Many of you have heard about the potentially devastating cuts to the SNAP program announced by the Department of Agriculture that will affect more than 700,000 vulnerable individuals, 70,000 of whom are in New York City alone. These drastic cuts are set to take effect on April 1 and will either reduce or eliminate needed food assistance for our most vulnerable citizens.
Those affected will turn to places like St. John’s Bread and Life for assistance. We want to be there to provide a safety net ensuring that our elderly guests, those who are homeless and/or suffering with mental illness, and particularly the children we serve receive the food support they need to survive and thrive.
Please consider standing with us as a voice for those most in need. How can you help? Call your local representatives and let them know that cuts to SNAP affect everyone. You can support our emergency food programs by making a donation. For every dollar raised we can provide one hot meal to a person in need.
Sr. Caroline Tweedy, RSM
Want to learn more? Read more below.
In December, the United States Department of Agriculture, which is in charge of SNAP benefits, announced that the department would be cutting benefits to an estimated 688,000 people as of April 1. The change, in a nutshell, would take any all benefits from “able bodied adults” who do not meet the 20-hour weekly work requirement.
SNAP benefits, which used to be called food stamps, provide around $40 a week to adults via a debit-like card that they can use at grocery and similar stores to buy food.* It is not enough money for a person to solely subsist on but is enough to supplement the food sources for someone who is food insecure.
When people hear the term “abled bodied adults,” what springs to mind are healthy, young adults who can easily work but choose not to. Reality is far different. There are a number of people who will be losing their benefits who are considered “able bodied,” but are still in desperate need of SNAP supports:
1. Those unable to work at least 20 hours a week because they are taking care of a sick or elderly family member
2. People who care for children of family members but do not have legal custody of those children
3. Adults (including veterans) who suffer from chronic mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD who have not qualified for disability benefits
4. Adults who work one or more part time jobs but can not manage to get 20 or more hours of work each week
5. Those who work as babysitters, dog walkers, or other “gig” based jobs that do not count toward the 20 hours a week needed
There are many more examples like this.
Now, as of April 1, these people will lose their food benefits. What will happen after that? The truth is, we don’t know exactly. Here at St. John’s Bread and Life, we are already preparing for an influx of new clients. As the largest emergency food provider in Brooklyn and Queens, we are strategizing how we can increase our donated food sources to meet the demand. Food is the fundamental building block of life, and we know how hard it is to work or take care of others when you are hungry.
While we hope that the government will reverse this decision, we know that change cannot happen before January of 2021. Until then, we will continue to follow how this change affects those we serve.
*Alcohol, cigarettes, and personal items such as deodorant cannot be purchased using SNAP