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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Liberal California ruling-in explosion of food stamp requests

By Evan Halper




JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) It was not surprising that Texas held out.

For years, Texas was among a handful of states that required every resident seeking help with grocery bills to first be fingerprinted, an exercise typically associated with criminals.

Even though Gov. Rick Perry ultimately got rid of the policy, Texas — always seeking to whittle down "big government".

But it is not No. 1. That distinction belongs to California.

Only about half the Californians qualified for help get it.

That stands in contrast to other states, including some deeply Republican ones, that enroll 80 percent to 90 percent of those whose low incomes qualify them.

That public policy paradox — one of the country's most liberal states is the stingiest on one of the nation's biggest benefit programs — has several causes, some intentional, some not. It also has two clear consequences: millions of Californians don't get help, and the state leaves hundreds of millions of dollars of federal money on the table.

The federal government pays almost all the costs of the food stamp program, which provides cash aid to about 46 million Americans at a cost of $74.6 billion this year. States administer the program.

In Washington, those costs have generated a furious debate that will heat up again next month when Congress returns from its summer recess.

While the federal government pays the bill, states reap an economic boost from more people with money to spend on groceries.

Cash for food is so close to free money for states that several, such as Florida, with a Republican-controlled Legislature and a conservative GOP governor, pay contractors to scour the landscape persuading people to enroll in the program.

"It is impossible to get states to do conservative types of reform to this program," said Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation who has tried and failed to get GOP-controlled states to enact tougher enrollment standards.

"The things they could do, they don't," he said. "It would bring them political controversy and no financial gain for their state. It is like asking them to jump into a buzz saw and to bring their governor along."

Not so in California, where onerous paperwork requirements, inhospitable county benefits offices and confusing online applications often prevail. While the USDA's latest study reflects the participation rate in 2010, agency enrollment figures released since then leave California stuck in last place.


In California, sometimes even those who qualify get rejected, as understaffed agencies prove unable to properly process applications.

Edlyn Countee had no idea she was eligible for food stamps until a friend who volunteered at a food bank brought it up. The 61-year-old from Oakland applied. She was rejected. "They said I made too much money," she said. "I figured, 'There goes that.'"

The friend insisted that there had been a mistake and that Countee should keep at it. The advice was solid, but it took an attorney from Bay Area Legal Aid calling social services officials, and Countee filling out an affidavit, before she got her $101 per month.

In Washington, the debate over food stamps has pitted Republicans, concerned about how much the program has grown, against Democrats who defend it. But that partisan divide does not truly reflect the reality of food stamp use back in lawmakers' districts.

Much of the program's growth involves the deep recession that started in 2008. But a big part stems from states that have actively tried to boost enrollment.

California has been slow to follow, as 36-year-old Sarah Palmer, a single mother from the East Bay city of Albany, discovered when the state threatened to cut her off unless she could produce receipts every few months detailing her child care costs.

"Every three months I had to ask the day care to write a note detailing what I paid," she said. Staff would keep forgetting. "Finally, one day I had to go in and tell them. 'You know, we are receiving food stamps. I really need you to write this note for me.'.... It was humiliating."

In most other states, Palmer would not have to produce such receipts; few require as much paperwork and none still require people to keep proving their eligibility as often.


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"People are being denied benefits because of policies California chooses to employ," said Jessica Bartholow, a legislative advocate at the nonprofit Western Center on Law and Poverty.

Some of those policies came into place under two Republican governors, Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who campaigned on promises to vigorously root out government waste.

Schwarzenegger vetoed several bills to end the state's fingerprinting of food stamp recipients.

"Our first responsibility to taxpayers is to take necessary steps to prevent fraud and abuse," he wrote in a 2005 veto message.

In 2011 the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California concluded after a study that the costly fingerprinting process did little to combat fraud but did discourage 280,000 qualified people from signing up for CalFresh, as the food stamp program is known in California.

By then, even Texas had done away with fingerprinting. That October, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill ending California's fingerprinting requirement.

Other hurdles, however, involve a problem that affects much of California's government: the outmoded and inefficient data-intake systems the state uses to process applications. Different county agencies use different software programs, often incompatible with one another.

As other states have moved nimbly to overhaul their application processes, constantly simplifying them, California finds even a minor tweak can be a monumental undertaking.

The state's complex history of dealing with immigrant families also has had a lingering effect. Only 20 years ago, California voters directed law enforcement to prosecute suspected undocumented immigrants who applied for benefits.

The state's requirements to produce bank statements, utility bills, day care receipts and until recently, fingerprints have left many immigrants, even those in the country legally, wary that an application will trigger a visit from immigration authorities, advocates say.

California is also one of 13 states that has a lifetime ban on food stamps for anyone convicted of drug dealing.

At a recent hearing in Sacramento, Wendy Still, chief adult probation officer for San Francisco, urged lawmakers to lift the ban, which affects roughly 20,000 felons. "If an individual does not have this basic need met, it can trigger an episode, an addiction, and then that triggers the cycle (of criminal behavior) over and over again," she said.

Brown has taken several steps to loosen the state's rules. In addition to ending the fingerprinting requirement, he also signed a measure that reduced the number of times each year applicants need to prove they qualify for assistance.

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