Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Brilliant Idea

So, the issue of social welfare, specifically food stamps, has been on my mind a LOT lately. I don't know why, but it has. I have a firm belief that a program like this is absolutely necessary and should be there for those who need it. There are always going to be people who, through no fault of their own, are in a rough situation and need some help to meet their basic needs. As a society, it is our job to provide food and necessities to these people. The trouble is that the system we currently have is broken. Just yesterday, I read something about a guy who used his food stamps to purchase over $140 in Mountain Dew, steak, and lobster. This is obviously not what the program was created for. The story goes further and it turns out that this guy was actually arrested for turning around and selling those items for cash.

Anyway, I hate hearing about people complaining about a system being broken, but not creating a solution to the problem.  So, here's my solution. Just hear me out on this one. I think it could almost work. It certainly wouldn't be any worse than what's happening now.  I wanted the solution to do the following:

  • Create jobs
  • Provide HEALTHY foods
  • Teach beneficiaries how to use the healthy foods for themselves
  • Meet the needs of those with special health issues who don't fit into a typical mold
  • Help motivate those who are receiving services to find ways to become self-reliant again as soon as possible.
  • Create a physically healthier society
  • Do all of the above in a way that does not increase taxes and makes the most of what is already being spent.
Here's how it would work.  First, the government takes a good long look at all the businesses that have gone under.  Many of those businesses have left behind perfectly good storefronts that aren't currently being used, maybe some have even been foreclosed on. Instead of building from the ground-up, the government purchases those buildings and turns them into food warehouses where people will go to pick up their food.  

These new stores are managed by managers, dieticians, cooks, nurses, employment specialists, etc. Now we've created jobs for more people. When a family gets accepted into the food program, they first meet with a dietician, who helps them figure out how many grains, fruits, dairy products, even diapers, baby formula, soaps, cleaning supplies, etc. their family needs. Included in there could be one or two "treats" as well.  Nothing fancy, but a cake mix here or there and maybe some jell-o, or the supplies to make your own delicious sweet treat. (This is an idea I saw at our church's food program and I love it. It just makes sense to me.)  During special holidays, it would be expected that other special things might be added to the supply so families could celebrate in the way they see fit.

If a family isn't sure how to use things like whole grains, unprepared beans (this is me. How DO you use those things?!?!), etc., this is where the cook comes in.  Free classes and cookbooks can be offered to teach families how to make the most of these products. Depending on the size of the storefront purchased, it's possible that some ovens and small classrooms could be built right into the building so everything could be onsite.  In doing this, we're teaching people how to be healthier by consuming better quality food rather than food loaded with preservatives and "instant gratification".  

What about the family with the child or family member with a special dietary need?  This is where the nurses come in. They can work hand-in-hand with the family to determine exactly what is needed. Perhaps it's a specialized baby formula, a glutton-free product, etc. that the food store doesn't carry on hand. This is when vouchers can be provided for that specific item so that the family can go and get what they need at their convenience.  

In addition to providing the food and basic needs services, there could be another area of the building where employment specialists can help families go over their job qualifications and review current job postings and educational opportunities.  Depending on the size of the building, there could possibly be a small childcare center for children who's parents are onsite working on their job skills or picking up much-needed food.  

Where does the food come from?  Well, the government could offer tax benefits to companies and farmers, etc. who donate a certain volume of product to the food store houses.  In addition, the government can create even more job by setting up their own farms to raise cattle for milk, grow fresh healthy vegetables, etc.  Tax dollars that we're already spending could be used to purchase any other foods or supplies that are needed.

Families would obviously not need to meet with a food planner and cook every single time they shopped. Once they get established, they would be able to go in and receive the items they already know they need. Perhaps every 6-12 months would be a good time for re-evaluation of a family's needs, and of course if a new family member joins the family or a major health issue arises.  

Would there still be kinks in my plan? I'm sure there would be.  There will always be someone willing to milk the system to get what they want out of it...though it would probably be quite a bit harder to get steak and lobster from a facility that just doesn't carry them.  :)  Still, even with the kinks, it has the potential to be more efficient and successful than what we currently have.  The monies spent would be going toward truly helping the families that need it.

So, there you go. That's my brilliant idea. Think it could work???


Becky Rhoden said...

It could work. Look how well the Churches program works. However, the Church sees the bigger picture and is willing to work for it. Not so sure about the Goverment.

AimeeTheSuperMom said...

I LOVE the way the Church's program works. Everyone helps, everyone plays a role, and needs are met. It's an amazing program.

what to do when your bored said...

Church's program works very well. Amazing !!

Lissa said...

Hey how are you all doing?