SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka food stamps), seems to be in some danger these days. This has me highly concerned. I've never needed food stamps, and I'm proud of that. But I have had months where money was really tight, and I was glad my mouth was the only one to feed. I was taught how to manage money well, but I know not everyone has received the blessings that I have had. Also, I want to know the assistance is there should I ever need it.
Over at Permission to Live, Melissa writes nicely about how SNAP benefits have helped her family in a time of job loss and challenges. Receiving SNAP benefits has let her family be fed and have a home while she and her wife looked for work. Melissa had always been a stay-at-home mom, so work at first was part-time and low paid.
I can't find the source right now, but I have read that most families that receive SNAP benefits are on for a short time (either less than one or two years) and typically use that money as a stop-gap to help them through hard times while they get back on their feet. SNAP can be used while people are working to supplement the pay they receive. It is different than a straight welfare check. I found a wonderful info sheet from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that explains how SNAP works.
I am blessed now to work at a school where my students do not have to suffer hardships. The school provides food as part of boarding, so there's never an excuse for not having eaten. But I had students last year that didn't always get meals. It is a challenge to be successful without food. To put it another way: it is easy to be score a run when you start the game on third base. Much more challenging if you need to start from home.
This past week, we all participated in school-wide community service. We spread out across the town where we live and worked to help others. It was a wonderful day, but I don't think all our students quite "get it." I heard more complaints than I'd like. But, ultimately, I feel the same way about community service as I do about SNAP. There but for the grace of God go I. I will help, with my tax dollars, my donations, and my time. I hope I never need to receive help back, but I'm glad the help is there.