Food Stamps program creates stigma amongst students

posted in: Opinion | 0

There is an unnecessary stigma around food stamps. Recipients are often seen as lazy and “moochers” of this system. With 42.2 million people participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), one might think Americans would have a more welcoming stance towards their usage.

SNAP gets a bad reputation because of the few individuals who abuse the governmental system. Due to this improper use SNAP beneficiaries are often looked down upon in the community and users can become uncomfortable using their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards in stores for fear of being associated with the few who commit fraud. Pacific University junior Mikie​ Relloque, a food stamp recipient, said, “You shouldn’t care about what other people think when you have to use food stamps.”

People turn toward food stamps when they have run out of all other options. Food stamps can be used when their jobs and other resources have failed them. It is possible to have a job and work hard but still require assistance to fill in the gaps. In fact more than 60 percent of those who benefit from SNAP also hold a job. One can only conclude that it is not a problem with laziness, but with wages. It is evident that the federal government is harsh on Americans who are trying to support their families and keep a job at the same time.

Some college students are all too familiar with the difficulties of the food stamp system. Many students need food stamps but do not qualify because their parents make “too much” money. SNAP eligibility is based on monthly income, so many college students from middle-income families do not qualify.

Even college students who do qualify do not always know that they are eligible. It is a little known fact that all students who qualify for federal work-study also qualify for food stamps.

Relloque advises all students to check and see if they qualify for SNAP benefits because it comes with a lot of advantages.

“The process is a little time consuming and there’s quite a bit of paperwork, but it’s honestly super worth it,” Relloque said.

Depending on the person, one can receive around $200 a month, which is renewable. It is also usable in any state, making it a versatile resource.

Not only do food stamps give assistance to struggling families, they help improve the diets of low-income households. Nutrient-poor food is often the cheapest option available, and on a college budget, many students turn toward these choices. This leads to an increase in unhealthy eating habits and health disparities.

Food stamps are a resource that should be utilized if one is given the chance. There should be no shame in using the SNAP program for a little extra money each month to feed yourself. The stigma surrounding food stamps should be dispelled because no one wants to be hungry.


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