Letters to the Editor

PAUL STULTZ: Work programs could help retain motivation, dignity

The Sun Herald's "The high cost of cutting food aid" article (Jan. 24) got me thinking.

The change would only apply to people who don't have children and are 18-49 years old. After three months, those in that category would be expected to find a job, enroll in school or begin a job training program. It doesn't sound unreasonable since we are talking about healthy people in their prime years. Obviously, if you have a disability, you are in a different category. The article even mentioned that if you were in a low-paying job, you could still get the food aid.

During the Depression, my father lost his job on the railroad, and it was a difficult time for a family of eight. He went to work on the WPA, a work program doing construction and infrastructure projects that paid $10-12 a week for 40 hours of work, and he also received vouchers for government surplus foods, like flour, sugar and butter. The money barely covered the rent and utilities, so at the end of each work day and for 10 hours on Saturdays, dad traveled by bus and foot to work for a farmer who, in turn, paid him in a combination of produce, chicken and a few dollars.

One of my older brothers retired as vice president of a large corporation, and I was talking to him one day about all of the fancy dinners he had with clients, and he told me the best thing he ever ate in his life was the fresh bread that mom baked every day during the Depression.

In the past few years, I think the number on food assistance has risen to about 20 percent. I think a similar program to the WPA might be a good thing to help people keep a sense of self-worth and encouragement during hard times.


Ocean Springs