This article appeared in the City of Dayton Annual Report for 1940
WALTER B. COSTELLO
Supervisor, Division of Public Assistance
WE HAVE OFTEN HEARD it said that the past is a visionary memory and that the future is a dream and by the same token, the accomplishments of today are the dreams of yesterday and the events of tomorrow are the dreams of today.
One man’s dream has partially come true. It is a strange quizzical dream of a man with a vision of vast surpluses of foods going to waste; of carloads of oranges, grapefruits and other fresh fruits being consigned to fruit dumps and being sprayed with oil and acid to make them unusable; the dream of beans and dried fruits being consigned to lakes and oceans so that they could not be consumed by humans needing them so badly – all of this in order to obtain a fair price for the items salable on the open market. The strange dream of the paradoxical situation whereby we have hunger amidst plenty. The strange vision of watching people all over the United States treading their weary way to warehouses stored with surplus foods. The dream of those going to and from the warehouse week after week and coming away with the baskets, bags, wagons, and other containers with an oversupply of one or two particular items; of the subsequent waste because of lack of proper refrigeration and storage facilities. The strange dream of persons not accustomed to eating grapefruit, for example, having dozens of them thrust upon them and out of all these complexities came the dream that some day a better system would be devised whereby surplus foods would be consumed by persons who need them so badly.
A plan that would entail and bring to the front our natural sources of supply – the farmers and the retail dealers. A plan whereby the unfortunate victims of public relief and public assistance would have some choice in obtaining foods in quantities desired. This strange dream of yesterday is an accomplishment of today and comes to us under the guise of the Food Stamp Plan.
The Food Stamp Plan was first inaugurated in the City of Rochester, New York, on May 16, 1939, by the Federal Department of Agriculture. Dayton became the sec- [p. 22] ond city in the United States to inaugurate the plan on June 5, 1939, and since that time the plan devised by Dayton has spread to hundreds of localities throughout the length and breadth of the United States.
Some of you may not be acquainted with the mechanical operation of the Stamp Plan and we will attempt to illustrate it for you.
Briefly, the Stamp Plan provides for 50% additional buying power on the part of persons receiving public assistance. As we have illustrated before, it is estimated that persons receiving public assistance spend $1.00 per person per week for each member of their family in Orange Stamps and receive in addition 50c per week per person in Blue Stamps.
Differing from the old method [Photo: FOOD STAMP PLAN OFFICE] [P. 23] of distribution, the Stamp Plan follows normal channels of trade. The Orange and Blue Stamps are issued to the recipients of public assistance and they in turn take them to the grocer who buys from the wholesalers, and the wholesalers in turn buy from the open market sufficient to meet the demand.
Under the Stamp Plan persons receiving aid for the aged, aid for dependent children, aid for needy blind, soldiers’ relief, W.P.A., direct relief and work relief are eligible to participate in the Stamp plan, which means, of course, that under this arrangement the Stamp Plan is servicing twice as many people as formerly. Persons in the social security categories are permitted to purchase the stamps either monthly or semi-monthly. The plan is entirely voluntary and a person in any of these categories may or may not participate at will.
In the City of Dayton for the period from June 5, 1939, to June 4, 1940, the amount of surplus foods purchased by individuals participating in the plan has exceeded $500,000. This, of course, means that $500,000 worth of additional food has come into the City of Dayton through the advent of the Stamp Plan. The City of Dayton has established a rotating fund and purchases the Orange Stamps from the Government. Blue Stamps are made as a direct grant to the City of Dayton by the Government without cost.
You may well wonder at this point how this program is being financed. There is, of course, no cost to the Government for the Orange Stamps with the possible exception of printing and redemption. The Blue Stamps, however, are paid for by the Government out of revenues received from import and export taxes.
We have said before that the Stamp Plan is a dream partially come true. We have said partially because it is hoped that the program may be put into operation in every community in the United States.