Sunday, October 16, 2011


I learned about the United States Department of Agriculture's food surplus program back in high school days. That was a long time ago and details are fuzzy in my mind. I vaguely recall seeing big blocks of wrapped cheese, or powdered milk labeled "USDA not for resale" somewhere. Possibly at my exes Great Aunt Vernie's house. Or maybe my oldest sister, Ruth Anne had them. The words Food Bank were not in my vocabulary all those years ago.

I saw more of those USDA freebies when I volunteered at the Samoan church's food bank program. I read the required posted sign. People who were given these government freebies needed to show ID and proof of income.That rule was violated. People signed a sheet of paper, with name, address, size of family, then stood in line to pick up their bags of groceries. Much of it came from local services that picked up day old baked goods, excess (often rotting) produce, and stuff restaurants used to throw in dumpsters at business day's end.

Since my memory is fuzzy, I did a Google search and found downsizing the Federal Government Food Subsidies.  It states: Food subsidies will cost taxpayers
 $79 billion in fiscal 2009 and account for about two-thirds of USDA’s budget. Or the info given is not up-to-date. But it refreshed my memory a tad; that the U.S. government would buy surplus from farmers, package it and then give the goods away for free to low income citizens.

I think it was a good program; helped farmers and helped feed hungry citizens. When I still paid income taxes, I know I would prefer those tax dollars be used to feed people rather than to kill strangers in foreign lands. Yet seventy-nine billion sounds like a lot more money than would be needed to ensure all citizens are able to eat everyday. I am quite sure some of those billions are used for administrative costs. Surely some of those tax dollars are paying people to work the program, that is, packaging and transporting the farmer's produce.

When people hear budget amounts, such as this, I think they tend to overlook those amounts include paychecks and jobs created. It is not only the poor who benefit from food subsidies, but those who have jobs on account of them. Ditch that type program, more people are unemployed.

Just some food for thought for Blog Action Day 2011, whose theme this year is food.

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