End Time Limited Food Assistance

End Time Limited Food Assistance

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Jamie M started this petition to U.S. Department of Agriculture and

My name is Jamie, I am a 31 year old Michigan resident. I am starting this petition to ask the Department of Agriculture, the United States Congress, and the House of Representatives to help provide food for the millions of low income individuals who are trapped without a way to provide healthy and stable meals due to changes to SNAP. 

I have started this petition after being cut off from access to my Bridge Card under the Time Limited Food Assistance. The reason? I did not meet the work requirements as I fight for disability. 

Time Limited Food Assistance is a food assistance program with a limitation for how long an individual may remain on food assistance. The program mandates that a person may only get three months of assistance every three years, unless underemployed. This applies to anyone they decide is able-bodied, whether they actually are or not.

This is used as a tactic not only to limit access to food, but also to limit access to Disability. If a disabled person like myself gets a job so they qualify for food assistance, no matter the personal cost, then they are “not disabled enough” to qualify for Disability. If they do not find a job, then they are cut off from their means of acquiring food to eat, and are forced to choose between eating, paying their bills, or getting their medications. No matter which route an individual goes, they will be trapped in a situation that will cause them to go into debt and/or negatively impact their qualiy of life. 

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25 states: "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services." [1].

Yet the Time Limited Food Assistance forces people to choose between those rights, Particularly for those who are low income and fighting for disability like myself; those who are on the edge of the income allowance; those who are homeless and receive minimum food assistance that barely provides enough food to survive on; those who have recently lost their jobs; and those who have limited work history. 

According to the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” [2]. In this statement it declares that life and the pursuit of happiness are both unalienable rights, and that the government is to ensure a citizen’s right to their safety and happiness. 

Unfortunately, those rights are rarely protected for those who need the most assistance. In order for life to be successful, one must be able to acquire healthy foods. If a person is unable to afford food, then they will not be able to acquire it. If a person is forced to choose between eating, providing shelter, or purchasing their medication they are not being provided their right to life. If the only foods they can afford are unhealthy, then their life will be impacted by the complications brought on by poor food consumption. 

The purported purpose of the Time Limited Food Assistance is to keep individuals from depending on outside assistance and lessen fraud. What it does not take into account is that many of the people that it cuts off are not in a position to lose the assistance without harm. Furthermore, cutting individuals off will not actually stop fraud, as someone may well need to use their own card to help feed someone who has been cut off -- which is also considered fraud -- rather than allow their friends or family to starve [3].

While there is valid fraud -- less than 1%! [3] -- and individuals that scam the system, is it truly worth punishing the millions simply trying to survive and make sure those closest to them survive as well? Why can’t we help them get back on their feet, instead of making things worse by taking what could be the only stable source of food away? Punish those caught for fraud, leave the rest alone!

There are some who argue that Food Stamps need to be reduced because they have this idea that people will only use them to buy unhealthy foods. This does not take into account that there are far too many people living in places that are food deserts: areas that are ten or more miles away from stores that sell a variety of fresh groceries [4]. Nor does it take into account that many unhealthy foods are low cost and can be bought in bulk to provide multiple meals, thus making the already limited amount of food money stretch just a little bit further. 

On behalf of myself and every individual struggling to afford food, depending on assistance because our situation is outside our control: 

Please, please! Revoke the Time Limited Food Assistance. 

1. https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html
2. http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/ 
3. https://www.forbes.com/sites/simonconstable/2018/04/04/the-facts-about-food-stamp-fraud/#42f4e969f880
4. https://www.moveforhunger.org/harsh-reality-food-deserts-america/ 

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