Heather from Florence, MA

Faces of the Federal Budget

The first time I applied for food stamps was right after [a] car accident ... I was living in a homeless shelter. … I was very, very sick and I didn't have any income … They were a lifesaver for me because it meant that I could eat.

Now, when my husband passed away this past [year] … I lost 2/3 of our income and I had to go and apply for food stamps [again], and it was 6 weeks [to get processed]. It was a huge security check, I had to turn over all my bank records, it was a much more lengthy and difficult process ... It was more like an interrogation.

I don't know why the process has gotten more difficult, but if it is to control fraud, I think it could work backwards because if I'm interested in ripping the government off I'm going to be a lot more bold-headed. … Somebody who's physically sick or who is living in a car with her 2 kids or a guy who just got laid off and comes from a working class immigrant background and has a lot of issues around asking for help or [someone like] my mom [who] came from a generation where you just took care of it yourself, they're all going to have a really hard time just asking in the first place. … To make it through] the process itself you almost have to be well enough to get a job. ... So it may be that sometimes the people who need it the most may get screened out by the process itself.

I can understand people's frustration with [the program] … [but] I've seen people who need food stamps and they have a 40 hour a week job. I mean, do we really want people to starve? That doesn't make any sense to me. So I think there might be some very good reasons to change how it's administered, but cutting it doesn't make any sense.

One of the nice things about the food stamp program is it means that whatever store you go to to use your food stamps, those people are employed. And it means the people who produce the food that you're buying are employed. So, if you're looking at what happens when you take away that dollar, how much of that dollar is actually coming back as taxes? So, that's something that they don't often figure in. And one of the other nice things about the food stamp program is that if you are working a 40 hour a week minimum wage job and your partner loses his or her job and you have children, the food stamps actually may be the thing that means that you can continue to work because one of the easier ways to get help is to simply quit your job, you're both unemployed, and then you qualify for a lot more including food stamps, which then means somebody else is not paying taxes. That doesn't make any sense to me either. It makes more sense to give the amount of help that somebody is going to be able to use and still keep them working and keep all these other people working at the same time.

Heather from Florence, MA | Map

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