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During the April 21 meeting of the County Board of Supervisors, 17 speakers opposed a plan to bolster the use of food stamps throughout the county. Those who opposed want to factor in the recommendations from a recent study conducted by advocacy groups who work closely with low-income families.

The two low-income advocacy groups, the Caring Council and the Supportive Parents Initiative Network (SPIN), believe strategies that prevent food-stamp fraud — such as fingerprinting and occasional home searches — prevent families from applying for assistance. The advocacy groups say fraud prevention and poor service at welfare offices account for the county’s low ranking in providing food stamps.

At the beginning of the public comment portion of the meeting, Nathan Batchelder, committee consultant for the City of San Diego’s Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee and staff member for District 7, read a statement from councilmembers Marti Emerald and Todd Gloria, asking supervisors to consider scaling back some of the costly fraud-prevention strategies.

“According to SPIN’s Hunger and Food Stamp Study, San Diego County spends approximately 11.4 million dollars in taxpayer money to subsidize its fingerprinting program…. The county is allowed to waive this requirement, thereby saving millions of dollars in administrative costs and removing the stigma and fear associated with receiving food assistance. We urge the county to reevaluate the need for these costly and ineffective programs, as the figures show they have only hindered our ability to provide help where it is needed most.”

After Batchelder read the statements from Gloria and Emerald, and after over an hour of public testimony, supervisor Ron Roberts (who, along with supervisor Bill Horn brought the issue of food-stamp reform to the fore) still had the statement from city council members Emerald and Gloria on his mind.

“There’s a lot of elected officials out there making a lot of fuss, but they don’t put any money into these things,” said Roberts, referring to the statement from the council members. “They kind of coach it from the sidelines, usually from organizations that are damn near bankrupt anyway, so you can’t expect them to put anything in, but they still do a lot of coaching from the sidelines.

“Some elected officials would like us to believe that it is from their pulpits that some of this is getting done. We have increased the enrollment [by] 25 percent in the last 12 months,” continued Roberts during his ten-minute-long address.

The supervisor went on to say that it was over a year ago when he supported the use of food stamps at farmers' markets.

“That didn’t come from anyone else’s recommendation; that came about from this board’s interest and working with the local farmers' organization.”

After concluding, Bill Horn took over, this time directing criticism at efforts to stall the reforms.

“I hear a lot of speakers saying we have an urgent problem, but we have to delay it. Well, if we have an urgent problem, I don’t think we ought to delay it,” said Horn. “This is the first group I’ve ever heard ask a bureaucracy to slow down and not do something when it had an urgent matter before it. So, I want to thank you folks for becoming the first.”

For more on the newly released study from the low-income advocacy groups, the Caring Council and Supportive Parents Initiative Network, visit their respective websites at caringcouncilsd.org and spinsandiego.org. To view the county’s new plan, go to sdcounty.ca.gov.

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Comments

Reader_reader May 8, 2009 @ 2:36 p.m.

Uh...what exactly are they looking for in these home searches?

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robertlutroo April 22, 2009 @ 6:57 p.m.

"Help where it is needed most" and "stigma and fear associated with receiving food assistance" is Code for benefits for Illegal aliens. Stop amnesty city now

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bluenwhitegokart April 24, 2009 @ midnight

Higher than the national average welfare benefits, easy access to same, combined with the climate, is what started the invasion of our once beautiful state back in the early to mid 70's. They came from the upper mid-west and the east, mostly.

They were loud-mouthed, rude, obnoxious people; self-centered, unfeeling, uncaring, slobs who despoiled the culture and the landscape. They were typified by the stereotypical New Yorker.

They, with their laziness, encouraged the decline of the work ethic amongst Californios, and the increased dependence on cheap labor. Their credo was "price is more important than quality," and their mindset was "how can I get over (on everyone else)?" They turned their areas of the country into dirty, dangerous, over-crowded slums, and they're well on their way to doing the same with our beloved state. Who said isolationism was a bad thing?

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x_acto April 24, 2009 @ 11:31 a.m.

Who need U.S. currency anyway. give 'em all food stamps, Wal-mart already takes peso's down by the border. lay off all the teachers too, that way no one knows how to find a job. Isolation is a great idea if we'd stick with it, and I'm talking about the U.S/Mexico border.

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bluenwhitegokart April 25, 2009 @ 2:24 a.m.

Let's send Spain the bill. Without their imperialism, there would be no Mexicans. You can see where this is going.

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Naomi Wise April 28, 2009 @ 11:55 p.m.

First, illegal aliens can't get on ANY welfare program, including Food Stamps. Second, the reason the Food Steap program falls under the aegis of the US Dept. of Agriculture (not Health & Welfare) is that it was designed to be primarily a welfare program for American farmers -- to allow Americans to buy US-grown foodstuffs. (As if Big Ag doesn't already get huge subsidies, bringing us fab goodies like high-fructose corn syrup and Roundup resistant soybeans.) What makes you think it's Mexicans or other (god forbid) non-native Californians using Food Stamps? Huge numbers of every ethnicity have lost jobs. Malnourishment affects kids'intelligence & learning ability-- you want lots of brain-damaged adults coming out of this recession in 10 years? You love the thought of starving children? SD administers Food Stamps like it's a "get into jail free" program, with fingerprinting and paranoia worthy of a family visit to San Quentin. Doesn't stop hunger, just makes it deeply humiliating to try and feed the kids.

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hildachan May 8, 2009 @ 2:19 p.m.

"The two low-income advocacy groups...believe strategies that prevent food-stamp fraud — such as fingerprinting and occasional home searches — prevent families from applying for assistance."

The statement that home searches are "occasional" is misleading. It is true that food stamp-only cases are only subject to home searches occasionally (because it is illegal for food stamp-only applicants that have no suspicion of fraud to be subject to a search). About 5% of food stamp-only cases have inconsistencies that cause them to be referred to the DA's Office for investigation.

However, while that 5% figure sounds low and "occasional," the truth is that most poor people apply for cash aid, food stamps, and Medi-Cal all at once. In such applications, ALL food stamp applicants are subject to home searches. Many, many, many more than just 5% of persons applying for food stamps must submit to mandatory, unannounced, warrantless Project 100% home searches.

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