EUGENE, Ore. — It’s now known that many of the poor in Eugene are either on food stamps or wish they could get food stamps, while the latest figures from Washington state that nearly 46 million Americans are on food stamps.
“I used to get the stamps, but I’ve been living rough in Eugene far too long now to get them again. I’m hungry, you know, and I could use some food help real bad,” says Gene who lives in a box near outside a local Eugene strip mall.
“You just don’t know how bad it is in Eugene when those with food stamps are now considering the well off,” quips Gene while adding that he and other Eugene area “invisible” folks “won’t be that invisible much longer when the stuff really hits the fan.”
Food stamp nation suffers with nearly 46 million receiving emergency food aid
Always afraid of what people would think, Frank lit a cigarette, inhaled deeply, hoping to get together the courage to state that “I’m homeless, broke, and so poor that I no longer even qualify for food stamps;” while a record 45.75 million Americans now receive food stamps to keep themselves and their children alive in a time of deep recession.
Frank sleeps in his own urine on a cold floor in a men’s room in the “Old Town” area in the nearby coastal town of Florence. Frank used to receive food stamps like nearly 46 million other Americans who are now receiving this emergency food aid at a time when some are questioning if we are still in a recession.
“Recession! This is no recession, it’s a living hell,” explains Frank has his homely face rearranged itself into the face of a bad night, that Frank and other homeless here in Oregon have every night, and now, it seems, everyday of their lives. “We are the richest country on Earth, and yet we allow our citizens to come to this,” states Florence senior Martha, who at age 83, said “I thought I’d seen the bottom of this country during the Great Depression. But, it’s back again now in full force.”
Nearly 46 million Americans now receive food stamps
“The number of Americans relying on food stamps has hit an all-time record,” stated NBC’s Brian Williams during an Aug. 3 TV broadcast that referenced new data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that noted in May there were “45.75 million recipients of the aid, up 2.5% from the previous month and 12% from May 2010.”
Also, the USDA stated that “the state of Alabama showed the biggest increase, almost 120%, with New Jersey, Nevada and North Carolina all seeing jumps in the 20% range.
For those richest Americans who just received a tax break with the recent budget fight in Congress, and others who are comfortable with plenty of food and money and a roof over their heads, the idea of “food stamps” may sound foreign and even a bit strange.
In brief, a USDA fact sheet notes that the Food Stamp Program is formally called the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” (SNAP). It’s a federal-assistance program that gives low or zero income folks and those with families living in America a sort of credit card or sometimes a food stamp voucher that allows them to buy food, but not toilet paper or such things as beer or what everyday Americans view as needed supplies.
Food stamps made news back in 2008 when, at the height of the recession, President George W. Bush vetoed “The Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008,” because the president viewed too many Americans were receiving this free food aid.
Today, with nearly 46 million Americans receiving food stamps, the USDA reports how the food stamp program is at “its highest number since the SNAP program began in 1939.”
Americans who are the poorest of poor only “wish” they could get food stamps
A 30 something couple named Sharon and Rich hold signs in an Oregon coastal area parking lot asking for a ride out of town. When questioned about their status, Rich notes that “we just went to the Salvation Army and they can’t help us. We lost our home down in Arizona after I got laid off and we can’t get food stamps down there. We’re hoping to get food stamps if we get up to Washington state,” he adds with the same blank look in his eyes as partner Sharon.
In turn, Rich notes that “we only wish we could get food stamps so we could eat.
At the same time, lawmakers in both the House and Senate are on summer break and no doubt enjoying parties and BBQ events back in their home state. Also, President Obama is celebrating his 50thbirthday Aug. 4 back in his home state of Illinois that also has serious problems with many of its residents receiving emergency food aid.
Also, local media in the Chicago area ask why doesn’t the president or Congress address poverty in America, or that a record 46 million of Americans are receiving food stamps with tens of millions of other Americans so poor that they don’t qualify for emergency aid and are either living off of trash and garbage or dying due to malnutrition.
“These are the invisible Americans who live in cardboard boxes in dark alleyways and who are infected with all sorts of mental and physical disease,” quips Joyce, a local Eugene volunteer who helps seniors with “meals-on-wheels.”
In fact, the Springfield, Illinois “Daily Herald” newspaper stated Aug. 4 that “food stamp sue has increased by 46 percent in Cook county, 133 percent in DuPage County, 84 percent in Lake County, 96 percent in Kane County, 168 percent in McHenry County and 74 percent in Will County.”
Springfield is the capital of Illinois with a reported U.S. Census population report from 2010 of nearly 210,000.
“As suburban workers over the last several years have lost their jobs or taken pay cuts, some people who used to volunteer at the Northern Illinois Food Bank have ended up on the other side of the line asking for help,” reported the Daily Herald Aug. 4 while the president recently visited his home state of Illinois.
In turn, local food banks in the Eugene area are “really in need of help,” say local volunteers.
“People who were barely getting by have been hit with increased gas prices and other costs, and keeping up has been tough, says Donna Lake, spokeswoman for the St. Charles-based food bank in Illinois. Lake also noted that data from the state clearly show that hunger in the suburbs is on the rise as use of food stamps has nearly doubled in some parts of the region in the last five years.
“It’s easy to assume hunger is an urban problem,” whose food bank serves 13 counties. “But the fact of the matter is, hunger is everywhere.” said Lake in an Aug. 4 Daily Herald report.
Also, this bad news about food stamp use on the rise, while more Americans literally starve to death, is also happening in other states while Congress takes a summer break and the haves enjoy their summer vacation almost unaware that their fellow Americans – to the tune of 46 million plus – are barley getting by with this emergency food aid.
In Columbus, Ohio, for instance, local media report that “almost every month, food pantries have seen an increase of 500 new families asking for food assistance.”
According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, more than 1.5 million applied for good stamps in 2010, and this is just one state in the union.