SNAP cutbacks a real threat to seniors

Could Food Stamp reductions cause illness and more crime?

Gigi Tinsley | 9/26/2013, 9 a.m.
For the last few weeks, The Miami Times has received numerous calls from concerned City and County residents inquiring about ...

For the last few weeks, The Miami Times has received numerous calls from concerned City and County residents inquiring about the possibility of their monthly Food Stamp allotment being reduced or completely eliminated. As our incoming call volume continued to increase, we thought the best thing to do was to go to the source.

We contacted the local Food Stamp office and were informed to go to their website. We went online to get information about the former Food Stamp, currently called SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Association Program], to see what information we could garner. The only information available was how to apply for SNAP and the requirements. Next, we called the local AARP [American Association of Retired Persons] group that meets here in Liberty City to ascertain what information they might have heard.

Dr Mae Christian said, “the AARP group met last week at the Carrie P. Meek Senior Citizens Building but I have also spoken with Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson.”

“Senior citizens are worried about what’s going to happen to them when the SNAP cuts go into effect,” she added.

Christian cites current problems with the SNAP program including last Monday, Sept. 16, when “no one was able to use their EBT Food Stamp Cards.”

She says she was told that funds were being transferred from one bank to another, therefore causing clients to have to delay their use of the card.

With some seniors receiving minimal amount each money, often less than $20 dollars, and with more cuts looming, Christian says she hopes that Wilson will make good an earlier promise and hold a town hall meeting and she hopes those that really need to be there will attend.

There was no word from Wilson’s office about the date of the town hall meeting, but representatives assured us that one would be announced soon.

AARP President Emeritus Nancy Dawkins agrees that the community needs a town hall meeting as soon as possible.

“We must have some answers soon and we need all of our locally-elected politicians to be present,” she said. “Besides the people who serve as our voice in Tallahassee, like State Representatives Cynthia Stafford, Daphne Campbell, Sharon Pritchett and Kionne McGee, we also need State leaders, the mayors from the City and County, AARP officers and members, homeowners’ associations and other groups and elderly individuals at the meeting. I’m hoping it can be convened before the AARP national convention kicks off in Atlanta in mid-October.

“The impact that Food Stamp cuts will have on our community will be devastating,” Christian added. “Not only will criminal activity increase but just think about the seniors who will become ill from not getting enough, and in some instances, no food for days. We had better do something very soon.”

Dawkins concurred.