Ada Fisher: Coronavirus changes conversation around government assistance

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 19, 2020

Any thoughts of abandoning the SNAP program for school children who live beneath the poverty line are ill-conceived, particularly now.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is the basis of the school lunch program, which feeds millions of needy school children with remarkably good lunches. These meals hit four food groups, featuring a meat, vegetable, fruit and milk. For breakfast, it includes a fortified muffin incorporating “everything but the kitchen sink.” We must not take food from the mouth’s of babes.

Now that schools are generally out across the nation, school buses in North Carolina demonstrate a best practice in delivering lunches to bus stops, available for all children, while the schools remain open with limited accommodations during the day. For too many of our children, these are the only nutritious foods available to them. Earlier talk of cutbacks or reducing the foods in them should not be considered. Unlike previous Reagan administration statements, ketchup is not a vegetable. If folks had read a book, they would have known that tomatoes are fruits.

 Our coronavirus predicament shows the need for some national accommodations relative to the availability of food.

Food may be there in some markets, but if you’re not working how will one pay for it? If this viral penetration drags its devastating morbidity and mortality on for more than a month, some type of monthly paycheck may have to be instituted nationally of, say, $1,000.

Why is former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang not more solicited by the media to discuss his Freedom Dividend idea, which would cover some of the same thing? The ideas of socialism have been much pooh-poohed by the right. The coronavirus has done much to say it may be time to show us a better alternative or watch socialist ideas flourish.

If you watch recipients of food stamps, many have turned them into an underground currency of exchange. Some food stamps were sold for cash. Or, food was purchased for others and sold for cash. When stamps were issued in tear off books, people used these stamps like money to pay rent or meet other obligations.

Maybe it is time to look at bundling programs to people receiving multiple sources of assistance — Section eight housing, Medicaid, transportation, food and medicines. Supplemental national assistance programs are becoming a new look that will grow if viable alternatives are not developed. Unchecked, they will further bankrupt our nation — just look at Venezuela’s collapsed economy. England has increasingly restricted services from their National Health Service. And there are many more prescient examples.

In general, able-bodied people should not have been allowed in these programs if they could work but wouldn’t. However there are now people excluded from jobs as there is no work to do. Are we willing to just let people starve? This nation is capable of doing better. Now is the time for entrepreneurs to step forth and for policy think tanks to be expanded to include those from the rank and file.

Different solutions are needed and, maybe, different people may bring them.

Salisbury’s Ada Fisher is a former licensed teacher, retired physician, former school board member and current N.C. Republican national committeewoman.