Food Stamps for College Kids?

Let them eat baked potatoes.

Maybe I better explain.

I came across an interesting article at The Daily Caller Web site: more college kids are qualifying for food stamps.

Whereas government-funded grub has long been available to the working poor, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), through its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is eagerly expanding such benefits to college kids, too.

For starters, says The New York Times, the USDA has worked to take the stigma out of receiving government grub. It now calls food stamps “nutritional aid.”

Recipients who once received actual stamps now receive a plastic card. It looks and works like a debit card. Only you and your grocer know who is really picking up the tab.

Though it’s not like college kids feel stigmatized by food stamps. Many can’t believe their good fortune.

That’s because the USDA has made it easy for them, regardless of their socioeconomic background, to qualify. Many college kids are “poor” on paper even if they’re from well-to-do homes.

And if they live at home with Mom and Dad, they still may qualify — so long as they can show that Mom and Dad prepare only half of their meals.

And so it is that many are receiving a few hundred bucks a month in free grub.

I surely could have used such assistance during my Penn State days in the early ’80s, but those were the unenlightened Reagan years, when many college kids WOULD have felt stigmatized for accepting handouts.

Boy, was I broke.

When school was in session, I worked as a cook, janitor, bouncer and grass cutter. I managed the dump of a rooming house where I lived.

We had a community kitchen and never locked the doors (the cockroaches needed to come and go, too!).

One day after I’d earned just enough dough to buy fresh sliced turkey and bread, the lunch-meat thief struck — no sandwich for me.

We never caught the jerk, but he surely suffered no stigma for receiving handouts.

I concocted what I thought was a clever strategy to spend less money at the pub. I sold my plasma twice a week — they drew my blood, spun off the plasma, then gave me back the rest — and I always planned my donations around happy hours.

Lightheaded, my blood thinned, one beer had the effect of three. My bar-tab savings were enormous.

The only food assistance I recall receiving came from Ralph, one of our rooming-house tenants.

Ralph was in his late 20s — he’d earned his degree years before but his mother wouldn’t let him return to the family farm until he found a wife — and he spent all of his time baking potatoes.

They sat all over the house.

The wrinkly spuds didn’t look very appetizing, but to a fellow stumbling into the kitchen low on plasma and high on Budweiser, they may as well have been the finest cuts of filet mignon.

Ralph’s “bakers” got me through my senior year of college.

In any event, it would appear our government is eager to get more people hooked on government handouts — President Obama’s latest budget includes $72.5 billion for food stamps, almost double the amount from 2008.

And while most college kids figure they’d be dumb not to accept free grub if we taxpayers are dumb enough to let our government to pay for it, I offer a different take.

Nobody minds when his tax dough is used to help the working poor and others who are truly in need, but food stamps for college kids?

Let the spoiled moochers eat baked potatoes.

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  • elkabrikir

    I know Mr Purcell is a humorist, however, the tax structure and other policies have consequences.

    My 21 year old daughter earned around $11,500. She paid for her college tuition, room and board and expenses from that income. Out of that same $11,500 she was expected to pay $1000. in federal/state taxes since we claimed her as a dependent.

    Therefore, she changed her filing status and claimed herself and her tuition. In exchange, she gets a $340.00 credit, and we lose several hundred $$. (We didn’t have the money to write a check to Uncle at tax time. Plus, now she can qualify for financial aid for grad school.)

    Now, how can a person live on $11, 800 a year? When the government forces us to “emancipate” her, she, in fact, becomes eligible for all sorts of services. Next year, she will apply for Medicaid and food stamps and any other benefit out there. The tax policies ensure it.

    What is the financial incentive for me to support (tuition, health insurance, permanent home, car repairs, incidentals….and by the way, her cell phone is 4 years old and has a limited plan that we pay for. Her ipod is 6 years old, so she’s not living “la vida loca”.) I’ve got 11 other kids and I can’t afford an adult child and all their costs given the tax structure. She can’t afford to be a dependant anyway. Uncle Sam saw to that.

    The poverty level for a single person is about $10,500. (try paying for room, board, health care costs, tuition, transportation, car insurance, clothing, and incidentals out of that income.) However, at that income she wouldn’t have owed the Feds $1000. How ironic that she earned $11,500 last year. Boy has she learned her lesson: Hard work pays….Washington.

    Where can I sign her up for nutritional supplements? She could use the helping hand of a loving uncle.

  • elkabrikir

    And one more thing. I believe that all of these welfare programs should be used for short term periods of time and just to help people get over a down-turn in their personal economy (caused by whatever reason.)

    Only the seriously handicapped, very elderly, and children should get welfare that lasts more than two years.

    I also believe that wages should be garnished (once people are back to work) or public service compelled for anybody who takes public monies. Healthy people shoud work if they want to eat.

    I’m sick of the social poverty that the welfare states breeds. Legitimately poor people don’t have cell phones, fake painted nails, hair weaves, smoking habits, satelite TV, a TV, etc. They don’t buy 5 lbs of Vidalia onions and yellow squash with their “farmer’s market vouchers” that are provided to “poor” families with children under 3 in my state. (Sure, every 2 year old loves squash casserole! right. And I stood there counting out 9 peaches–total– for my kids. The only peaches they ate all summer.)

    I’ve seen real poverty (I’ve lived in Africa and South America). Many receiving welfare today have brought their troubles upon themselves. (single parenthood, high school drop outs, drug use, criminal behavior, instant gratification mentality.) The only way out is for each individual to take repsonsibility for himself and climb out of the hole he created.

    However, until that happens, I can’t pay for them and me-and-mine. For example, my newest baby will cost me $5K not including the 15K we pay in health insurance per year. Yet some healthy 22 year old, with her boyfriend, bopped into the ob/gyn office last week ahead of me, presented her Medicaid card, and received her “what’s the sex” ultrasound. I guess I’m paying for twin children of different mothers. And what duty does she have to society for her care?

    My daughter can hold her nose and slide her EBT card….for she does love squash casserole, as long as she’s not paying for it!

    Sorry for the rants…

  • guitarmom

    To follow up on elkabrikir’s point …

    The tax laws seem to be written to make sure that young adults become dependent on the government instead of on their families.

    We were stunned to find out that we could not claim our 28 year old daughter as a dependent for 2009. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 and moved back with us. We housed her, paid her bills out of our savings and borrowed to pay her substantial medical bills. (Thank you, God, for her stunning and miraculous recovery.)

    We could have had her medical care covered by MediCal, but we chose to supplement her inadequate insurance because we felt that was the right thing to do. We “knew” that she would qualify as our dependent, and that would offset some of our costs.


    Because she earned more than $3500 at the end of 2009, we could not claim her as a dependent. Now, no one can live on $3500, especially a cancer patient. Yet that meager income means she was not “dependent” upon us.

    We discovered that the “smart” thing to do would have been to let the state of California pay for not only her cancer treatment, but to have MediCal “income” cover her car payments. It turned out that being responsible parents who took care of our own daughter in a time of great need was financially foolish.

    Who knew how anti-family our tax code is?

  • But where do you draw the line on people who should be getting long-term welfare? As soon as you say that someone who is “seriously disabled” can get benefits, you need to decide what constitutes a serious disability. There are psychological conditions (PTSD, serious mental illness, serious emotional impairments) that can be every bit as disabling, at least with respect to someone’s ability to work, as paralysis, amputation, and other more obvious “medical” problems.

    I’m on Disability due to a severe mental illness that absolutely keeps me from working a 40 hour week. It’s not strictly-speaking “welfare”; it’s the same social insurance that elderly people get, and that I paid a premium for when I was healthy and working. I’m not very happy about it and I make it a point to keep my lifestyle modest, because I’m aware that my fellow citizens are footing the bill. But right now (and I think about this all the time) I see no realistic alternative.

    Government handouts, even social insurance that everyone is eligible for, are not fair to people who struggle to pay their own way. The problem with abuse of welfare is sin. Taking advantage of other people for money is a sin. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods,” and that’s exactly what you’re doing when you want to take something that belongs to your neighbor without paying for it.

    So what’s the answer? Like everything else, it’s Jesus and His Church. I know that Jesus provides for me; right now, he happens to be doing it through Disability. People who abuse welfare need a relationship with Christ, and that’s where it’s our job as Christians to step in. There are no quick but tempting answers, the solution happens one soul at a time.

  • elkabrikir


    praise God for your daughter’s healing!

    God sees everything, especially your honest sacrifices for your daughter. Embracing the welfare way of life is a culture. Those not indoctrinated, feel revulsion from seeking even–legitimate–help.

    We need many more families like yours in this country (for many reasons).

  • elkabrikir

    prairehawk, you’re correct on all counts.

    Now!!!!! Here’s something hilarious!!! My college daughter, who’s in exam week, just called to say that she went to Wendy’s to buy their $.99 baked potato!!!!! She didn’t know why, since she hasn’t had one all year! (I know why: Mr Purcell’s guardian angel sent her a message! or she read CE which isn’t unusual.)

    No shock at all, but Wendy’s told her they wouldn’t be ready for 45 minutes!! She would have moved on to Plan B: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, except that’s what she had for dinner last night and lunch today!