Alaskans Don't Know Where Their Food Stamps Went
- Author: Chris Remington
- Posted: 2022-12-21
In the state of Alaska, most people are very hard-working and do the sorts of jobs a lot of other Americans couldn't even handle. It's obviously very cold there, with harsh elements and strong winter storms. However, the place typically does well financially, boasting a strong economy. That all changed with COVID, liked it changed for many places around the globe. A lot of poverty and despair started running rampant through Alaska, and last year alone, over 80,000 Alaskans filed for food stamps (now called SNAP benefits). That is a gargantuan number in a state with only 700,000 people. That's a big portion of the state's population on food stamps. However, since October, thousands of Alaskans have reported that they have not received any food stamps for three months, and people are hungry and suffering.
What happened in Alaska to make their food stamps disappear? According to most news reports about the situation, it seems as if sheer government incompetence is at play here. Because the relatively small population of Alaska started to have so many people file for food stamps, state officials panicked and forced everyone on SNAP benefits to re-apply by refiling their paperwork. This came right after 2021, where the state actually made it easier to apply and receive assistance. However, because this is your typical government, they started to fear that people were taking advantage of the system and committing fraud. A state with fewer than a million people, and their big worry was that a criminal element was defrauding government, and so the state forced every single person off of food stamps to make them refile.
For many Alaskans, not only have they not received their SNAP benefits in over three months now, but they cannot even get a response from the government. The same government, by the way, that was so worried about criminals defrauding actual needy people that they forced everyone to refile, and now they cannot even lend a response to hungry people who have gone three full months without being able to purchase groceries. A cynical person might conclude that the real criminals aren't the potential ones defrauding SNAP, but rather the government that shut it down and has thus ignored needy citizens.
People in Alaska right now are having to decide whether to pay their utility bills so they have heat and power, or to put food on the table. The only real thing that's keeping citizens from outright rioting in the state is that food can be obtained via other methods. Hunting is huge in Alaska, as well as fishing, and so it's easier for people to feed themselves than in some other states. However, the point food stamp recipients want heard is that they cannot even speak to their elective representatives about possible solutions. Citizens are redirected, put on hold for hours at a time, and outright ignored. It's really turning into a disaster in Alaska, and that's quite uncommon for this particular government assistance program.
An Otherwise Clean Program
While there is obviously fraud that takes place within the SNAP benefits program, it's one of the cleanest programs that the federal government operates. Even though there are multiple steps involved in getting food to the people, it runs pretty clean. The federal government, via Congress, writes laws and supplies a budget to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Then the FDA turns the SNAP program over to each state to be run individually. Despite all of those seemingly needless steps for a federal program, SNAP is one of the most reliable ways in the nation to feed people. So, to have it failing so badly in Alaska is a shock, and can only be summed up by poor leadership.
There's something else going on in Alaska right now, and news about that will likely break in the coming months. As of right now, all people can do is speculate. Whether it's some legal scandal, some election issue, or misappropriated funds, no one seems to know. Though one thing that every Alaskan does know is that their elected government isn't even speaking to the thousands of people who haven't received their SNAP benefits in three months.
Even though it's the middle of the holiday season, there doesn't seem to be any sense of urgency in Alaska. According to multiple news articles released, the politicians in charge of the program couldn't even be reached for comment. The government seems to be ignoring the issue.