Skip to content

Mom and kids get obese on food stamps–so let’s give them more food stamps

November 11, 2013

It’s all our fault, says the WaPo:

McAllen, Tex. — They were already running late for a doctor’s appointment, but first the Salas family hurried into their kitchen for another breakfast paid for by the federal government. The 4-year-old grabbed a bag of cheddar-flavored potato chips and a granola bar. The 9-year-old filled a bowl with sugary cereal and then gulped down chocolate milk. Their mother, Blanca, arrived at the refrigerator and reached into the drawer where she stored the insulin needed to treat her diabetes. She filled a needle with fluid and injected it into her stomach with a practiced jab.

***

For almost a decade, Blanca had supported her five children by stretching $430 in monthly food stamp benefits, adding lard to thicken her refried beans and buying instant soup by the case at a nearby dollar store. She shopped for “quantity over quality,” she said, aiming to fill a grocery cart for $100 or less.

But the cheap foods she could afford on the standard government allotment of about $1.50 per meal also tended to be among the least nutritious — heavy in preservatives, fats, salt and refined sugar. Now Clarissa, her 13-year-old daughter, had a darkening ring around her neck that suggested early-onset diabetes from too much sugar. Now Antonio, 9, was sharing dosages of his mother’s cholesterol medication. Now Blanca herself was too sick to work, receiving disability payments at age 40 and testing her blood-sugar level twice each day to guard against the stroke doctors warned was forthcoming as a result of her diet.

Let’s unpack this:

We, the taxpayers, are supporting a 40-year-old woman with a disease that: 1) she brought on herself by packing in the sweets; and 2) is not regarded by the medical profession as interfering with people’s ability to work.

Then there’s the $430 in free money via food stamps (also courtesy of us taxpayers) that she receives on top of the disability (and don’t tell me she’s not getting welfare as well for those kids). But somehow, that’s not enough to buy a single nutritious food item–although she’s got plenty to spend on “cheddar-flavored potato chips,” “sugary cereal,” and “chocolate milk.”

She doesn’t work, so she’s got plenty of time on her hands, but she still can’t be bothered to cook her children breakfast. She can’t even be bothered to serve them non-sugar-coated cereal and regular milk, which would cut the calories quite a bit.

She can’t even get them to the doctor’s office on time!

And where is Mr. Salas in all of this? Oh, right, there is no Mr. Salas. There never has been.

She had her first baby at 19 and her second a few years later, with a man who soon disappeared to Mexico.

So what’s the solution? Why, even more government assistance! A USDA-financed program (us taxpayers again) pays social workers to trudge from door to door in poor neighborhoods with a sackful of plastic replicas of food items–plastic chickens, plastic vegetables, and so forth–in order to give the inhabitants individualized “nutrition education.” The residents also get a list of “recommended” food items–“fat-free cottage cheese, quinoa, bok choy, chickpeas”–that sounds as though it came off a grocery-list app at the Whole Foods in Austin.

Here’s how well that expensive, labor-intensive “nutrition education” worked for Blanca Salas:

She had attended a nutrition class earlier in the week, and now she held a sheet listing federally recommended foods in one hand while sorting through her fridge to take inventory with the other. “Fresh vegetables,” the sheet suggested, and Blanca found two rotting tomatoes, a package of frozen broccoli and two containers of instant vegetable soup. “Fruit,” the sheet read, and she saw grape-flavored popsicles and three apples in the crisper. “Dairy”: They had Cool Whip and Nesquik. “Whole grains”: three frozen pizzas and a package of corn dogs. “Healthy Snacks”: a 24-pack of hot Cheetos.

***

She had tried planning a menu and cooking family dinners, but tailoring meals on a budget to the varied tastes of five children exhausted her. They would eat broccoli only if she slathered it with butter and cheese. They would eat Mexican mole sauce only if it came with a hulking side of tortilla chips. The prepackaged diet lunches she splurged on at $3.50 each sometimes came back from school with uneaten turkey and whole-wheat crackers.

As her health worsened, she had started shopping mostly for foods she knew they would eat and prepare themselves. She was a single mother with little money and less energy, she reasoned; it was more important to provide enough than it was to worry about what, exactly, she was providing.

So the kids get to run around (actually not run, which would work off some pounds) like five spoiled brats and eat whatever they feel like whenever they feel like it–from the vast supply of Cheetos and instant vegetable soup that their mother keeps handy for them.

The WaPo solution: Give this woman even more food stamps!

She had already exhausted her food-stamp account for the month, and she had nothing else to spend until the next deposit arrived in a few days. This time she would receive about $30 less, like everyone on food stamps, because of stimulus funding that expired in November.

My proposed solution: Cut out the food stamps altogether. If she had to maybe budget what she spent, she might try cooking a few meals from scratch–which, believe it or not, liberals–actually costs less than the prepackaged stuff–and also tell the kids that this is what they’re eating for dinner, period, and if they don’t like it, they can go to bed hungry (which would be good for them).

I grew up in Southern California. There were working-class Mexican neighborhoods everywhere. They were rough neighborhoods–gangs and the like–but most of the Mexican-Americans prided themselves on owning their homes, modest though they might be, and maintaining backyard gardens where many grew their own vegetables.Dawn there was heralded by the crowing of the chickens that many of them kept, probably illegally. Families were generally intact and headed by fathers who worked. The women prided themselves on the delicious and nutritious (tomatoes and peppers) Mexican food they cooked. Young people generally got married before they had babies, supporting a thriving wedding-shop business featuring elaborate lace-trimmed gowns and fancy tuxes. People’s waists thickened a bit as they got older, but they mostly weren’t fat.

That culture has completely disappeared, to be replaced by a culture of abject government dependency and the inability of adults to fend for themselves, much less raise their children to have proper eating and other habits.

But the WaPo says: Let’s give them even more free stuff, and maybe they’ll eat right. Sure.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Advertisements

From → Uncategorized

3 Comments
  1. asdf permalink

    wouldn’t you get like a week’s worth of healthy food off $430?

  2. Diane permalink

    Charlotte, couldn’t agree more! You know I saw this first hand. Well, let’s face it; my mother didn’t cook, didn’t work, but we could eat junk food galore. As a child I had some good sense to buy can soup. Otherwise, it was cinnamon rolls, potatoe chips, or candy. (Ok, I liked the candy, but I was just a child). My friend Vicky’s Mexican American family took great pride in owning their modest home, and yes, planting vegetables. Her father worked as a bys driver and her mom was a teacher’s aid and as a teenager I went over their house for delicious, and nutritious Mexican food. They are becoming the minority now.

    • The sad thing, Diane, is that the situation is even worse two generations later. I do some work with my church with food pantries, and I’m always thinking: Do these people have any idea what to do with this food? A couple of weeks ago we were handing out sweet potatoes and giant onions. Me, I can figure out a million things to do with both–but I have a feeling that a lot of those onions and sweet potatoes ended up in the garbage.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: