For new readers - my sister and I are co-guardians of our older brother, who is autistic. We recently wrapped up work on his Person Centered Plan for the next 12 months. Part of working on the plan involves a review of his finances to make sure everything is in order.
I’ve written a lot about the challenge of balancing my role as guardian with my longing to have more time to be a sister. In the last month it feels like I’ve fallen short – I spent a hell of a lot more time knee deep in guardianship paperwork than hanging out with Bill.
But nothing drives home how important our guardianship is like looking at the money.
Contrary to popular belief, a diverse group of people receives food assistance from our government. My brother is one of that number…along with many military families, working folk, seniors and disabled persons.
And also contrary to popular belief, folks getting food assistance aren’t eating steak and lobster for lunch.
My brother receives $160 a month in food assistance. That hasn’t been increased in…well, not since we became his guardians. He’s on a special diet for health reasons...and that doesn’t mean a damn thing to the formula.
When the cost of milk goes up we have to deal with it…when his dietitian mandates more fresh veggies we have to strategize for it…and when Newt Gingrich rants about food stamps as if cutting funding is no biggie, he’s indulging in a public display of ignorance that attempts to insult and shame recipients even as his proposal puts the already anemic monthly allowance at risk.
Gingrich would like to shape the discussion as a choice between food assistance and jobs…he’s taken to Twitter to launch a 140 character messaging attack against Democrats that is built on the American myth that hunger is a motivator, only unemployed lazy people at ease feeding from the government tit receive food assistance and only a failure would need to apply for food assistance.
But we’re not being asked to decide between food assistance and jobs.
Let’s keep it real - when food assistance is up for debate the choice is between hunger and food.