Need, not abuse, should be focus of debate on food aid

Does anyone remember the experiment my family did last March called MyPlate on My Budget? My goal was to find out if my family could keep to the USDA Cost of Food at Home Thrifty Budget, and also follow the government’s MyPlate nutritional guidelines.

The answer was yes, just barely, but we ate a lot of farmed fish and potatoes.

MyPlate on My Budget has been on my mind a lot recently because I’ve been wondering about the potential changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

I want to be very clear about my opinion. I do not want SNAP to be cut. I’m about as far from an objectivist as you can get. I’d rather watch the 2013 documentary “A Place at the Table” (which is streaming on Netflix right now) than a D-list movie version of “Atlas Shrugged.”

But … I’ve also been thinking about something I witnessed in March during the last week of my experiment. I was in line at my local grocery store when I heard the cashier say loudly to the shopper in front of me, “EBT? You want to use your EBT card for this? EBT won’t work for that!”

The lady in question was my age and looked horribly embarrassed.

I thought the clerk was being rude, until I saw what the woman was trying to purchase: a six-pack of beer and a bouquet of flowers.

In a split second I turned into the most judgmental person you can imagine. There I was with my cart of potatoes, frozen peas and bananas, and she was buying imported beer? What a cheater!

I was angry all the way to the car, but then I tried to think bigger. Maybe that woman had to bring flowers for Teacher Appreciation Day. Or perhaps she was buying beer for her father-in-law, who had just broken his hip. Who am I to judge?

But seven months later, I’m still bothered. It’s hard to take the generous view without feeling taken advantage of as a taxpayer. I also keep thinking about people who really need SNAP, but who miss the cutoff by a small margin. My heart hurts for the families in our community who struggle to afford food.

According to the Children’s Alliance, up to 400,000 children in Washington state live in food-insecure households. I want all those children to be fed. I want adults without dependents who need longer than three months to find a job to receive assistance, too.

John Adams, our nation’s second president, said, “It is more important that innocence should be protected, than it is that guilt be punished.”

To me, that means that the woman with flowers and beer is not the most important part of this conversation.

Jennifer Bardsley blogs at teachingmybabytoread.com.

More in Life

Mukilteo’s Hani Hani scores with the police chief

The Japanese restaurant serves dishes (poke, ramen, grill) inspired by the Hawaiian islands.

‘Coco’ is another eye-popping home run for Pixar/Disney

The animated movie’s a lively, touching tale of honoring family, following dreams.

Beer of the Week: Scuttlebutt’s Barrel-aged Belgian Winter

Made in 2013, the dark strong ale was stowed away in barrels. The brewery tests one each year.

‘Love, Chaos and Dinner’ an Teatro ZinZanni’s original show

The “Parsian cabaret” is a superb circus dinner theater operation in Marymoor Park through April 29.

Heavy Hollywood headlines: Robert Horton’s movies preview

In the midst of all the sexual-misconduct allegations, the holiday film season offers some relief.

Denzel Washington’s remarkable performance isn’t helped by plot

The actor is convincing as an awkward, eccentric lawyer, but unconvincing contrivances pile up.

‘The Breadwinner’ animation is strong, but its story is stilted

The Cartoon Saloon film never lets you forget that you’re here to learn an important lesson.

Pianist Kaitlyn Gia Lee, 10, of Mill Creek, will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major on Nov. 26 with the Everett Philharmonic Orchestra.
Young pianist to perform Mozart with Everett Philharmonic

Kaitlyn Gia Lee, 10, of Mill Creek, will play the piano at the Music for the Imagination concert.

Liz Oyama as Belle, Jimmi Cook as Gaston and John Han as Lefou star in the Edmonds Driftwood Players production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” opening Nov. 24. Magic Photo
In Driftwood’s ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ Belle has girl-power bend

Edmonds Driftwood Players presents Disney’s adaptation of the fair tale Nov. 24 through Dec. 17.

Most Read