So, you may have seen the story about the Michigan man who won $2 million and continues to use food stamps. I was going to write a whole long soapboxy rant about it but then decided to just write a carefully edited abbreviated soapboxy rant instead.
Yes, per Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamp) income requirements, he is still eligible. Yes, this is due to a flaw in the SNAP program. Yes, he followed proper procedure in notifying the state of his winnings. Yes, the state said he could keep his assistance. However, just because there is a flaw in a system doesn’t mean it should be exploited. Especially by someone with $1 million in the bank. It is wrong and it is completely immoral.
Someone like this only fuels the fire for the opponents of SNAP and reaffirms many of the stereotypes that exist about SNAP users. Especially someone who has the good fortune of winning that kind of money and then turns around and says, and I’m paraphrasing, that there’s no way anyone is going to make him feel guilty about continuing to use food stamps. I think that’s the part that gets to me. The lack of remorse at needlessly taking advantage of an already overextended system.
Having spent the majority of my career working with at-risk populations, I have seen my share of system abuse. It infuriates me every time I read or hear of another instance of someone abusing any assistance program because the abusers detract from those who legitimately need the help. What this man is doing is clearly a very egregious instance of abuse and the self-serving, condescending and overt nature with which he is abusing the system makes me want to scream. Please don’t even get me started on his lawyer.
The intent behind SNAP is a noble one—helping those who cannot afford enough food to acquire that food. It is also an amazingly flawed system that is criticized, picked apart, and the source of a great deal of contention. And none of that is without good reason. Open dialogue about these types of programs is necessary. But whatever your opinion of the program requirements and oversight may be, I think we can all agree that this case is a vile display of abuse. And it needs to be stopped.