds of working Americans who would go hungry but for SNAP.
The real shame, of course, should be felt by legislators like Steven Fincher, the legislator who has famously quoted the bible to support SNAP cuts while his family has collect almost $9 million in farm subsidies. LaMalfa is also among the members of Congress who receive farm subsidies.
Fortunately, legislators like Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Ron Kind (D-WI) will offer amendments to eliminate SNAP cuts from the Farm Bill and will instead offer proposals to rein in subsidies to the largest and most profitable farm businesses. And, it’s great news that President Obama has stood up in opposition to SNAP cuts and in support of subsidy reform. They deserve our support.