Category Archives: Uncategorized

SNAP – Food Stamp Controversy

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Yesterday there was a big debate thread on the 100+ board about the news that fast-food chains such as KFC, McDonalds et. al. are petitioning the federal government to allow families who are enrolled in the SNAP program (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program aka Food Stamps) to be able to use them to purchase convenience foods or meals through their restaurants.

The debate went on for two pages on this thread, as this is a hot button for many people who are struggling and NOT using food stamps for their family and do not have the money to purchase food like this and so they cut it out of their own budgets. They were pretty incensed to think that tax dollars would be used to be able to purchase these convenience foods.

Since food stamps were conceived to be able to feed families HEALTHY choices, this was a big part of the debate. There were also some people who felt that just because someone is poor, they should not be treated differently than anyone else. They should be treated with the same respect and dignity and be given the same choices as how to spend their money or their food stamps as those that do not have to count their pennies.

Since I work and have worked in social services, many of those years with the TANF population (aka welfare) I have very mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I feel very bad that they have to deny their children an occasional meal at a fast food chain when all of their friends are eating there and always talking about it. Families struggle. It is a fact. It does not mean that they should not be able to save for the occasional treat for their kids.

As a matter of fact, I have one client who regularly saved some of her food stamps for one special meal each month. She would get ONE small steak for her teenage son who loved it or some shrimp or on his birthday, a lobster for around 6 bucks. She was actually harassed in line at the grocery store when a woman behind her saw her pay for that lobster with the food stamp card! She was in tears about that. The rest of the month she bought large bags of chicken legs etc and cooked nutritious but inexpensive meals. Why would someone care what she ate? Because in their eyes, they were paying for that lobster and they did not buy it because they felt it cost too much so why should SHE buy it.

Allowing dignity for those less fortunate is hard for many people to do. They say things like “Why don’t they get a job instead of going on the dole?” The odds against them finding work with low education levels, lack of affordable child care, lack of transportation in my state (our public transportation is very limited) and other barriers is very daunting. My own HUSBAND who has a stellar work history AND a degree in Mechanical Engineering can’t get a job and he has applied for EVERYTHING and ANYTHING! He is struggling so can you imagine what that population goes through?

I do not advocate for a full on allowance to use food stamps in fast food or any restaurants because it would be too easy to give in to a whiny kid more than once a month and this would likely mean running out of food stamps much earlier than they should as fast food can be expensive. But, they could put a limit of say 25.00 of the money to be spent on convenience foods or allow target populations who do not have access to kitchens to cook to use them there. (elderly, homeless living in a motel room etc)

Obviously, the fast food chains would benefit greatly from this allowance so they are lobbying congress for it. But allowing families to have freedom to use ALL of their food stamps this way would be unwise from where I sit. But, allowing them to have one night where they felt the same as everyone else and are able to buy their child a Happy Meal, would be the right thing to do. Limit it. That is the solution in my opinion.

It just makes me nuts that those who live in poverty are so misunderstood and urban myths about scamming the system persist. Not all of them do.

Off of my soap box!

Help Wanted: Fat people need not apply

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What do I mean by that? Well, as an “Employment Specialist” in my real day to day life, I work with people who are unemployed and under-employed all day long. The program I work with is FEDERAL, and as such has very stringent guidelines regarding who gets services through the program.

One of the documents people get at intake is the “non-discrimination” disclosure. It simply states that a person can not be discriminated for services for the following reasons:

Race
Creed
Color
Religion
Gender
Age
Country of National Origin
Sexual Orientation
Political Persuasion

One thing missing from this document and I suspect it always will be is “Size.” Yet, this is one of the biggest areas of discrimination that exists. Unless you work for a company where the hiring decisions are truly made without bias as to weight, this is taken into consideration whenever you go on an interview.

There are many reasons that the obese are discriminated against on a regular basis, but the number one reason cited in HR Polls is “insurance risk.” The same holds true for smokers as if an interviewer gets a whiff of cigarette smoke on a potential candidate, that is a red flag and they will likely pass you over in favor of a thinner, non-smoking candidate.

Obese people are often very healthy, but if you poll hiring managers, they view them as likely to miss more work and have more catastrophic events such as heart-attack and stroke which would cause them to miss work. Also, even if it is unconscious, they view heavy people as lazy and less likely to have energy. It often has been cited by people as a reason they do not receive raises or promotions. If the position that you are applying for as a heavy person is “high profile” then your chances go down even more if you are fat.

One of my clients told me that he was not hired in his profession as a Pharmacist as he was told that due to his “weight” they had doubts that he could stand on his feet for the requisite twelve hour days. He had put on about 75 lbs during a period of unemployment coupled with a back injury that saw him unable to exercise as he used to and he also confessed to eating gallons of ice cream in his depressive state.

Women are more likely to be discriminated against due to being overweight than men are. It is fact. No matter how “groomed” you are when you arrive for your interview, you already have two strikes against you. One of my clients is a rather large woman. She stands about 6 feet tall and weighs about 350 lbs. She always looks pulled together and I can’t believe the amazing clothes she wears. She spends a lot of money on her wardrobe and has a resume that shows an amazing education (ivy league schools) and experience in her past.

She took some time off to care for her ailing parents and now needs to get back to work. She gained about 100 lbs in that three year period. She states that the moment she walks in to the interview and the hiring person sees her, the interview is over before it starts. She finds herself praying that the interviewer will be heavy as she feels she is on more equal footing if that is the case.

I suggested that perhaps it is her “gap” in her employment history that is hurting her the most. She said that it never even gets that far in the interview. No one ever gets to the point of asking her about the long term of unemployment. They go through the motions of a perfunctory interview, asking her a few questions and then it is over.

She finally begged one of the head hunters she was working with to tell her why this is happening. “Is it my resume? Is it my three year hiatus?” His answer was curt and to the point. He told her that she was not being considered because the companies do not like hiring overweight people due to their insurance costing them more money to insure candidates who are obese. He was honest with her because she begged him to be. He wanted to help her. She was crushed by this admission.

Losing weight = money. Does that speak to you? If not, it should.

Tunnel Vision or why I never half-ass anything I embrace

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I am such an all or nothing type of person. I know that sometimes I must learn moderation and how to look at the big picture, yada, yada, yada. It all started when I was a kid. I always wanted to be the best at anything I set out to do that caught my attention at the time.

For a while, I was into running fast. I broke the 50-yard dash record in junior high school for 7th graders. It had been the record for about 15 years. I broke it by 2/10 of a second. I was determined! Since then, it has been broken numerous times as kids have become bigger and stronger over the years. I also set the record for most sit-ups done by a 7th grader. I did over 450 of them in gym class! This record has not only been broken, but shattered as since then a girl did over 900 of them!

Why did I not remain focused on fitness since I was such a super active kid who loved sports? I played baseball, kickball and all sports, even basketball and although I am short, I could hit my free-throws with my eagle eye and great aim. My ex-husband took me to shoot the bow and arrow once. I hit the bullseye on the first try! He could not believe it. I also shot clay birds out of the air but I hate guns so… But, the video game duck hunt? I owned that baby, rarely if ever missing. For awhile I became obsessed with that game, playing for hours by myself.

As an adult, the good habits of childhood began to fade in terms of exercise. I hated it…and still do really. It may be because it hurts so much after wrecking my knees with all the excess weight I have been carrying around. So, instead, I focused on getting an education and being as good as I could be about that. When I decided to return to college at the age of 40, I was working full time but signed up for 4 classes.

Everyone said I was nuts and that I would soon be dropping at least two of those, especially not having seen a classroom for over 20 years. That only made me more determined! I had a perfect 4.0 that sememster and almost every one after that as well, graduating magna cumm (they won’t let me spell that properly with the dirty minds in the front office!) laude in 4.5 years, number 18 out of my class of 1244, all while working my full time job, raising a family and even keeping my house relatively clean! On to grad school where I maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA. But, I ran out of money during my divorce and did not finish and that killed me! I may still return someday if money allows.

Now it is WW I have embraced. I have fully committed to this program, body, mind and spirit! The one thing I hope for is that I don’t move on to something else that catches my attention. I need this one for life! I need to stay passionate about the healthy eating and measuring and weighing and as much activity as this old body will allow. I need this one to be forever! So, my all or nothing will not fail me, I am obsessed at the time of doing something I want to accomplish. Right now that is this program. Sure beats being obsessed with laying on the couch with a bag of cookies! I went that route for a while too 🙂

So, here I go again, making my obsession my number one priority. While I am not looking to break any records, I sure do want to reach that finish line…and so far, I am looking like I will!