The Center for Hunger-Free Communities

Solutions Based on Science and the Human Experience

Food Stamps

Food stamps (renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) are used to buy food and help low-income households in the United States obtain more nutritious diets by increasing the food purchasing power at grocery stores and supermarkets for all eligible participants. Applicants must fill out an application form at the County Assistance Office or online and provide proof of identity, income, and expenses. Benefits are provided on an electronic card, called an EBT card, that is used like an ATM card and accepted at most grocery stores. Food stamps/SNAP are a much more stable and beneficial source of food than emergency food assistance, yet research has show that per-person food stamp allotments do not cover the cost of a healthy diet in America (see “Coming Up Short: high food costs outstrip food stamp benefits”). From an economic standpoint, food stamps have been shown to be the fastest way to stimulate the economy: $1 in food stamp allotment generates $1.73 in consumer spending (see this recent article in CNN).

My short-term goal was to fill up my deep freezer for the winter. It’s January and my freezer is still empty. I don’t understand how I am denied food stamps because I am “over income” but I can’t put food in my freezer.

That’s just some of the canned goods. Usually it's filled up more than that. Eggs and bread go fast, so after all the bread and milk is gone it does look kind of different in the kitchen.

We get the Welfare and that’s what feeds us, the Welfare. The food… it gets smaller but it never… it never runs out because right now my mom lets me keep my Food Stamps so I’m able to make it last.

She was asking me for that yogurt. I felt so bad because it was outdated. It was old so I couldn’t give it to her. She was asking me for it, I said, ‘I don’t have it. It’s no good’… She was actually crying because I took it off of her and dumped it. And I didn’t have like anything else to give her.

My son, he’s already on the small side and he needs every bit of food that he can get to make him healthy, keep him healthy. He has failure to thrive. He has a bone deficiency that doesn’t allow him to grow. He’s only thirty pounds. He has acid reflux. He had RSV, failure to thrive, chronic asthma

And the kids know my food stamps got cut off. Because when they came home from school today, they didn’t have their snacks. So they know that I didn’t go to the market. I really didn’t tell them why or anything like that, because I don’t think they understand. But it affected them.

I was on my way to the overtime job that I was doing when I got my food stamps cut off.  They had called me to work there for one day.  So, I was thinking to myself, “Well, if I go down here this one day, are they going cut my food stamps off?  I really didn’t know what to do.  At the time I was walking through there, it made me think, “Was I going to get cut off again?” What kind of programs can the City do to help us stay on the food stamp program when we do extra work?  I don’t think it’s fair for us to get reprimanded for doing something positive.  That’s why I chose that picture."

He was asking the case worker for something to eat.  I don’t have child care, so I have to take him to my appointments.  If he was in day care I wouldn’t have to have lugged him early in the morning to an appointment to the welfare office to try to get food stamps and medical coverage.  I can’t help it if my baby’s hungry.  I was thinking ‘I’m not going to lie to you miss, he’s hungry.'

I have a job and I’m barely making it, so imagine how many people walking around hungry, with a smile, trying to fake it.



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