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Officials expect food-stamp reductions to drive more Valley residents to pantries

Published: Thu, October 31, 2013 @ 12:09 a.m.

By Peter H. Milliken



A 5 percent national cutback in the food-stamp program that takes effect Friday will inflict hardship on beneficiaries and increase the burden on local food pantries, which supply free food to needy people, local officials say.

This reduction is being accompanied by a new state requirement that some 134,000 able-bodied Ohio food-stamp recipients between age 18 and 50, who aren’t pregnant and don’t have minor children, must work or attend job training at least 20 hours a week, or risk losing their food stamps after Jan. 1.

More than 1.8 million Ohioans are beneficiaries of the food-stamp program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which has some 47 million beneficiaries nationally.

“It’s going to be a little more difficult for them to put food on their table” beginning next month, Robert E. Bush Jr., Mahoning County Job and Family Services director, said of SNAP recipients. “I would anticipate some folks going to food pantries that haven’t gone in the past.”

“This food-stamp cut is probably going to drive some additional people to pantries,” said Michael Iberis, executive director of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Mahoning Valley in Youngstown, which supplies food to 153 soup kitchens and food pantries in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

Many SNAP beneficiaries already use the pantries, which typically distribute about a three-day supply of food monthly to needy people, Iberis said.

“The number of people coming to pantries and [soup] kitchens already is at record numbers. They’re seeing [more than] 15,000 people a week,” in the tri-county area, Iberis said. “It’s getting closer to 16,000 people a week, which means that that’s the most we’ve ever seen, probably since the Great Depression” of the 1930s, he added.

Second Harvest distributes 9 million pounds of food annually in the tri-county area, which is double the amount it distributed eight years ago, he said.

“There is a ripple effect” from the SNAP cutback, Iberis said. “If there’s less money coming into the Valley [in food stamps], then obviously that trickles down to the merchant. It trickles down to the suppliers” of food, he said.

“Those purchases primarily stay local, so, yes, it’s going to impact our grocers,” Bush said, referring to grocery stores, where SNAP recipients spend their food allotments.

SNAP beneficiaries number 17,792 in Columbiana County, 46,543 in Mahoning County and 33,739 in Trumbull County, according to Ohio Department of Job and Family Services figures for July, which are the most recent available.

SNAP got a $45.2 billion boost beginning in 2009 from the anti-recession federal stimulus program, which increased the monthly benefit from $588 to $668 for the average family of four. Friday’s expiration of that increase will cut that to $632 a month.

The benefits vary based on food costs, inflation and income.

“They would have to make a choice on how to spend. Is it utilities or food for my child or food for myself?” John Gargano, Trumbull County Job and Family Services director, said of the choices SNAP recipients will be making after Friday.

The goal of the state requirement that able-bodied SNAP recipients work or get job training is to help the recipients, said Ben Johnson, an ODJFS spokesman.

“Our intent is to provide both a monetary benefit and job training or work experience to every Ohioan who needs them. It is not our intent to reduce the caseload,” Johnson said.

The work requirement is being imposed in 72 Ohio counties, including Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties, but not in 16 other counties where the economic recovery has been slower, Johnson said.

ODJFS will work with county JFS departments to increase efforts to help able-bodied food-stamp recipients find work, Johnson said.

The number of SNAP participants subject to the work requirement is 1,102 in Columbiana County, 4,711 in Mahoning County and 2,054 in Trumbull County.

“I don’t think we have enough jobs for those who want to work to keep them on the [food-stamp] program,” he added.

He said, however, transportation to available job and training sites won’t be a major problem in Mahoning County, where the Western Reserve Transit Authority has a well-developed bus-route network. “We can provide transportation passes and pick up some of that cost to get them to job sites,” Bush said.

Gargano said his county is working to meet additional transportation needs, but he added it would be difficult for Trumbull County JFS to handle a large increase in demand for JFS client transportation. There, he said, JFS uses several vendors to provide van and taxi transportation to its clients for medical and work purposes.


1southsidedave(5169 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

There are no jobs....

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2NoBS(2393 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

Those who are affected are, from the story, "between age 18 and 50, who aren’t pregnant and don’t have minor children." Expect a baby boom.

Also, this should be the rule for Welfare before food stamps.

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3auntiem4cabs(114 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

I am 55
I have worked since I was 16.
I lost my job and have worked part time gigs for the past 5 years. I struggle to make ends meet but the food stamps helped me there. I was receiving 200 a month. 50 dollars a week. I didn't eat steak, but I was able to pack my lunch ( I have since gone back to college), eat cereal and things I could make with ground beef. I make my own sauce and soup. I don't buy chips or soda or ice cream. I am very frugal. I have learned to love Aldi's over Giant Eagle.
I have now been cut back to 50 dollars a month.
I don't recieve welfare. I have a bad leg and so full time labor work would be welcome but I can't do it anymore ( I have been a baker for 35 years!!! I am not physically able to do that anymore ). 'the guins', I would love to be able to work full time. I too will be hitting up the food banks, which, by the way, i have never done.

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4bmanresident(607 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

This is wonderful news! More cuts need to be made to social welfare programs to keep working folks tax rates at a liveable rate.
Drug testing for welfare needs to take place as well. It's time for the bottom feeders to get off their @ssess and find some work! I'm done paying for the "lazy" class!

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576Ytown(1318 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

Antiem, the article says they are cutting back 5 % you are going from $200 mo to $50 mo?

"ODHFS will work with county JFS departments to increase efforts to help able bodied food stamp recipients find work".

Gdog: So is the major complaint that they are cutting benefits by 5% or that they require work or job training?

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6redeye1(5360 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

gdog you are the idiot here, you see the vast majority could and should work. I can see you never went thru a checkout line behind one of the welfare mob members shopping. They get things for free that I can't afford to buy . Ex.lobstertails, prime steaks big beef roasts etc. I have seen it with own eyes . There was a time that I followed out a welfare mob member to their car. Their car was a brand new 2013 Caddy. I had to ask them how they could afford such a car. they told me that they work the system by leasing the car through another person's name. They just stood their and laugh at me. So don't give me this righteous BS that they all deserved it. Secondly if they are so needy and righteous . Why do they continue to fight against having their photos put on their EBT cards. I'll tell you why, they won't be able to sell their cards to others for cash . that's why!!!!!!!!!!

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7bumslife(28 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

Once again, blanket generalizations overshadow factual arguments. Do I represent the average? I worked for 15+ years and paid into the system. While transitionally homeless and unemployed due to a sudden disability, I get 189/mo foodstamps and 200/mo for disability. yeah, it's great. I love it. I can live on it, NO PROBLEM. Try it sometime before you make such general assumptions. It's no fun, but it sure is better than nothing, especially since I paid into SSI/FICA/etc until a medical issue stopped me working. And at least I have some medical benefits to try to get back to work by figuring out what's wrong and dealing with it. Apologies to those who understand, and admittedly, there are those who cheat and lie and scam the system, but for someone like me, I don't know what I would do without this pittance of a stipend.

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8JoeFromHubbard(1533 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

Any time there is a proposed correction of government spending, a fire storm follows.

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9DwightK(1458 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

So SNAP is being cut but taxes aren't? Everyone is getting hosed on this one.

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1076Ytown(1318 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

bumslife: Are you on disability through work or SSDI? Reason I ask is you said you only get $200 mo for your disability benefit.

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11Silence_Dogood(1558 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

President Obama declares war on the poor.

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1276Ytown(1318 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

And once Obamacare kicks in, we'll need more cuts to pay for those healthcare premium subsidies.

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13Silence_Dogood(1558 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

"a new state requirement that some 134,000 able-bodied Ohio food-stamp recipients between age 18 and 50, who aren’t pregnant and don’t have minor children, must work or attend job training at least 20 hours a week, or risk losing their food stamps after Jan. 1."

This is uncalled for, how dare we ask of the able-bodied to actually try to improve themselves. This is a violation of their rights, if these people want to sit at home and not be productive, then that should be their right. What is next, are they going to have to get their own medical insurance, housing allowance, pay all of the heating bill, stop having ten children, this is insane.

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14Silence_Dogood(1558 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

gdog there are about 12,000,000 illegal aliens in this country, maybe we could ask one of them where all the jobs are at. They have to be working somewhere, right?

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15Silence_Dogood(1558 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

11,300,000 unemployed
11,700,000 illegal aliens

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16peggygurney(408 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

What about the retired and/or disabled elderly who depend on food stamps? Unfortunately retirement isn't what my elderly mother thought it was going to be. She barely gets enough from Social Security to pay her rent and utilities, thus must depend on food stamps to buy at least part of her groceries for the month. Now THAT is being cut by $39 per month.

She's never been to a food pantry, but she'll have to start going now. There's no other way for her to make it.

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17southsidedave(5169 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

Sparky...where exactly are those $17 - $20 per hour jobs with benefits located...I could use one of those

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18DSquared(1569 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

Great opportunity to weed out the deadbeats. Especially the ones who trade EBT cards for booze, cigs, weed and cash. If the gubm'nt was efficient they could do this correctly. But since it's an out of control money waster, ODumbo will take a chainsaw to this program instead of a scalpel. Don't forget, It's his strategy to inflict as much pain on people as possible!

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1976Ytown(1318 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

My niece, a divorced mother of 3 who receives food stamps of over $600.00 per month to supplement her income. Her baby is nursing, her 5 year old son is a picky eater and her teenage daughter eats practically nothing. She sometimes has a hard time spending it all so she's able to buy whatever she wants.

Maybe they should take age or family size into consideration. It's cheaper to cook for a few people than it is for just one, children don't eat as much as adults and and a single person seems to get less assistance than families.

My family does not receive food stamps but I manage a grocery budget of about $450 for 3 adults including paper and cleaning products and not eating out except for once each week. That's only $15 per day and we're not lacking...and yes...Aldi is our friend!

Convenience foods are the biggest items to run up the bill. If you shop the perimeter of the store, produce, dairy, bread and meat and avoid the center isles, you can save a whole lot on your grocery bill.

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20dontbeafool(1699 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

I don't mind paying some for those in need, temporarily until they get back on their feet. If they do get money, they need to do something, whether it is pick up trash, stuffing envelopes, attending parenting classes, or job training courses. But not to sit at home and play x box or smoke pot. I really wish they would make drug testing mandatory in order to receive assistance, that would save MILLIONS. I wish the people who are truly trying to provide for themselves the best of luck. As for the moochers, get a life, and a JOB!

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2176Ytown(1318 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago


Rand Paul is 50 years old. How the heck did he get social security?

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22Silence_Dogood(1558 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

gdog the City of Youngstown Civil Service just conducted a test for the position of sewer collections , the job pay's over $15 bucks an hour with good benefits . It has a drug test as part of the job. How many people showed up for the test? 20 people thats all just 20 people. This is a job that entails cleaning sewer lines, by no means rocket science, so the test is not that hard and the job is not hard either. So tell me you blithering idiot why did only 20 people showed up for the test.
Southside Dave try reading the Vindy help wanted section and you to could have taken the test conducted by the City.

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23lonniejo634(4 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

Here's to all you free loader, liars, manipulators and parasites, the gig is up! Go to Work and while you're there, loose some weight! Food is an necessity not a luxuary. Did you not know, to idolize food is a sin, it's an abomination to God To those who are truly in need, hang in there it wll work out for you!

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24Silence_Dogood(1558 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

P.S. The test was free, all you had to do was wake up Saturday morning and be at Chofin by 9:00. Now for the overwhelming majority of those in Youngstown that don't have a job those two hurdles might be just a little bit to high to jump over. When you are out all Friday night cranking it up until the wee hours it can be quite difficult to get out of bed in time to shake out the cobwebs and find your way to Chofin by 9:00. It really is much easier to just sit at home and wait for the mail to show up with the unemployment/welfare check and the SNAP card. That way you can be awake enough to be out Saturday night cranking up a storm.

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25Silence_Dogood(1558 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

gdog if you are stupid enough to believe that there are NO illegal aliens working in the Mahoning Valley, well then there just isn't any hope for you, for you have your head buried so deep that it will never be able to be removed from the posterior area.

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26lumper(291 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

wheres eye gonna git my nails done for free at ? da gubamint don't likes me or i wood git moneys for nails too. and eyes needs boff stamps fur food and letters !!!

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27DSquared(1569 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

So, 134,000 democrats have to get a job or show up for training in order to get their taxpayer supplied handouts. Gee, You wage-earners and tax-payers are a mean bunch!! lol

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28SansArmes(17 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

Post #28...
"a divorced mother of 3 who receives food stamps of over $600.00 per month to supplement her income."

If she recieves exactly 600/mo SNAP, then her total monthly income must be 226/mo.

(see maximum benefits section)

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2976Ytown(1318 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

According to the SNAP link, a family of 4 can earn up to $2552 gross monthly income (130% of poverty) or $1963 (100% of poverty)

"Gross income means a household's total, nonexcluded income, before any deductions have been made. Net income means gross income minus allowable deductions."

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30Sanjay1976(42 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

To danikytn,
For all you who "have more children than you can afford, and we are paying for everything, (we being the taxpayers)"

We republicans will teach you a lesson: no more contraception coverage, and no more abortions. So there!

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31SansArmes(17 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

Per the FDA link above
Through October 31 2013:

The Maximum SNAP allotment for a family of 4 is 668/mo.

And "The amount of benefits the household gets is called an allotment. The net monthly income of the household is multiplied by .3, and the result is subtracted from the maximum allotment for the household size to find the household's allotment. This is because SNAP households are expected to spend about 30 percent of their resources on food".

To arrive at 600/mo allotment, your niece's total monthly NET income must be 226/mo.

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3276Ytown(1318 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

hummm... Don't know what her income is but I'm guessing it's close $1200. According to the website, you then subtract deductions to get your net income.

Deductions are allowed as follows:
* A 20 percent deduction from earned income;
* A standard deduction of $152 for households sizes of 1 to 3 people and $163 for a household size of 4 (higher for some larger households);
* A dependent care deduction when needed for work, training, or education;
* Medical expenses for elderly or disabled members that are more than $35 for the month if they are not paid by insurance or someone else;
* Legally owed child support payments;
* Some States allow homeless households a set amount ($143) for shelter costs; and
* Excess shelter costs that are more than half of the household's income after the other deductions. Allowable costs include the cost of fuel to heat and cook with, electricity, water, the basic fee for one telephone, rent or mortgage payments and taxes on the home. (Some States allow a set amount for utility costs instead of actual costs.) The amount of the shelter deduction cannot be more than $478 unless one person in the household is elderly or disabled.

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33BrazenBull(12 comments)posted 2 years ago

For all you racist tea partiers in your ivory towers, do you even know what it feels like to be poor!? I doubt it. Being on government assistance is not easy! While you all sit around the water cooler talking about your favorite shows on HBO, I'm left out because I can only afford basic cable.

Do you think my Obama Phone can play Candy Crush? Nope, only calls and texts.

Plus, my shoulder gets sore when I carry heavy things around for a few hours or more, and it makes me really tired by the end of the day. Try being disabled like me and then cry me a river about your taxes.

Sure, there may be jobs out there, but most are degrading or boring. Plus, my managers were always mean. I deserve at least $100,000 a year, and until you're ready to give it to me, please stop complaining!

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34bmanresident(607 comments)posted 2 years ago

If we cut the food stamps how is the lazy class supposed to afford the necessities of cable, the internet, Cadillacs, and big screen TVs?

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35Silence_Dogood(1558 comments)posted 2 years ago

gdog once again spewing non-sensical blithering idiocy. You might want to get to your Doctor soon, I think your med's are not working the way your Doctor would like.

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36bumslife(28 comments)posted 2 years ago

76Ytown: I have been trying to get disability thru the fed/SSD system for 7+ years now, not to have a lifestyle like that, but for the medical coverage to find out what went wrong with me, physically, and fix it or treat it so I can work again. Unfortunatly, when I was honest and told the SSD/SSI people that, I was denied.

Now if I had lied like a lot of other people I know, I would have recieved disability to the tune of 8-1100/mo. This is not what I'm seeking as I make more than that when working in my normal profession and I like working for a living but I do need/want the medical coverage. To fully answer you, the 200/mo cash benefits are thru the state and if I get regular disability, they take that back from the first payments. And I had to leave Ohio to another state to even get the basic medical coverage and 200/mo cash. Had I still been in Ohio, I would probably still be trying to figure out how to pay for the medical costs to start figuring out what the problem is.

Brazenbull: Nice sarcasm, or is it Irony? But, I do agree with your first sentence, not just for Teapartiers, but all the partys. As someone famous once said, you can never be too rich or too fat - if you don't believe it, ask someone who is truly poor or truly hungry.... Have you ever went 72+ hours without a meal? Try it sometime, maybe then you won't feel so entitled, but as stated, I can't figure if you are being ironic or sarcastic. Also please recall the quote that's kinda along the same lines about when you feel indispensable, just drive past a cemetary.

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37kk80586(227 comments)posted 2 years ago

I wish poor people were really poor so they would stay off the roads.... trying to get home from work today (2 miles) was a PITA and the wife said traffic was crazy when she went to the store. When I told her about my experience she pointed out it was the 1st of the month. I bet they were all out looking for jobs... ya think?

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38BrazenBull(12 comments)posted 2 years ago

kk*K*80586...must be nice to own two cars. Lemmee guess, your wife was picking up new sheets for tonight's big rally? Is it even possible for you to make a statement without the racism oozing out? I'm sure you can afford to buy DVD's and music every week, but for those of us struggling, we can only afford these "luxuries" once a month.

theguins...ironic that you complain about drugs, but your racist tea party promotes individual liberty and personal freedom (i.e. illegal drugs). Why do white people get to buy a house, but I can't get a loan because I'm unemployed and have a record? Racist drug laws, that's why.

eivo..."these folks"!!?? Jim Crow called. He wants his laws back. There's an election coming up next week, and I pray to Obama that people see through the Rogaine and vote for the "People's Candidate": DeMaine Kitchen. He represents this city. He may have bad taste in white women, but can you blame him? There's little talent in this city.

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39kk80586(227 comments)posted 2 years ago

bb- nice try Beyotch... have to have 2 cars, we both work. If you saw my vehicles (2000 & 2004), you would not be so quick to prove your stupidity. glad you can buy dvds and music every month, I can't remember the last time I purchased a dvd or music. you must be rich compared to me. wife has some medical issues so that eats up what would be "discretionary" spending and/or savings with the deductibles and co-pays.
as far as YOUR race card--- I didn't look into any of the cars out today so I have NO IDEA what color they were. YOU were the one to come to that conclusion so YOU are the racist. I have only ever seen the most idiotic of the imbeciles add an extra "k" to my nic. The letter/number combination of my nick has significance to me and with the third "k" that YOU add...it means nothing to me.
Anyway, just letting you know that you are just as wrong as you can be trying to judge me.
hmmm, just read all your posts... the first few seem fairly intelligent, then you seem to degenerate into a pedophile and racist. WHAT HAPPENED?? did you bang your head?? take a bad medication?? have a lobotomy???
Just wondering, I'm worried about ya.

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40kk80586(227 comments)posted 2 years ago

one thing I didn't think of....maybe you are gdog in drag??

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41southsidedave(5169 comments)posted 2 years ago

It is easy to pass judgment on others, which is what this column has done

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42bumslife(28 comments)posted 2 years ago

ytowntomg: You cannot legitimately buy ANY alcohol or tobacco products with food stamp benefits, nor other things like aspirin, multivitamins, etc. There are very few eating lobster from their EBT benefits, and the last I read, it was estimated that 1% of recipients were gaming the system. Seems unrealistically low to me, but try living like that even temporarily and you'll find a lot more to "grind" over. And, oh yeah, I'll cling on to this luxurious life on the government dole, it's such a treat compared to having a real job and life like I used to. Some, perhaps a lot receiving these benefits like myself, would gladly hand them back to be able to work again like I used to. But then again, I don't represent the 1% of these or those.

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43Sensible(148 comments)posted 2 years ago

So true bum

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44Repub13(1 comment)posted 2 years ago

I love it! About time they step up and make the "lazy" get a job. Im tired of seeing these people with nice nails, hair, iPhones, 1000 kids that they have just to get this program, and treat the kids like crap. Now we just need drug testing.

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45Elf2(75 comments)posted 2 years ago

People who b*tch and moan about others have not walked in their shoes.

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46Sanjay1976(42 comments)posted 2 years ago

So clever, are you in 3rd grade?

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