Photo Essay Shows Human Dimension of Food Stamps | Civil Eats

Photo Essay Shows Human Dimension of Food Stamps

The Faces of Food Stamps

More Americans than ever before, 50 million, are in poverty. One in seven people rely on the government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, or food stamps. And they are not always the people you might expect. Formerly middle class families, recent veterans, college graduates and farmworkers are featured in this new photo essay, the latest report produced by the Food & Environment Reporting Network in collaboration with Switchyard Media, which first appeared on MSN.

Reporter Malia Wollan found that many of those featured are relying on foods like pasta and peanut butter to stave off hunger. Recent veteran Steven Johnson of Leander, Texas, was medically discharged from the Army in January, but has yet to begin receiving his disability benefits, which take an average of 394 days to process. After pawning jewelry and attempting to sell his TV on Craigslist, his family signed up for nutrition assistance. “Food stamps were the last resort for me,” says Johnson.

Half of all food stamps recipients are children. Another subject, Alejandro, a farmworker in the Central Valley of California, harvested tomatoes, chilies, oranges and pineapples this year. But when there is nothing to pick he goes without income for weeks, making it difficult for his girlfriend and their three children. Food stamps cover the basics. “If we had more money to spend I’d buy more milk and more juice for the children,” he says.
To view the slideshow, go here.The Faces of Food Stamps

The slide show was originally published here on MSN.

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Paula Crossfield is a founder and the Editor-at-large of Civil Eats. She is also a co-founder of the Food & Environment Reporting Network. Her reporting has been featured in The Nation, Gastronomica, Index Magazine, The New York Times and more, and she has been a contributing producer at The Leonard Lopate Show on New York Public Radio. An avid cook and gardener, she currently lives in Oakland. Read more >

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  1. B Togge
    I am educated but struggling just as many in this economy.
    I make about 7K a year and I don't get how a family cannot eat reasonably healthy and not be hungry... especially in summer... with SNAP Benefits. I work and make very little... and have even downsized to be able to live within our means. My income literally just enough to cover rent expenses for 2 bdrm very small place for teen and I ... and car expenses. I drive and insure a car that is almost ten years old. We shop at Goodwill and SalVal for clothes supplementing my teens wardrobe with winter coats/boots at end of season sales by guessing what size for the next year. I have a computer that is over 6 years old and get internet now for kid's school needs. I shop smart when I buy groceries. I seldom buy food unless it is on sale. I NEVER buy proteins full price. I often buy markdown grocery items and almost out of date manager specials. I use coupons and buy little junk food. I buy ham and larger beef or pork cuts when it's cheap and have it sliced for free. Ham at a dollar something a pound becomes ham sliced thin for sandwiches and thicker ham steaks and the ends are cubed for scrambled eggs or a bean or lentil soup. I utilize the internet to research ways to cook my finds. Farmers markets at end of season have good deals for produce that I can freeze or jar to bring some fresher (not canned) veggies to table. Portions are suitable for nutrition and calories now so we both have slowly but surely and safely lost weight. At dinner, I plate half veggies with other half of plate being 2/3 protein (4-6 oz) & 1/3 carb. Sunday and one other day we have plated dinners like above. One is soup and salad to utilize leftovers. Three days are mixed up... grilled sandwiches , pasta or beans with salad and a veggie nights (stirfry). One night is "breakfast for dinner with eggs, Breakfast is oatmeal, cereal with fruit and yogurt. Lunch during summer is usually sandwiches or leftovers. We don't throw away food. Snacks are often cheese/crackers, fruit, carrots, veggies, cottage cheese, yogurt, oatmeal peanut butter cookies homemade easily. Ice cream when on a great sale with coupons. Milk... fresh for drinking and boxed for cooking. We make tea to drink also.
    So how can you show a picture of an obviously overweight mom as I used to be and talk about hunger? Sure there are times that I wanted the expensive junk and times that I ate food when I would have preferred something else but I use my SNAP help and shopped wisely and was not hungry.
  2. Will you share my page, It's a SNAP with your friends and fans?

    Here's the link

    It's for limited/fixed income families to share ideas and recipes for preparing healthy meals for their families.

    It's a collaborative page where members and friends will share info and build the community.

    SNAP families, and other contributors can share information on recipes, services, and other info that may be helpful to people receiving SNAP benefits, or stretching their food dollars to feed their families.

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