As Washington Debates, Some U.s. States Proceed With Food Stamps Cuts

Unfortunately, the machine goes haywire and destroys most of the town of Swallow Falls. Q: What is Flint Lockwood doing now? A: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 picks up right after the first movie ends. The food machine is seemingly under control, but Swallow Falls is still a mess. Q: Is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 about disaster cleanup? A: Sort of. An eccentric tech maven named Chester V (Will Forte) spearheads the cleanup effort and also woos Flint to work for his company, Live Corp. Q: Is Live Corp supposed to be a stand in for Apple? A: In terms of people’s undivided devotion to a company: probably. (But probably not the part where Live Corp’s CEO turns out to be evil.) Q: How soon do we learn Live Corp is evil? A: We find this out very early in the movie. Chester V recruits Flint to return to Swallow Falls in an effort to clean up the city. When Flint returns, he discovers that his Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator is still working and it’s creating living food creatures called “foodimals.” Q: What is a “foodimal”? A: A “foodimal” is an animal-food hybrid.

Federal food stamp debate worries California advocates

In fact, last year’s festivities saw a total of half a million chickens, 116 whole oxen and 115,000 pork sausages being served up in Munich’s beer tents over a period of three weeks. But even in one of Germany’s most rigidly traditional regions, times are changing. In an attempt to cater to the changing food preferences of visitors, beer tent owners have put vegan dishes — and in one case, vegan wines — on their menus. “As the event becomes more international, people with special dietary requirements and different culinary tastes are becoming the norm,” says Wolfgang Nickl of Munich’s city council, which is responsible for organizing Oktoberfest. It’s not only foreign visitors who struggle with the meat-heavy menu, though. Vegetarianism and veganism are on the rise in Germany. About 800,000 of the country’s 7 million vegetarians forego all animal products, according to the Association of German Vegetarians (VEBU). “Whether it’s environmentalism, climate protection or health concerns, there is a growing awareness among Germans when it comes to the vegetarian agenda,” says VEBU spokeswoman Stephanie Stragies. An Inclusive Environment The Bachmaier family, who were inspired by their son’s experience as an apprentice in a Munich-based vegan restaurant, were the first to take the leap. Among the dishes the family has added to its “Herzkasperl” beer tent’s repertoire are soy “pork” medallions with sauteed chanterelle mushrooms and the traditional cheesy egg noodle bake known as “Kasespatzle” — except without the egg or the cheese. “Vegan food is the best way to ensure that people of all religions, as well as those that don’t eat animal products out of conviction, aren’t excluded from the festivities,” says Martin Jonas, who has been working at “Herzkasperl” for four years. “Though it’s hard for Bavarians to change their approach, it makes sense. It’s the lowest common denominator.” Other tent owners, including the Ammers — who are famous for their roast chicken — have jumped on the culinary bandwagon. The family, which also runs a successful restaurant outside of beer festival season, is serving up a chicken fricassee, but replacing the meat with soy cutlets. The neighboring Fisch-Bada tent, known for its vast selection of fish and seafood, has even added vegan red wine — filtered without the use of animal proteins — to its menu.

The changes have drawn criticism from some advocates for the poor and unemployed. “It’s the wrong thing to do,” said Louis Goseland, campaign director for Sunflower Community Action, based in Wichita, Kansas. “It’s not as though starving 20,000 people will do anything to change unemployment. It is punitive to the most vulnerable people in the state.” President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package in 2009 suspended the work requirement nationwide to help the growing number of unemployed during the recession. Even as the economy and job picture have improved, the waiver has remained in most states. Five states – Delaware, New Hampshire, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming – have not used the waiver in recent years for a variety of reasons, according to a recent report by Pew Charitable Trusts, an independent public policy research group. The waiver still allows unemployed people to get food stamps, but only for three months within a 36-month period. That means in Kansas and Oklahoma some people will have three months from October 1 either to find a job or enroll in a federal job-training program. The tighter restrictions follow a vote by the Republican-majority U.S. House of Representatives on September 24 to cut food stamp spending by $40 billion. Obama has threatened to veto the bill if it passes the Senate. The White House said foods stamps help stave off poverty and hunger.

Meatless in Munich: Oktoberfest Introduces Vegan Food Options


No matter the intent of the GOP cuts, local residents are alarmed. “People will go hungry,” said Christian Luna, Sacred Heart Community Services’ public benefits program manager. “This is going to affect real people, every day, as they try to feed their kids.” The end of the federal fiscal year is Monday, and any legislation will require political compromise, which is in short supply in Washington, D.C. Food stamps, which are part of the farm bill, always are a lightning rod in the heated debate about how to best address poverty. That’s especially the case with the current mood of hyperpartisanship. Caught in the middle are a record 47 million people — nearly one in seven Americans — who receive aid. And populous California has the most people in the program, which is known nationally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and here as CalFresh. At the same time, the state has one of the lowest rates of participation, with about 55 percent of eligible Californians receiving food stamps. That’s because California historically has made it harder than other states to access benefits. While the process has been streamlined, partially explaining the jump since 2008 when about 2.3 million Californians received food stamps, the real driver to the surge has been the recession and slow recovery. That’s why social services advocates are warning that even small cuts could have big consequences for low-income families.