First-person essays and interviews with unique perspectives on complicated issues.
Each week, spend an hour and a half helping fill bags with frozen meat, cans of soup, boxes of mac and cheese, and handfuls of fruit for clients at my agency on Chicago’s North Side. For many of the clients at my food pantry internship, this limited assistance is the difference between unbearable hunger and just being able to scrape by.
Now, I’m worried I’ll see busier pantry days. In December, the US Department of Agriculture approved new rules that will require able-bodied adults without children to work 20 hours a week, or participate in a job-search program, in order to receive SNAP benefits. This is expected to remove 700,000 people from the federal food stamp program. Many social service organizations are already feeling the strain as more people seek services due to the triple whammy of low wages, rising rents, and a stream of cuts to social welfare programs. My concern isn’t just for my clients: I know firsthand how cruel this change in policy is. As a graduate student in social work, I have experienced it personally.
So much of our public discourse about SNAP misses the mark because we only see one facet of the hunger crisis in America. When the argument about who “deserves” financial assistance in order to eat — something we must all do to live — is framed as “lazy slacker living off the system” versus the “deserving poor,” we forget all the invisible people in the middle of this spectrum of stereotypes: the teacher who has a second job just to make ends meet, the newspaper reporter with an overdrawn bank account, or the social work intern who only got a decent winter coat because her friends and synagogue raised the money.
These are people who do vital work in our society, yet they are often compensated very little and face food insecurity as a result. While many of these people might meet the new work requirements, they could lose benefits in the future if policymakers continue to go down this path of restricting SNAP eligibility by increasing qualifying criteria.
Then there are the part-time social services workers — graduate students like myself — who could be disqualified from SNAP. In 2017, I enrolled at my local community college so I could take social science classes in order to gain admission to a master of the social work program. I was working 15 hours a week at an after-school program and barely managing to pay my rent and bills on time. Shortly after the beginning of the semester, I received a worrying notice from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services: My SNAP benefits would be eliminated if I did not work at least 20 hours a week.
When I called my caseworker to explain my situation, I got a disheartening response: I did not meet the limited eligibility requirements for college students to receive SNAP — which includes working 20 hours a week and/or caring for dependents, or receiving other types of assistance — and my benefits would be cut. My desire to get more education so I could enroll in graduate school left me scrambling to figure out how to replace $160 in my already disastrous monthly budget. I still do not qualify for SNAP now as a graduate student (my current internship is unpaid), so I am back doing that awkward dance of trying to navigate a messy patchwork of food and nutrition resources.
Even more complicated is having to contend with the contradictory norms and codes of ethics of the social work profession that interfere with needing assistance. A Seattle social worker recently posted on the popular /r/legaladvice subreddit that her boss threatened to fire her because some of her clients saw her receiving services at the local food bank they frequent. In her post, she stated that she makes $29,000 a year, and that she and her husband live paycheck to paycheck. Her boss was concerned that she was “gaming the system” by using community resources for her family during a financial crisis and that it was unethical for her to be going to the same food pantries she refers clients to (which she points out are “pretty much all of them in the city”).
I ran into this ethical dilemma when I faced a major financial crisis near the end of the semester, just as it was starting to get cold in Chicago, and i badly needed a winter coat. A friend earnestly suggested I contact a popular social service agency in my area. It was the same one many of my clients go to, funded in part by my agency’s parent organization. What if I ran into a client? Would this be a conflict of interest?
My colleague Alex Kelley, a social worker and community organizer based in Michigan, shares my concerns and frustrations. “There’s a fundamental misinterpretation in prohibiting social workers from seeking services themselves. In many communities, the same risks happen at grocery stores, doctor’s offices, etc. If risks to confidentiality can be mitigated there, they can be mitigated at a food bank,” he said.
Samantha Greene, a licensed clinical social worker working independently in Texas, mentioned how location can also exacerbate these conflicts. “In rural communities, where resources tend to be less, this puts an extra strain on social workers who may find themselves needing a service only provided by one entity in the area.”
Economic insecurity among social service workers is one of those things people talk about at length privately, but the profession fails to address it publicly. Fellow social workers in the field talk about how low wages have personally impacted them, or how their coworkers are all independently wealthy “because how else could you afford to work here with this salary.” The median social work salary in 2018 was $49,470, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which includes high-income regions such as the Bay Area. We also can’t forget that most agencies, hospitals, and clinics rely on social work interns who get paid nothing to provide vital services to clients and communities.
(Unfortunately, there is no research or data devoted to SNAP enrollment among social workers, or financial backgrounds of social workers or social work students. It’s almost as though the entire field has built its own wall of silence around this issue.)
In his essay “Social Services or Social Change?” writer, activist, and violence prevention specialist Paul Kivel described how social service workers are designed to be a “buffer zone” between poor people and those who control unjust systems. Creating a field of professionals to be that barrier prevents social workers and clients from seeing how much they have in common with each other — and how politically aligned they could be. Establishing and respecting appropriate boundaries is important to keep both social workers and clients safe, but the social work field must also contend with these broader issues within the profession.
We need to rethink why our state and federal policies around programs like SNAP are designed to subdivide recipients based on completely ridiculous standards of “deservingness.” We need to be willing to confront the complex web of social, cultural, and political attitudes that motivate this cruelty and exacerbate our nation’s failure to end hunger for all. Before making judgments about SNAP recipients, consider that the person in front of you buying their groceries with SNAP could be someone working to make these programs better.
Elena Gormley is a master of social work candidate at the University of Illinois-Chicago Jane Addams College of Social Work. Her work can also be found on Vice, Alma, JTA, and Jewish Currents.
I rarely post about Trump anymore because the media has been covering him well if not concurrently. Over the weekend the media started questioning Biden and his dead son instead to go to the man seeking dirt and willing to pay with US Currency wether dollars or guns.
There are times they get sided track and one has to remind them and the voters how this man is trying to enrich himself and family and how he steps on the eagle and spits on the flag faking a kiss every time of all the time. Here is a list backed up with the incidents in which you can easily read it and get your sense of decency and fairness in a titzy, to nearly explode.
We have always known there is a percentage of people in this country, like in any country, Germany with its radicals skinheads or Britain and its divisions with Brexit.
This particular percentage of people have brains that get to work on seeing what has been constructed to cave in, to break, destroy. If this was heaven and there were only perfection this percentage of people would be bitching that the a/c is too cold or the lights too bright and god needs help, a second in command or to just retire altogether, lets make heaven a 'Trump Palace', well maybe not that because the last time someone ran it to the ground. But let's give it something with a good Spanish sounding name like "Karajo Trumps". Perfecto!
But if you belief in the Bible you know it says that stuff kinda happened already. Well, that is how these people are and what they did and what god did to them in return. Don't mess with the big guy if carries 55% of the vote.
They say they need health care but want to take it away from everyone even if they loose it themselves. Yes, some ae just so stupid but not all. Some get their kicks in being able able to ejaculate when someone else gets it in the head by bricks falling down because Maria the Puerto Rican Storm, even if the same storm is coming for them. Maybe they thing rolls of papaer towels will mitigate the impact of the bricks hitting their head.. I don't think there is a science to give a precise number but because we have a man that destroys and is heading the govenment we can see his followers belong to the ones that like to destroy other people, environment, earth, etc. .................35% ......seems to me like a more than fair number.
Now, this nation is never divided equally in the way it votes. If 35% voted one way you will think that at least 55% will vote the other way more or less.
This list is here for those 55% + to remember. I love history because it tells me the weather for next week. I hope we start showing already that 35-45% are just that numbers in a minority. Yes, there will be cheating but you can't hide the majority if the majority does not let it happen. Now to the He ⟴ facts
He told four women of color, all citizens and members of Congress, to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.”
He made a joke about Pocahontas during a ceremony honoringNative American World War II veterans.
He launched his political career by falsely claiming that the first black president was not really American.
He launched his presidential campaign by describing Mexicans as “rapists.”
He has described women, variously, as “a dog,” “a pig” and “horseface,” as well as “bleeding badly from a facelift” and having “blood coming out of her wherever.”
He has been accused of sexual assault or misconduct by multiple women.
He enthusiastically campaigned for a Senate candidate who was accused of molesting multiple teenage girls.
He waved around his arms while giving a speech, to ridicule a physically disabled person.
He has encouraged his supporters to commit violence against his political opponents.
He has called for his opponents and critics to be investigated and jailed.
He uses a phrase popular with dictators — “the enemy of the people” — to describe journalists.
He attempts to undermine any independent source of information that he does not like, including judges, scientists, journalists, election officials, the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Congressional Budget Office, and the National Weather Service.
He has tried to harass the chairman of the Federal Reserve into lowering interest rates.
He said that a judge could not be objective because of his Mexican heritage.
He obstructed justice by trying to influence an investigation into his presidential campaign.
He violated federal law by directing his lawyer to pay $280,000 in hush money to cover up to two apparent extramarital affairs.
He made his fortune partly through wide-scale financial fraud.
He has refused to release his tax returns.
H- falsely accused his predecessor of wiretapping him.
H- claimed that federal law-enforcement agents and prosecutors regularly fabricated evidence, thereby damaging the credibility of criminal investigations across the country.
H- has ordered children to be physically separated from their parents.
H- has suggested that America is no different from or better than Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
“WWhat do I know about branding[?]” Donald Trump musedon Twitter, early on Monday morning. “Maybe nothing […] but if I were Boeing, I would FIX the Boeing 737 MAX, add some additional great features, & REBRAND the plane with a new name.”
In 1989, Trump bought an airline and branded it with his name. He then lost more than $100m in 18 months and was forced to shut the operation down after three years.
The president has a long track record of running Trump-branded businesses into the ground, whether through bankruptcy, lawsuits or sweeping incompetence.
The airline, Trump Shuttle, launched in June 1989. It was billed – by Trump – as a “diamond in the sky”. Two months later, one of his planes was forced to make an emergency landing in Boston when its nose gear – the front wheels – would not come down. Things didn’t get much better after that.
Trump paid $365m for Eastern Airlines, which had gone bankrupt. But its 21 planes were ageing and as the Washington Post reported: “Trump’s team estimated that they overpaid $65m for the operation.”
According to Business Insider, after a year and a half Trump Shuttle had lost $128m, due to a combination of oil prices rising thanks to the Gulf war and the folly of Trump spending $1m on cladding each aircraft with gold fixtures and impractically plush carpets.
Less than three years after he bought the airline, Trump handed it to USAir. It stripped his name from the planes. Another Trump-branded business had failed.
Among other such ventures, Trump magazine folded after 18 months, Trump Mortgage about the same. Trump Vodka – Vice said, “It tastes awful” – lasted about four years. It turned out no one wanted to play – or buy – Trump: The Game.
Trump University, an endeavor described as a “straight-up fraud” by the New York attorney general, went out of business after former students sued. Trump ended up having to pay a $25m settlement.
“You can’t con people, at least not for long,” Trump noted in his ghostwrittenbestselling book, The Art of the Deal.
“You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole.
“But if you don’t deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.”
Trump has rarely followed his own advice. For Boeing, unlike his counsel on branding, it might make sense.