More specifically, a record 1.43 million Alabamians received food stamps in May from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program — the most ever recorded by the state Department of Human Resources. It’s also a sign of how widespread the need for basic aid is in modern-day Alabama.
In this proud and self-reliant state, you can only wonder how many others are out there who need assistance and are too proud to ask.
DHR officials said the rise in food-stamp use is partially attributed to the jobs lost after the April 27 tornadoes. But even with those applications factored out, this reliance on food stamps to get by underscores what we already know. Many Alabamians are hurting.
That said, it’s unfortunate that tales of food-stamp abuse are often heard. A June 23 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal dwelt on the ways people were taking advantage of the system and raised questions about some of the rules that govern the program. It also mentioned how, with the budget cuts already in place, there are too few regulators on the job to stop the corruption.
However, Alabama was not one of the states cited for widespread fraud. Though there may be some who take the stamps and trade them for liquor or drugs, most don’t. Instead, they use them for the purpose intended — to buy food.
Today, nearly one-third of Alabamians are doing that.
When Gov. Robert Bentley and the Republican-controlled Legislature arrived in Montgomery, they vowed that creating jobs would be their first priority.
Well, where are the jobs? Where are the bills that would create jobs? We can complain and point fingers at Washington because there is plenty of blame to go around. But the fact remains that apart from occasional talk about trickle-down tax breaks for “job creators,” the governor and the legislators have not been vocal enough on the issue.
Alabama can no longer sit by and condemn so many to life on the dole. If the governor and the Legislature have a viable plan for putting people to work, they need to set it in motion. If they have no plan, if all of this “top priority” talk is just that — talk — they had best get out of the way and make room for those who have a plan and are willing to put it before a waiting public.
This is not the time for inaction.