Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pennsylvania’s food stamp disaster

Before Miriam Boss got food stamps, the 87-year-old Pennsylvanian was living on only her $1,000 monthly Social Security check. She says making ends meet was always a struggle, and she often went hungry.
Now, Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett wants to enact a new policy that would disqualify thousands of other households in his state from receiving food stamps even though they badly need them. 
Governor Corbett's proposed plan is what's called an "asset test" -- meaning that if someone has more than $5,500 in assets (that could mean a bank account or even a second car), that person would be ineligible to receive food stamps. \

Many food stamp recipients keep money in their savings accounts to help work their way out of poverty (and off of food stamps) -- under Governor Corbett's plan, these folks would lose food stamps, be forced to spend their savings to avoid going hungry, and thus be stuck in the cycle of poverty. What's worse, this plan would cost more taxpayer money to implement than it would cost to just keep giving food stamps to the people who receive them now.
Miriam Boss doesn't want to go back to being hungry all the time, and thanks to some impressive campaigning from local groups, she won't. Early pressure forced Governor Corbett to raise the limit on food stamps. But Miriam knows others will still go hungry, so she started a petition on asking Governor Corbett not to implement his "asset test" plan. Click here to sign Miriam's petition now.
Because of the many bureaucratic hoops in the food stamp process, many food stamp recipients already have to wait 30 days or more to get their benefits. Adding a step where all recipients have to prove that they have fewer than $5,500 in assets could cause even greater delays, forcing some people to go hungry even if they do qualify for food stamps.
Pennsylvania's food stamp program is already underutilized -- because food stamp applications are so complex and confusing, many people who need and would be eligible for food stamps never get access to them. Additionally, Pennsylvania has an extremely low rate of food stamp fraud: just one tenth of one percent. 
If Governor Corbett hears from thousands of Pennsylvanians who disapprove of his "asset test" plan, he'll be forced to reconsider a plan that would waste taxpayer money and force poor people to go hungry.

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