Let Them Eat Snacks

Commentary By Katy Heins and Lynn Williams

According to federal legislation, single adults between the ages of 18 and 50 (without children) can only receive food stamps for 3 months out of 36 months unless they are:

  1. employed 20 hours a week
  2. placed in a work program requiring them to work 20 hours per week or
  3. by volunteering the appropriate number of hours and by dividing their food stamp benefit by the federal minimum wage. This means food stamp recipients should only be working 20-21 hours per month.

However, we are hearing reports (including a report by a JOBS worker) that in Hamilton County, all recipients who are between 18 and 50 and are “able bodied” are being required to work in community experience sites for 20 hours per week! This is the equivalent of working for approximately $1.40 an hour!! Food stamp only recipients receive only $120 total for the month in stamps. The Welfare Rights Coalition believes that no one should have to work for $1.40 an hour to receive food stamps. This is returning to the days of slavery! We want to hear from you, if you are being harassed like this. If this is happening to you or someone you know, please call us immediately. Call 513.381-4242 in Cincinnati and speak to Katy, Lynn or Stacey.


$28 BILLION are being cut from the Food Stamp Program between 1997 and 2002. The cuts affect everyone on food stamps, including the elderly and children living in poverty. This is part of the 1996 Federal Welfare Law that President Clinton notoriously signed. Recently The Cincinnati Post ran an article featuring the amount of taxpayer money that our U.S. House Representatives spend on junk food and drink. Newt Gingrich was reported to spend $908 on soft drinks every three months! He also spends $580 for coffee and $4,151 for snacks. We are amazed that Gingrich can slash food stamps for the poor, almost all of whom are the working poor, and at the same time drink and eat up to $22,034.00 each year in pop and other junk food!

In response to this news, one of our WRC members felt moved to write a poem:

“When I looked in the morning newspaper,

O, my, what did I see

An article about Newt Gingrich

And what he’s doing for you and me.

I had to read it again

How it seemed like it was laughing at me.

Struggling to make ends meet

‘Cause the House of Representatives is so thirsty.

When they turn up their noses about us

(you know those on AFDC)

Having to depend on TANF to feed our families.

As for me, a parent struggling to stay off welfare

But not even knowing if I will have child care

Where are our values.

I hope someone will see that we need money for families

And not to give to the Coca Cola Company.

I’m not trying to say that they shouldn’t drink pop

But have a heart

Copyright for the Homeless Grapevine and NEOCH, Issue 21, Cleveland Ohio June 1996