By Louis Tillman

Last week I read an article on which mentioned that in the city of Omaha, Nebraska there has been talk from legislators to advance a bill called LB543. This bill is purposefully meant to help in eliminating an “asset test” for eligibility of food stamp benefits. Thus, if voted on then Nebraska would join the other 36 states that don’t require an “asset test” for applicant to apply for food stamps. An “asset test” is when applicants are required to list all of their assets when applying for food stamps. mentions that food stamps, also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), help in feeding over 46 million people with healthy food each and every month.  The purpose of SNAP is to provide the means to increase food purchasing power to raise the nutritional level among low income households and is the first line of defense against hunger for millions of families. mentions that typically speaking; to qualify for Food Stamps family household resources cannot exceed $2,000 per year, or $3,000 a year for those who are elderly or disabled. The resources that are being identified are things such as the following: checking accounts, savings accounts, personal property, vehicles, tangible assets, intangible assets, recreational properties, IRA’s, stocks, bonds, and or cash on hand. There is however a loophole in this system where there are 29 exemptions that includes such things as: applicant’s homes and surrounding property, pets, and or clothing.

This bill was introduced by Omaha’s Senator Tanya Cook in 2011. She let legislators know that even though the program had great benefits in helping those who were less fortunate, that it also had very severe repercussions for those who violated any parts in the system. Thus this should help in administrating the people whose intent is to “cheat” the system by any means necessary. The bill passed on a 35-2 vote, making Nebraska the 37th state in the U.S. to be able to eliminate an “asset test” for those who wanted to apply for food stamps.

I personally think that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a phenomenal benefit provided by the government for those who are in dire assistance of this program. There are many positive benefits when it comes to SNAP. Poverty is all around us, wherever we look on a daily basis, and I myself always wonder how people got there to begin with. There are many of those who were born into it, and that makes it quite arduous for them to somehow make a positive future for themselves while they are coming from nothing. Thus I believe that helping those in need of food stamps is a strong benefit by our nation to aid those in need.

For those who were born into poverty or are elderly and cannot provide for themselves, I feel that SNAP is a great program that is definitely intended for them. I mainly say this because there are many elderly senior citizens in the U.S. that have their Social Security check as their only income, and they can never afford to solely live off of that in the long run. With SNAP being in place, it can help them by being able to provide them with more nutrition so that they can live longer and provide for themselves longer. This could raise a serious question: “Could we be one step closer in ending poverty and hunger in the United States?” My answer to that question would be yes, because we now have 37 states on board with this plan which is almost seventy five percent of the nation. I feel that once we get to ninety percent we will soon see an astronomical change in the amount of poverty and hunger that we see in the nation.

I am in favor of this decision by the state of Nebraska because I feel that it isn’t right for those who were born into poverty, those who are mentally or physically ill, and/or those who are elderly to have to go through such a rigorous task in order to receive food stamps just to survive for the month. I feel as though these individuals are those who should be able to easily apply for food stamps to some degree. In essence, I would strongly recommend that everyone who is actively seeking employment should be able to easily apply for food stamps with little to no problems at all.

–Respectfully submitted by Louis Tillman, World Hunger Intern, and Senior at Carthage College pursuing BA in Business Management and Public Relations