Volunteers from one of our local food shelves travelled to Washington DC recently to meet with Senator John Boozman and Congressman Steve Womack. The purpose of the visit was to provide our representatives with information about the operation of the Loaves and Fishes, Flint Street, Harvest Assembly, and Bethel food shelves.
Instead of listening to these volunteers, Congressman Womack lectured them. He said local charities and government needed to treat food shelf users like "a college kid who misused the family credit card. You need to cut up the card," he said. "You need to figure out how to fund these programs locally because the Federal government hasn't got any more money."
Steve Womack, like John Boozman by the way, supports a bill that would continue subsidies to corporate farms that report more than $1,500,000.00 in annual revenue. In Arkansas, these subsidies amount to about $10 billion dollars since 1995. Most farm workers working on these operations make so little in wages that they qualify for food stamps; Womack wants to cut funding for that program too.
I work at Loaves and Fishes, the Berryville food shelf, every Friday. This past Friday, November 4th, volunteers from First Christian Church Berryville served 56 families from Green Forest, Eureka Springs, Oak Grove, and Berryville. I did client intakes which involves checking eligibility. It is important that we make sure that people using the food shelf are authentically in need.
Most of these 56 families were comprised of people on old age social security or social security disability. The average income for a family of five was $1,095.00 a month. One single man came in for assistance; he was recovering from open heart surgery and pulled an oxygen tank behind him. I won't bore you with more sad stories but, rest assured, no one had a credit card I could cut up.
I agree with Womack that we need to cut spending. I don't think that anyone, Democrat, Independent, or Republican disagrees with that fact. But it does matter where we cut. Womack thinks we should take food away from the old and disabled and poor but let large agribusiness stay on welfare. I think that is indecent.