Blog

Tag ‘ working poor ’

The Stigma of SNAP

The myths that often stigmatize SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps) are being used to justify funding cuts that would make it harder for struggling families to get by. Last month the house approved a budget that proposes to cut SNAP by nearly 20 percent. Working as it was designed, SNAP responded quickly and effectively to the recession. Participation in this vital program increased by 53 percent from 2007 to 2010, while unemployed people increased by 110 percent over the same period.

SNAP targets the most vulnerable households; 76% of SNAP households included a child, an elderly person, or a disabled person. Despite the rumors to the contrary, benefits are not overly generous. In California the average benefit is just over $4 a day. For every dollar spent on the program, $1.73 in economic activity is generated. Correspondingly, a $1 billion cut from the program results in more than 13,700 jobs lost.

For every one allegation of fraud, there are hundreds of stories of heartbreaking need. You rarely hear the stories of the dad struggling to feed his kids after his hours were cut, the mom who is trying to make it on her own after leaving an abusive husband or the grandparents trying to raise their grandchildren on a fixed income.

The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano we know those stories because they are the people we serve every day. We saw a 46% increase in people receiving food between 2006 and 2010. The increase in demand on nonprofits like ours would be crippling without SNAP. Our programs work with SNAP to help those struggling in our community put food on the table.

We strongly urge our nation’s leaders to protect anti-hunger programs like SNAP and make needed investments in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (another Farm Bill program that the Food Bank relies on) to protect families from hunger and help charities like ours keep up with the need ion our community.

Sources:  http://feedingamerica.org/how-we-fight-hunger/programs-and-services/public-assistance-programs/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program/snap-myths-realities.aspx

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2012/04/hunger_games.html

http://www.statesman.com/opinion/green-federal-food-aid-cuts-would-hurt-families-2315338.html?cxtype=rss_ece_frontpage

I Never Thought I Would be in This Position

I met the most amazing woman this morning at a Food Assistance Program/Food For Children distribution. She and her two kids escaped an abusive husband with the help of STAND! For Families Free of Violence. Friends helped her some, but they couldn’t support her and so she found herself in a small trailer with no plumbing and only $3 in her pocket. She never thought she would be in this place. She was supposed to be at home taking care of her two small children. For four months last year she lived on WIC and $40 in cash. WIC was a life saver. She was able to make just simple meals but she also had fresh fruits and veggies to feed her daughters.

She is now enrolled in CalWORKS which she sees as a way to help her get on her feet. The food she receives from the Food Bank helps her stock her pantry. “These programs are vital,” she says. She’s not looking for lifelong help, just enough to get on her feet and go back to school so she can get a job to support her girls. Right now as part of the CalWORKS program requirement, she is working 21 hours a week but is basically working to pay for a babysitter for her 5 and 7 year old daughters. She is grateful for the work and experience but is looking forward to figuring out what she wants to do and is considering early childhood education.

Without the CalWORKS “I would be homeless. I wouldn’t be able to feed my two girls,” she says. “They have clothes thankfully but they grow so fast. What about shoes? And they would outgrow their clothes within a year.” Thanks to the Medi-Cal program her daughters are caught up on their immunizations and their cavities are fixed. Now she can focus on her own medical needs after not having insurance for 3 years. She never knew about any of these programs or free medical clinics until she needed them. She never thought she would be in this position. “I am so grateful,” she says.

What can you do? Tell Governor Brown not to cuts programs like CalWORKS and Medi-Cal that help people like my new friend. Cutting these programs will hurt real families here in California. Tell him these budget cuts aren’t just numbers on a page, they are a crushing blow to California families who struggle to keep their children in school and put food on their tables.