Editor: This Reader Rant is in response to the complaints posted by a San Diego County food stamp worker.
As a former government worker myself, I can understand the food stamp worker’s lament to not be blamed for the program regulations she/he has to deal and the stress she/he deals with having heavy caseloads and not enough workers, BUT it sure sounds like there is an attitude problem also, as many have already mentioned.
The worker blames federal regulations but doesn’t seem to be aware that California, and San Diego County in particular, goes far beyond what the federal regulations require to PROCESS the applications, and someone has already mentioned that maybe the fact that our County Board of Supervisors is made up of all Republicans has something to do with that.
There was a December article in the Union-Tribune that brought out what our county does that only a couple other states require, plus other reports that I’ll refer to that indicate that our county is definitely putting our local food stamp applicants “through the wringer” and shortchanging and denying those that do legitimately qualify. We all know that we live in a tourist town, which means that there are many retail and service jobs that pay little money, and that it can be hard to pay bills in our expensive city. That’s partly why programs like food stamps came into play.
No one should be made to feel like a criminal for applying, or should it be assumed that they’ll buy something with them that this worker thinks they will, or that they’ll shop where groceries are more expensive. Couldn’t it be that maybe the applicant doesn’t have a car so can’t get to a less expensive grocery store, or that lugging a few bags of groceries on a bus to feed a family of 4, let’s say, might just be too hard to deal with?
The worker said “I watch them (the applicants) all the time.” when shopping. Does he/she shop at the non-grocery stores and does he/she follow them?
The facts are :
1) Our county gets the money from the federal government for all the money paid to those eligible and partially pays, along with the state, for the county workers’ salaries, and yet San Diego County spends 34% of the Food Stamps money it receives from the state on anti-fraud programs, while other counties spend an average of 13% of their resources.
2) San Diego County is the ONLY county in the U.S. to require that all applicants have unannounced home visits by a District Attorney investigator, despite this having benefits or benefits reduced in only 1.3% of the cases. Think of the cost the investigators get paid.
3) California is one of only 3 states that require fingerprints for those eligible, and this costs $11.4 million a year while state auditors have revealed that there is no evidence that fingerprinting reduces fraud. The county can ask the state for a waiver to this rule.
4) $1.00 of Food Stamps generates $1.84 in economic activity ; $1.00 of FS generates up to $.47 spent in a grocery store; $1.00 of FS generates $2.25 in local taxes.
5) 2 million households (about 6 million people) in California go to bed hungry each night which is about 1 million, mostly children, in San Diego County in these current times.
6) San Diego County can hire more workers to ease the burden of the current workers, but they choose not to.
These are just of few things that this worker should be aware of, and they can be verified by looking at http://www.caringcouncilsd.org
I’d not like to be in a FS applicant’s position with this worker as his/her attitude would probably show.