A Heartbreaking Choice for Moms: Food or a Family’s Future

We’ve studied mothers struggling to feed their kids. Trump’s new rule will scare immigrant families into going without.

Comments: 95

  1. If people want to immigrate to Canada, they need to have (for themselves, not to pay an "entrance fee" or anything like that) $50,000. They also have to demonstrate that they have the means to provide for themselves for a year. So even if they have the altruistic inclination to give their children a better life in Canada, they need to be able to provide for their family For. A. Year. Sounds good to me. So if you can't support your kids in your country, why should we pay to support your family - and you - here? Never mind why did you have kids that you couldn't afford to support in the first place? We have plenty of tired, poor, huddled, homeless, tempest-tossed American citizens living on our streets who we need to take care of.

  2. @Nadia If the immigrants from south of the border had a nest egg of $50,000, maybe they'd choose to not come north? But how many in those impoverished, violent countries could amass a 50 grand fortune? How many do show up at our border with $50,000 (or more) who aren't into the drug trade? Would the family in this op-ed feel some relief if it had a spare 50,000? For a substantial number of our citizens, $50,000 in the bank is . . . peanuts.

  3. @Nadia So, are we taking care of "our" tiredpoorhuddledhomess, etc. as you recommend? Should the federal government move to positively care for them?

  4. @Nadia, yes we have many to take care of who are living on our streets. But we still do not have the will to do so. Thanks, religious right.

  5. What about American born citizens who must choose between feeding their families and going without. Many of these families are not entitled to any government benefits and are struggling. Why should immigrants legal or illegal come before Americans who were born here. Many of these immigrants arrive here just so they can receive free things. We cannot feed these people and President Trump's policy makes perfect sense. Also the woman in this article had a partner who was here illegally. He should be sent back home immediately.

  6. @KMW, anyone, citizen, or legal resident, who falls under the minimum income levels qualifies for SNAP, anyone. There are no American citizens in this income category who are ineligible, that is a lie.

  7. @Doug Giebel The income levels for food stamp eligibility are relatively low. Family income has to be below 1.3 times the poverty level. In a household with two working parents who work on-the-books for employers who pay payroll taxes and withhold income taxes, it's pretty easy for the household income to go over the threshold, and to not be eligible for food stamps. In households where one or more parent is getting paid tax-free off-the-books, they scam the system and get benefits not deserved. The problem applies to households that contain only American citizens as well as households containing illegal aliens. If this is the case in the reported anecdote, it wouldn't matter whether he is deported or not, because they are not acknowledging his income anyway.

  8. @KMW Her children are American citizens. They were born here. The size of her family is her business, not yours. Show some compassion. Please.

  9. I don't want to see anyone, particularly a child go hungry. But everyone I know had the number of kids they could afford. Why have 5 kids if you're struggling to pay for food, and the breadwinner is often out of work.

  10. @Talbot Reason not the need? Perhaps those you know were never "struggling" as many (immigrants and citizens) have been struggling. And at times, with no children or many, folks fall on those ever-possible Hard Times. For some, the kids grow up and help support the family? For some, they believe their religion prevents contraception? For some, S(tuff) Happens. Many are born, but how many are chosen?

  11. @Talbot As an former refugee now citizen, I agree with you. There are many thing I disagree with Trump about but one thing I wish the Dems and other candidates would consider is abolishing citizenship merely because someone is born here regardless of whether that persons' parents are citizens, legal residents, or undocumented. That rule has been abused, not just by poor families but wealthy travelers from countries like China and Russia. As my mom used to tell me, some people actually have more children so they can have more benefits. The rules need to be changed so incentives are in line to encourage people to work rather than merely have more children. My mother took a chance of losing her benefits by working and aiming for a higher paying job because she did not want to depend on the gov't. long-term. But other people would rather not take that risk.

  12. @Talbot, now that abortion is almost impossible to procure in many states, having the number of children you can "afford" is a pipe dream. No choice for many women. Failed birth control can bankrupt a family, and the religious right just doesn't care.

  13. 5 kids? And a partner out of work most of the time. I can’t understand people having children without a plan.

  14. @Milena For all we know, her partner was working 40 hours per week being paid $25/hour tax free for ten and a half months of the year. She was collecting food stamps year round even though it was only during the six week winter in North Carolina that they were even low income. For five children and a mother in a household that was only claiming her income, that's a healthy tax-free $700-800 per month in food stamps while dad is on his six week hiatus from work, plus while he is working. Plus Medicaid. Do they own their home? Does their income reported to qualify for a mortgage conform to what they told the welfare examiner in order to get food stamps? Inquiring minds want to know.

  15. @ebmem For all we know you are completely incorrect regarding their work and family circumstances. If fabricating a hyperbolic scenario justifies in ones mind the inability to recognize these people are probably working at low wage (often seasonal) jobs doing work that few others want, then have at it. That said, I also recognize you could just as well be right and as a taxpayer am just as concerned. In the meantime, there is the bigger issue of everyone paying taxes or if they are paid "off the books". In that case, then the employer(s) should be looking at penalties of the law. It's precisely the fact that illegals can find work (mostly off the books) that encourages them to come here, settle, and have families. And while we are on the issue of taxes, I only hire licensed contractors. Similarly, I am just as tired of being offered a lower price from any contractor, shop,or service if I pay cash rather than check. Out of spite, I pay more so they might pay taxes also. The whole thing is a racket. It is unfortunate, in this case, that kids are stuck in the middle of it.

  16. @Charles If there weren't an endless supply of easily abusable labor, perhaps being a laborer would be a more desirable occupation... Sixty years almost every building in the US was built without illegal immigrants, and construction workers weren't spat upon by the upper crust of society.

  17. What's "un-American" is a nanny state in which the government literally feeds you. Please, let's save the tax dollars for programs that individuals and charities can't meaningfully contribute to: Public safety, public, schools, national parks, the EPA (before Trump turned that agency in to a joke), infrastructure. Feed your kids with some of the inexpensive, plentiful, and healthy food available everywhere (Walmarts have a fairly extensive produce section; most gas stations carry skim milk and apples, etc) If Americans want to help feed others, might I suggest a donation to a charity that works in Yemen, for example.

  18. @GBR If Americans want to help feed others, there are plenty of actual citizens in need. Those here illegally are free to go back where they came from if the land of milk and honey isn't quite generous enough for them.

  19. @Stephen Holland I did, in fact, read the article carefully and I noted that the woman and her partner chose to have _five_ children. That’s an okay choice to make.... if you can feed and clothe and house those children. ( But really, considering climate change - it’s not a very responsible choice even if you can care for them....)

  20. @Stephen Holland The lady in the article did not work

  21. Education is everything. People who are indoctrinated with religious beliefs—that suggest that limiting gods will by limiting the number of offspring is sinful—will continue to have more kids than they can support. Those who have the good fortune to learn creative and critical thinking, who have learned how to learn, who have had the time and money to develop marketable skills more often than not can support themselves and their families. Unfortunately there are too many who cannot afford the education they need in a world where a high school education is no longer enough. That is why education policies promoted by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are so critical at this point. Unfortunately we have an administration that invests obscene amounts in the military all the while cutting taxes that could address the tragic situations this article describes.

  22. @LoveNOtWar Good one. Bernie Sanders wife was paid $200,000 salary and $250,000 severance after she bankrupted the small non-profit college she was president of by fraudulently making loans. Elizabeth Sanders was the first woman of color to be a full professor at Harvard Law, a non-profit organization, where she was paid $350,000 per year to teach 90 hours per year of classes. That freed her to consult for insurance companies during the other 1910 working hours the rest of us were busy doing our normal jobs. They are promoting free education and forgiveness of student loans so that third tier colleges can continue to charge $40,000 per year in tuition and Harvard Law can charge $300,000 for a law degree. Only someone very gullible would attribute altruism to their policy recommendations.

  23. @ebmem, and Betsy Devos spends time on her private yachts (plural, yes, with an "S") while her department's policies gut our education system.

  24. ALL human beings ought to have access to food, housing, education, and healthcare. If we are a society that does not recognize this, we are morally lost. Back in the day, many immigrants who came to the United States registered to vote right off the boat. The political machines saw to it. Many did not receive welfare benefits because they did not exist at the time. We need people with the get up and go to get up and come to the United States because of our aging population. Studies show that the first generation may need help but very often the second generation and beyond prospers.

  25. @Valerie Elverton Dixon. We do not need any more people from anywhere. The idea that the Ponzi scheme of continuing to add ever more people to take of the last generation is insanity. We need to scale down to a sustainable economy and lifestyle. We have neither now and adding more people won't get us there. And besides the people we are currently adding to this country cannot even take care of themselves. They will never pay for your retirement, their kids and their retirement.

  26. @Valerie Elverton Dixon registered to vote right iff the boat? doubt it, not my grandparents, did not vote until they became citizens. facts please.

  27. @Valerie Elverton Dixon Then consider me irretrievably (and quite happily I might add) - morally lost.

  28. What I have read is a USDA's proposed SNAP rule would eliminate an estimated 3.1 million children, families, disabled and older adults from access to SNAP benefits nationwide. The blockage of nutrition support for vulnerable and hungry people ignores the will of Congress when it considered this issue in the 2018 Farm Bill. Sadly, the 3.1 million affected sounds like a low number as immigrants refuse to take advantage of SNAP funds. These actions by the administration are wrong and cannot be allowed to take effect.

  29. We have 18 operational aircraft carriers, each costing $10 billion, with and annual operating budget of $750 million. The United States has 5 more carriers than the the rest of the world combined. Complaining about the cost of this program to feed little kids regardless of their citizenship status is making the wrong argument. We should all be asking the question, why in God's name do we need 18 aircraft carriers?

  30. A factor omitted from the anecdote is that "day laborers" do not pay income or payroll taxes and the families do not only receive food stamps during the winter, when he cannot find work, but all year because the welfare examiner is not informed of his presence in the household or his wages. The same thing happens in households where all members are American citizens. But households with illegal aliens are even more likely to have off-the-books wages than Americans who are scamming the taxpayer.

  31. @ebmem It's a safe bet, that some of those even multiplied the trump fortunes by working directly or indirectly for Trump - before he had to quit this because of the public scrutiny surrounding his candidacy. Even so, he will say, that it is not his fault, if some of his contractors use illegals, or bypass IRS, to cut down on labor cost.

  32. The comments here are illustrative of why the United States is failing. One, no individual person contributes more than a few dollars a year to support poor families. Two, no citizen will be deported for being poor. Between those facts, your situation is in no way comparable to a poor immigrant's. Three, Latin America has laws against abortion and sometimes even contraception and the men are not willing to go without sex when their girlfriends and wives can't afford a child. That latter being rather like the situation here. Four, one's financial status does not remain the same one's entire life. One year I could afford my older child, the next year my husband decided to become a felon and left me destitute. I lost my son to my in-laws as a result. Anyone saying "don't have kids you can't afford" should be forcibly sterilized. We'd solve this national lack of empathy and decency in one generation, two at most. Bam. Done.

  33. Most Americans cannot afford 5 kids. 2 is often a financial stretch. To expect two worker families to be ok with paying for immigrants to out breed their incomes because of religious or any other reason while they have to cut back, is ridiculous. The idea that poor, uneducated, unskilled people with huge families are going to save our economy and pay for our retirement is delusional at best. The path to a sustainable future isn't going to be found by importing poverty.

  34. Population control. And a reckoning for the Catholic Church, Islam and male hegemony over female bodies/anti-choice. From and climate and sustainability point of view, the planet is full. The U.S., which has doubled its population in the past few decades, is also full. Uneducated teen parents making more and more babies and streaming north to make even more, and then relying on food stamps and anti-poverty programs meant to be temporary assistance to raise them, is insanity. This is 2019: legal immigration only, end birthright citizenship.

  35. @Parapraxis U.S. Census Bureau released its population change estimates for the year ending in July 2018. Their data show that the national rate of population growth is at its lowest since 1937, a result of declines in the number of births, gains in the number of deaths, and that the nation’s under age 18 population has declined since the 2010 census. This is on the heels of recently released data showing geographic mobility within the U.S. is at a historic low. And while some states—particularly in the Mountain West—are growing rapidly, nearly a fifth of all states displayed absolute population losses over the past two years.

  36. It is .my understanding that SNAP benefits are calculated for use by the citizen children -- the illegal parents do not receive SNAP benefits.

  37. @Judith weller Adults take/partitition the food from their children. Remember, these are adults who do not or cannot work for whatever reason they choose; the children are simply instruments to obtain food and housing.

  38. I've slowly become a deplorable curmudgeon. You see, I have a special needs adult son. He's been on a Medicaid Waiver wait-list for five years. We were recently told that the wait was basically indefinite and there had been no movement or activity on the waitlist (whatever that means) for the past five years. Nobody could tell us what the criteria were or even who decides when my son would finally get off the waitlist. Somebody also once told my wife that she and my son would be better off if I was dead, or she divorced me. So yes, I get grumpy when I read about people coming to the USA and getting public support for their kids while my son languishes. The Trump haters keep defending public benefits for even illegal immigrants Meanwhile, I get older and older, and my wife and I live with a truly difficult domestic situation, alone and depresses. Nobody has anything to tell us about my son's future. Meanwhile, the Democrats are worried about people coming here from other countries and I've not heard any of them say anything that sounded like it might help our family. Yes, I resent it. I guess I'm a bad person now.

  39. @david, it doesn't make you a bad person. But it's sort of illogical to get angry at people having as hard a time as you are if not harder. This country has more than enough to provide for your son and for theirs. Voting for people who will make that a reality seems the smartest course of action.

  40. @david And you are on that wait-list because it was the democrats, that cut the taxes, and consequently the spending for healthcare that are required to address your sons needs? Isn't it Trump / conservative doctrine, that all of this is your fault, that even supporting the eak and sick is outright socialism and not the american way. Who is sleeping now?

  41. @david it's terrible that your son is not getting the care he needs, but how can you think that the low wage workers described here are more responsible for your situation than trump and McConnel? Bernie and Warren both have viable universal health care plans, is is just culturally un-paletable for younto consider voting for someone who may actually help your family?

  42. This will destroy many farmers in low-income communities around me.

  43. This is a tough position to be in. These families are here legally, yet they are fearful they will not get their green cards if they continue to receive benefits such as food stamps, medicaid, etc. Because of this they sometimes limit the food they feed their families and sometimes don't get it all together. They worry that if they disclose that they need government help it will jeopardize their chances of citizenship in the US. How is this fair to these young children who haven't asked for this? Everyone deserves to eat! This is not okay.

  44. @Ashley Even worse: some of them might be pushed into illegal activities, to get by. This is going to drive criminality upwards. And this might be one of the intentions.

  45. We as American's have heartburn about making sure kids don't go hungry, but we're just fine with providing Billionaires massive tax breaks and loopholes along with corporate welfare. We are but a twisted, ignorant and selfish people.

  46. At least trump supporters will sleep well knowing they helped take food out of an undeserving immigrant child's mouth and that they will pay for trump's next trip to Mar a Lago.

  47. @maria5553 and that is the truth

  48. For the GOP, cruelty is the point.

  49. As Paul Krugman so frequently points out, the cruelty IS the point. How are the Chumpistas able to just wave their magic wands and subvert the will of Congress? Our system is fraught with loopholes.

  50. “her five children” is the phrase that drives so many US citizens crazy. So many US citizens limit their families so they can adequately provide for their 1-2 children. Claudia’s family would likely not be so hungry if there were just 2children.

  51. @Honeybluestar May be you are able to see, that there is at least *some* connection to the conservative stance on abortion and contraception. One of the few things, that is even more radically enforced south of US.

  52. @Honeybluestar this 8s a cultural difference abortion and birth control are much more taboo in heavily catholic countries

  53. @T Self-control by the male, which is not part of "macho" culture in Mexican and Central American culture, might have a little to do with it.

  54. I’m confused, the doctors (article authors) say Central Americans “moved” (love the euphemism) to the States. Does it mean they are legals or illegals? If they are legals, then they can legally work and feed their children. If they are illegal, then they won’t have the chance to apply for legal residence and they can live on food stamps.

  55. Did The Times Editorial Board realize that Professor Elliott is employed at the University of British Columbia? Why in the world is she opining on US immigration policies? The reality is that if people want to enter this country, then, what is so difficult about doing it the right way? If you've overstayed your visa or if you entered illegally, then get a sponsor. This will enable you to stay here.

  56. @dmanuta It is a bit odd to hear a professor in a country with extremely stringent immigration policies firing off on a country that doesn't.

  57. Geesch..there are many Americans who work in policy positions in many capacities up here. Stupid quibble. David Frum...arch conservative I think is a dual citizen. That woman you are attacking may be an American. Just because she is working at UBC means nothing.

  58. No, our country was not built by people on welfare.

  59. @David When our country was built, the social structure of communities was very different than it is now. Welfare, as you call it, - that is, providing for those who cannot provide for themselves - was seen as community responsibility.

  60. Making families and children go hungry seems to be a goal of this administration.

  61. @democritic If you observe a local school population at day's end, it does not appear that the immigrant children (or, in fact, most of the natives and legal students) are going hungry in the least.

  62. "— for example, American-born children in immigrant families — can receive SNAP even when other members of their family are undocumented." And this is the singular reason why thousands of people flood the border illegally or overstay tourist visas. Once the baby is born it's just like hitting a Flaming 7's Jackpot! Here comes all the FREE STUFF! We need to do away with Birthright Citizenship.

  63. @Aaron, oh yeah, cause being able to eat is hitting a flaming jackpot? What country are you from?

  64. An NYT opinion page article demonizing Trump? Shocking! More like, yawn, another in the literally/daily half-dozen or so of the demonizing articles, sooooo long ago they lost their intended effect to promote the lib/Dem agenda. It now has the opposite effect, wake up libs!

  65. We chose not to have additional children that we couldn’t afford to feed, house, educate, and provide healthcare for. So forgive me if I refuse to subsidize an endless stream of foreign migrants and their offspring who brazenly jump our borders expecting welfare, food stamps, free healthcare and education off the backs of American taxpayers.

  66. @Shoshanna, no one has asked you to. Most immigrants feed and house themselves. They actually contribute billions to our tax base each year. Maybe you should read up on it instead of blaming poverty on the impoverished.

  67. @Shoshanna Selfishness - particularly the cruel, taunting and sanctimonious type referenced above - is most assuredly neither an American value nor a value of any faith tradition with which I am familiar. For myself, I am delighted to have my taxes feed, clothe, house and provide medical care for those whose desperation has lead them to "jump borders" in search of a better life.

  68. @Shoshanna so you would rather have these poor folks stay and get killed in the country they live..where is your humanity

  69. This commentary actually does not make any sense. It mixes the very different situations of immigrants who obey immigration law and those who violate immigration laws. This results in unclear writing and thinking. Presenting legal immigration and illegal immigration under the term immigration is fundamentally dishonest and is generally done to mislead readers. This dishonest writing adds to our political divisiveness and helps Putin in his goal of undermining the US. Use the term “legal and illegal immigrants” when you mean to include both groups. When discussing issues regarding doctors, we would not use the term doctors to include those who practice medicine without a license, with those who practice with a license. We would not say that people who opposed doctors practicing without a license are anti-doctor. However, those interested in making our politics divisive, will frequently falsely accuse opponents of illegal immigration of being anti-immigrant. Very very few opponents of illegal immigration oppose legal immigration. Legal immigrants, such as my wife and many of my friends who immigrated to the US legally, find it highly offensive when their efforts to immigrate legally are denigrated by having their legal immigration lumped together with those in the US illegally. I suspect licensed doctors would also be offending by being lumped together with those who practice medicine without a license.

  70. When we applied for citizenship in the EU, we were told that if we'd used relief programs in the past, our application might be denied. There's one big difference, though: we do not come from a nation that was subject to repeated and reckless interventions by the country we chose to leave. Americans need to understand their own country's past in Central and South America, and realize their past governments helped sow the divisions that are driving people away. The US 'changed' governments in this area of the world as if it were moving pieces on a chessboard. Now come the consequences of having created so much havoc. Pick up the pieces of what you broke, people.

  71. I have noticed that the Mexican/Central American immigrant children in the local schools are notably, often profoundly, obese compared to native and legal students. I suppose the "heartbreaking choices" of their mothers have resulted in this phenomenon.

  72. @Hypatia: Obesity is often caused by over-consumption of sugar and other empty calories. Sugary food is far cheaper than fresh fruits and vegetables and good quality protein sources. Paradoxically, obesity is one of the most common signs of poverty and lack of nutritional access.

  73. @Thea Most of us have heard this pat explanation dozens, if not hundreds, of times. This supposedly "sugary food" (for dinner? please provide an example) is cheaper for everyone, yet the pattern of morbid childhood obesity falls across only a few easily identifiable groups.

  74. We're all immigrants or came from immigrants. It's sheer hypocrisy to claim your ancestors were any different. They came here hungry, poor, jobless and desperate. Time to face that fact and stop acting like your ancestors were any different.

  75. One way to fix it of course, is to build an immigration policy that only admits those who can, you know, take care of themselves. I mean, I guess there are no hungry, homeless US citizens if we can afford to extend the taxpayer dole to immigrants both legal and illegal, right?

  76. If you are having difficulty with feeding your family, you may want to consider that you should not keep getting pregnant and having more children for taxpayers to help feed, especially if you are not a citizen of this country. That is my take away from this tale of woe.

  77. Reading the comments certainly makes one worry that the Dems could experience a harsh reckoning in 2020 based on the immigration issue.

  78. Two thoughts. 1) I use NYT comments especially as concerns anything at all having to do with immigrants (would prefer that the term asylum seekers would be used where appropriate) as my window on what my fellow Americans really think. My sample reading today tells me that many would like to use concern with providing children with adequate nutrition should be used to justify any and all efforts to reduce the number of people entering the USA each year. Not a good argument. 2) Very poorly phrased statement: "...at odds with a fundamental truth of the United States: that it is built on immigrant labor and would not exist were it not for the sacrifices and suffering of the people who have landed on its shores tired, poor and hungry." The Times series on slavery shows why the above is unacceptable. The country was built first on slave labor, they were not "immigrants" To not distinguish between slaves and immigrants is unforgivable. Immigrants do at present make possible many kinds of businesses to exist. That is a separate question endlessly discussed, never dealt with satisfactorily. Only-NeverInSweden.blogspot.com Citizen US SE

  79. Gee, my taxes are so high that I can afford only a single child and we also do not qualify for any tuition assistance - my taxes are paying for children of others while I can hardly afford to raise my only child. How fair is this?

  80. @DL So your response to living in one of the most expensive cities in the US is to deny food to hungry children. And 27 people agree with you. Billionaires got tax cuts, perhaps you all should direct your ire about unfairness at that rather than the SNAP program.

  81. @DL Hmm What % of your taxes goes to this? Or what amount? 10 cents?

  82. @DL Is your child at risk of malnutrition?

  83. Generally and positively, public benefits are spent, not hoarded and saved. How many grocers depend on income from SNAP and WIC food programs? WalMart does and our small-town Grocery Store does. Medicare and Medicaid save lives, as they recently saved mine. Corporations and wealthy individuals often depend on government "handouts." Where would they be without them? Those elected to high office eagerly seek donations, and laws are passed to benefit those who curry favor with lawmakers. As noted, "immigrant labor" makes possible Mother Nature's bounty, that Horn of Plenty overflowing with produce. If those who would defile immigrants and who wanted lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, bread, cereal, chicken, turkey, beef, fresh fish and so many more items were required to go out and forage for and pick their own, perhaps some would change their regrettable opinions. Doug Giebel, Big Sandy, Montana

  84. @Doug Giebel, and the corporate farmers hurt by Trump's tariffs and China's counter tariffs, get a hand out from the Trump administration. We need to vote out the Republicans and hope for the best. it's that simple.

  85. @Doug Giebel There are supply and demand curves for labor and where those two curves intersect sets the price for labor. Instead, businesses that harvest "nature's bounty" today set the price of low wage labor exploitatively low and then claim no one will do the job. Supply and demand tells us that the businesses need to respond by raising wages, not encouraging an endless supply of first generation immigrants to undertake these poor paying jobs for the cheapest.

  86. @Don L. I guess: good luck with that. But whether the businesses would raise wages enough so the immigrants would be replaced seems questionable. The nation depends for so much, as it always has, on exploiting workers of all ages.

  87. I was at the grocery store the other day and a young mother was standing in the checkout line. She had baby food and milk and yogurt and things she needed to feed her children. She also had a voucher from a federal program. The checkout person could not have been more rude to her as he made her put aside things that were "not allowed". She had selected yogurt with fruit in it. "NO, the yogurt has to be plain." She had baby cereal with bananas in it. "NO, the cereal has to be plain." She had orange juice. "NO, the container is too big. It can only be XX ounces at the most." The woman in line directly behind her told the cashier that she would pay for the part of the young woman's groceries that were not covered by the voucher. "NO, I already entered the information in the register and I can't start over or the it won't work at all." I was angry, and heartbroken. Her kids need to eat. And we put so many obstacles in her way that no wonder she was in tears by the end of the transaction. The humiliation is completely unnecessary. California provides a debit card for its SNAP program and no one knows the difference when the card is used at the grocery store. That's the way it should be.

  88. @Mary A, hmm interesting read. I actually see quite the opposite and I live in the Bay Area as well and work for Social Services. See these young moms and others using freebie food cards and the like with zero problems and that is at Whole Foods and other high end food stores. From my perspective what you observed is not typical.

  89. @Mary A Where in the SNAP/WIC regulations are the above items that were banned actually banned? Is there really a regulation about only plain yogurt and one barring purchase of baby cereal with bananas? Perhaps the checkout police person should be removed from that position?

  90. @Doug Giebel - SNAP and WIC are very different things. The WIC programs can be ridiculous in how specific they are. For example, you can't buy extra large eggs even though the price difference is pennies. It might say you can buy generic cereal, but only if it doesn't have sugar, and it has to be a 12oz box. Or you can buy yogurt, but it has to be plain, and you have to buy 32 oz of it. WIC has dozens of rules and it varies by state. Check it out here - https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/3791.pdf

  91. Exactly how is the country - which does not provide adequate education, healthcare, housing and nutrition - for many of its own citizens - supposed to support non-citizens, the overwhelming number of whom are illegally present? It's fine and noble to declare that everyone's needs should be met, but we can't meet our own needs. We are adding a huge, largely illegally present (and their offspring) population to an increasingly struggling working class and shrinking middle class. The opportunities for upward mobility - especially for uneducated and unskilled - have largely evaporated. I fear the race wars of the 60s will, in retrospect, be mild by comparison to what lies ahead.

  92. @Sharon People on SNAP ("food stamps") get about $1.33 per meal (~$4/person per day). It's one of the least wasteful government programs in existence. A person making $50,000 per year pays about $36 towards SNAP, making it a steal. If you're worried about taking care of our own, food stamps for anyone who needs it is not the place to start cutting.

  93. @Sharon " we can't meet our own needs." This country has the ability to provide for our own citizens but the ruling party prefers to give money to the wealthy and corporations. There is never enough money to satisfy our bloated military. The income inequality gap in the United States is growing. We need progressive tax laws that make the wealthy and corporations pay more. Cut out the loopholes so that corporations like Amazon make billions in profit and pay nothing in taxes. The deficit is increasing because of bad policies, especially ones put out by the Trump administration. If we were a caring nation, we'd be able to feed the starving, take people off the streets and provide clean drinking water. Poor people are struggling because as a nation we just don't care. According to Trump immigrants are blamed for all our economic problems. Don't buy into that nonsense. Immigrants are coming to the US because they are desperate to survive. Have some compassion and understand the hardships that they endured. We can do much better to help them but the will isn't there. Your comment is proof of that.

  94. Let's all remember that the reason we don't provide for, or take care of, our own citizens is because we choose not to. If it's not"undeserving" immigrants, it's "undeserving" poor citizens. We are just suspicious of anyone who had less than, unless they have a very compelling story that "proves" they deserve our charity. If you think it's ok to let children go hungry, fine. But don't hide behind we "can't" take care of our own. We could, but we don't want to.

  95. Claudia, her undocumented "partner" and her five anchor babies are really a poor example if the Times is trying to generate sympathy for people needing SNAP benefits. "If you can't feed em don't breed em."