The 2014 farm bill, which was signed into law by President Obama last Friday, deals a devastating blow to food stamp recipients. The farm bill, which is enacted every five years, allocates federal dollars to various agricultural and food programs across the country. But this year’s bill unfairly favors food producing giants at the expense of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known more commonly by the acronym of SNAP. SNAP provides underprivileged Americans with food stamps so that they don’t go hungry. But the 2014 farm bill reduces SNAP’s funding by $8.7 billion over the next 10 years. At the same time, programs such as the subsidized crop insurance program, which benefit the farming industry, will see a $6 billion increase in funding.
Reaction to this news has been mixed. In an article for Takepart.org, Willy Blackmore lambasted the bill, saying that it threatens an already vulnerable population. Blackmore notes that SNAP recipients already had their benefits reduced by an average of $38 back in November, when stimulus funding for SNAP ended. He says that these new cuts in the farm bill will further reduce the average SNAP recipient’s benefits by an additional $90. He also criticizes the fact that 10% of farmers receive 75% of the new farming subsidies.
However, Bill Tomson of Politico says that this year’s farming bill doesn’t coddle the farming industry as much as it did in the past. Tomson says that about $5 billion used to be given to farmers, whether they really needed it or not. But this year’s bill will only allot money to farmers who struggle with a bad growing season or a drop in agricultural problems. He also notes that President Obama, while hesitant about the SNAP cuts, has endorsed the bill. During a speech at Michigan State University on Friday, Obama said that “[the bill] helps rural communities grow, gives farmers some certainty [and] puts in place important reforms.”
Locally, the farm bill could impact the nearly 700,000 SNAP recipients in Philadelphia. It also threatens “heat and eat” programs throughout Pennsylvania that offer extra SNAP benefits to those that need heating assistance.
On Saturday, I walked down a small stretch of Chew Avenue and quickly discovered a diverse collection of restaurants and food stores. The corner shops, restaurants, and grocery stores all catered to different needs and desires. Here is a look at four of the places that I saw today. I used the camera built into my iPhone 4S to take these photos. They all have 400 x 534 dimensions, except for The Fresh Grocer photo, which as 400 x 300 dimensions. Every photo has a resolution of 72 pixels per inch.
Happy Fortune: Chinese and American Food, 2145 Elkins Ave.
Happy Fortune, a small-sized restaurant just a couple of blocks away from La Salle’s main campus, is multicultural. It serves both classic Chinese dishes and traditional American food. This makes it appealing to a wide audience, so they serve a diverse clientele base with many tastes. The “Grand Opening” banner on the second floor is rather misleading though; Happy Fortune has been at this location on Elkins Ave. for some time. Nevertheless, it’s a good place to go if you’re looking for a quick lunch or a takeout dinner.
The Fresh Grocer, 5301 Chew Ave.
The Fresh Grocer is a beloved business in the Germantown area. It is also a vital partner with La Salle University’s Exploring Nutrition program. The Fresh Grocer serves a wide array of healthy food and vegetables to customers. It has become a vital business Germantown, because it is one of the few places in the area the prioritizes healthy eating and makes nutritious food readily available. Even on a cold Saturday morning, the store was a busy hub of activity.
Dunkin’ Donuts, 5301 Chew Ave.
Ironically, this Dunkin’ Donuts was directly next door to The Fresh Grocer. This nationally known doughnut and coffeehouse chain serves a variety of sugary treats and caffeinated beverages. It’s a good place to grab a filling, albeit unhealthy, breakfast to go. This particular Dunkin’ Donuts had a drive thru window, which makes ordering even more expedient. There were quite a few customers inside, but it wasn’t as busy as The Fresh Grocer.
Wister Beer Distributor, 2100 Conlyn St.
This beer distributor is tucked away behind The Shoppes at La Salle. It advertises “cold beer, sodas, snacks, cigarettes” on a sign above the front door. Small corner stores like these are a common sight in Germantown. Typically, they serve as miniature convenience stores. This means that, while they do serve food and drinks, their selections aren’t very healthy. Wister Beer Distributor was pretty much empty this morning, but that’s to be expected early in the morning.