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VOL. 36 | NO. 33 | Friday, August 17, 2012

Lobbyist compares food stamps with handouts

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NASHVILLE (AP) — A lobbyist and former state legislator has likened providing food stamps to feeding animals.

David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, said people should not become dependent on government aid.

The Tennessean (http://bit.ly/TJQIUA ) reported that Fowler made the comparison on a personal Facebook page. He wrote that the solution is to follow the advice of the National Park Service and stated, "Do Not Feed the Animals."

"Their stated reason for the policy is because the animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves," Fowler wrote in the post. "This ends today's lesson."

Jennifer Bailey of the nonprofit Community Food Advocates in Nashville said Fowler's attitude dehumanizes food stamp recipients.

"It removes the human face of hunger," she said. "No human being is without dignity. That is something that should be remembered."

Bailey also said about one in seven Tennessee residents receive food stamps. She also says recent economic developments have changed who gets them

"It's the people sitting next to you in the church," she said. "Or your grandmother."

Fowler said he was misunderstood — that he wasn't comparing people to animals, but pointing out the danger of dependency.

"The obvious point of the post is that government can foster and create dependence on government," he said. "Government creating human dependence on government demeans human dignity and is antithetical to human freedom government is intended to protect."

Fowler also said he would be more careful in future statements.