For several decades, if not longer, America has a history of stigmatizing citizens who collect SNAP benefits, a.k.a. food stamps. The stereotype of the freeloading government-assistance recipient perhaps took its nastiest turn with Ronald Reagan’s “Welfare Queen” in the 1970s. However, current politicians, like Missouri’s Rick Brattin, have held onto that flawed view. In 2015, Brattin even proposed limitations to assistance in his state because he “saw people purchasing filet mignons and crab legs with their EBT cards.”
A recent report from National Geographic‘s The Plate breaks down why Brattin’s stereotype is fundamentally flawed. From the story:
For a person whose benefits average $126 per month, it doesn’t seem like buying food items that cost upwards of the cited monthly beef expenditures would factor into purchasing habits.
On a fundamental level, some scholars argue that SNAP-benefit recipients should be integrating more seafood and steak into their diets. Washington University professor Mark Rank, who’s written a book on welfare, told the Washington Post last year about Brattin’s proposal, “It just seems really repressive. I don’t see how it makes any sense to ban some of these foods. Fish is something that should really be in your diet. And steak, what does that mean in this context?”
Of course, even without relying on the stereotype, SNAP benefits are being gutted this year. Between 500,000 and 1 million recipients will lose their access, as states re-implement work time-limits that were waived following the recession.
[via The Plate]