Proposed Reduction In Food Stamps Program Is Fair And Compassionate

State says laid-off prison food workers will get first crack at prison guard jobs

JILL TOYOSHIBA/Kansas City Star | JILL TOYOSHIBA/Kansas City Star The popularity of Port Fonda the food truck launched Port Fonda, the successful brick-and-mortar restaurant in Westport. Patrick Ryans Port Fonda , upscale Mexican cuisine served from an Airstream trailer, debuted at The Stars first Food Truck Friday event three years ago. The food was such a hit the lines wrapped around the parking lot until there was hardly a scrap of food left to sell. A few months later Ryan began working on his Westport restaurant. A year later the successful restaurateur announced the Town Co., his second restaurant , opening in 2014. Chef Kelli Daniels used the Good You, a food trailer specializing in gourmet burgers and sandwiches, to launch herself into an executive chef position at the Elms Hotel and Spa in Excelsior Springs, and El Tenedors chef Carmen Cabia, of the late Lills at 17th and Summit, reinvented herself, serving up paella, croquettes, vegetarian bruschetta, almond soup and other Spanish tapas from a small vintage trailer. Little Freshie went from trailer to a specialty soda shop on 17th St., and just last week Taco Republic opened in Kansas City, Kan., across from Oklahoma Joes. Taco Republic is a Bread & Buttter Concept (think BRGR, Urban Table and Gram & Dun). To build brand recognition and refine the menu, a Taco Republic Truck hit the streets earlier this summer. The Stars Food editor Jill Silva recently talked about the flourishing food truck scene with KCTV5 reporter Betsy Webster.

Local food truck scene continues to evolve

Harry Reid calls the bill “hateful.” So what’s actually in the House-passed food stamps bill? The act would reinstate work requirements for able-bodied adults who apply for food stamps; reduce the amount of time they can receive food stamps from three years to three months; stop the 1.8 million individuals who are ineligible from continuing to cash in; and end taxpayer-funded advertising for the program. Over the past five years, participation in the food stamp program has doubled to 47.7 million Americans, a number roughly the size of the population of California, Oregon and Washington. There has been a 164 percent increase in the number of able-bodied adults without children on food stamps. Most of these adults are not working. While the changes would save roughly $4 billion of the $80 billion annually spent on the program, that is not the biggest reason to support the legislation. This bill should become law because the current program hurts the very people it was designed to help. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat, once said, “The issue of welfare is not what it costs those who provide it, but what it costs those who receive it.” Giving free food to an able-bodied adult for years without work requirements harms that person’s motivation, self-esteem, and dignity. Job searches are brutal on the ego, and government programs can act as a disincentive to keep on trying, ultimately delaying the satisfaction and self-respect that comes from earning a paycheck. Up to $10,000 a year in food stamps is a powerful incentive to stay home. Lacking attractive job options, a person might decide that a 20-hour-a-week retail or restaurant job is not worth it, even as a stop-gap measure until the economy improves. The status quo has an even more pernicious effect on children.

The State Administrative Board approved a three-year, $145-million prison food contract with Aramark Correctional Services of Philadelphia after a technical appeal filed with the Civil Service Department was dismissed on Friday. Unions say they still plan to appeal to the Civil Service Commission, but in the meantime the state has the green light to proceed with the plan, expected to result in the layoff of about 370 state workers. Russ Marlan, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections, said some or all of those workers will be given an opportunity to train as corrections officers at a special school planned for December. Marlan said some of the workers are likely to retire and some will likely want to work for Aramark. But the workers who have not yet received their layoff notices will be given the first chance to apply for the special training program and will be accepted if they can pass the required physical fitness test, he said. The department needs to hire about 500 corrections officers to replace officers who have retired or otherwise left the department, Marlan said. One training school for about 300 applicants is planned this month, he said. A separate school for the food-service workers will be held in December, he said. Most of the workers the state plans to lay off are food-service leaders, whose pay tops out at $22.18 an hour. Pay for corrections officers tops out at $19.61 for part-time and $24.51 for full-time, according to the state Civil Service Department website. The state plans to start implementing the Aramark contract Tuesday and hopes to have Aramark take over completely by Dec.