Last week I asked the question how, given our nation’s’ extensive social safety net, it is possible that children in Virginia go hungry and suffer from malnutrition. Are government support payments deficient? Are food deserts to blame? Do people squander their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) stipends? Is something else going on? The explanations we hear from the usual sources don’t seem to add up.
That piece triggered a response from Robin Mathews, who worked with recipients of SNAP and WIC programs as an employee in the nonprofit sector for several years. “I feel like I’ve seen just about all,” she says. Here are key points she makes in response to specific questions I raised in the post. (I have reproduced her comments here with light editing.)
Eligibility for SNAP. Unemployment rates are low but the income guidelines are stringent; a single parent with two children working full time at Amazon earning $15 an hour would not qualify for SNAP or WIC so these programs may be intended to supplement the “working poor” families.
Could single mothers’ budgets be stretched by live-in boyfriends who don’t qualify for food stamps? Of course, but what I see more often in public and subsidized housing is the “live in” who is not always a boyfriend but a “boarder” who has income (sometimes from selling drugs and guns) to pay for items not covered by SNAP and contributes this in exchange for the room and board/food he receives from the recipient who is eligible.
Could drug addicts be selling their allowances for cash? Not only do drug addicts sell allowances, so do unemployed individuals needing cash to pay their rent. As you know, RRHA has the highest eviction rate in our city. Here are three “approved” SNAP vendors where I have witnessed recipients conduct a “transaction” and receive cash back:
Is the magnitude of the problem being exaggerated by a professional caring class whose livelihoods depend upon fostering a sense of crisis? Although I agree there is a need to supplement the diets for the children of the “working poor” to assist their parents in being financially self-sustaining, I strongly believe the “problem” is most definitely exaggerated as a result of multiple nonprofits trying to stay in business and increase their executives’ salaries.
- The VA DOE Summer Food Program provides meals through the public schools and parks and recreation.
- Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) supports meals provided through Petersburg schools.
- The USDA supports Hanover and Henrico. (These counties don’t have the texting option.)
- Feed More has a summer food program. During the school year Feed More supports after school programs in low-income communities and provides children with backpacks of food for the weekends. The administrative costs to operate this program are paid by USDA. All food distributed from Feed More is donated.
The current Executive Chairman, Billy Shore earned $324,727 and his sister, Debbie Shore (Executive Leadership), earned $228,166, while Thomas Nelson, president and CEO, earned $448,080. I find that excessive for an organization that “connects” people to state and federal resources that already exist. Why can’t local governments or other nonprofits do this themselves?
Feed More has fewer than 100 employees and pays $1,121,739 to 5 executives. Its CEO earned $253,132 in FY 2017.
After having worked for the Virginia Department of Taxation and various nonprofits, I learned more than I care to about what goes on behind the scenes and it is discouraging.
Robin Mathews, a Richmond resident, worked for the nonprofit Richmond Outreach Center and Cross Over Healthcare. She now does accounting for a small, family-owned business.There are currently no comments highlighted.