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Food Stamps

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The food stamp program has received a lot of press in recent years. This press has been primarily bad and focused on the downside of the program. This focus has lead to witch hunts by opponents to the food stamp program, violent outbursts when speculated food stamps fraud is seen and questions about the guidelines that help sustain the program. There have been discussions of drug testing for food stamp beneficiaries and applicants as well as discussion of regulating food stamps to exclude junk food items. One of the more recent discussions has been with family planning and food stamps.

Family Planning Consults and Food Stamps

The concept behind this new solution to food stamp issues, is to offer family planning consults. These consultations would be held during the interview process for food stamp applications. The basic idea is that family planning would discuss birth control options, housing options and other issues with larger families who are having financial difficulties and may be receiving food stamp benefits longer than most other beneficiaries.

The Problems with Family Planning and Food Stamps

There are several issues with family planning concepts and food stamps. One of the most heated debates has centered on the profiling concepts. Several organizations feel that the discussion of family planning during a food stamp interview would be considered profiling or discrimination. Others feel that the aspect of family planning consultations would somehow limit individuals freedom to have as many children or few children as they would like. This debate seeps into debates regarding low income families, the job market and if the number of children a family has should be limited.

Implementing the Family Planning Consultations

Other issues with family planning and food stamps relate to the implementation of the program itself. Though many state and county family planning offices are within the same buildings as social workers, food stamps, Medicaid and WIC there are still some offices that are not implemented this way. For states wanting to incorporate family planning into the food stamp program, several thousand or more dollars would have to be given each month to run the operations. This is not to mention that implementing and training of family planning case workers would also have to be considered.

Overall, the concept of offering family planning as part of the food stamp application process has its benefits. It will allow social workers to determine if a family has other non-food needs. If other needs are found, the consultations would lead to helping the family obtain the benefits of programs they are eligible for. The family planning concept will also allow issues to come to light that may not have in previous food stamp application meetings. The price of implementation would mean hiring more social workers, more nutritionists, more office workers and possible providing several options to help with related issues as the family moves through the application process. All of these aspects would need to be considered. The ultimate question comes down to the cost. Is the cost of this solution worth the outcome and will the solutions actually help issues many are seeing with the food stamp program.

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