Alex from Dayton, OH

Faces of the Federal Budget

My first experience with the federal budget was before I was even able to comprehend anything—one or two or three years old. My family was on food stamps. … And I think the program functioned as it was designed to when we were on it, because my mom was single and struggling to provide food for us and I think that program allowed her to keep her budget in order pretty well. I mean it took that weight off her back. And that was my first experience with it, I would imagine… I never had any direct visible relationship or apprehension of our being on food stamps. But I do remember our kitchen being filled with food that met the qualifications or criteria that I’m now familiar with for the food stamp program.

[I had a friend on food stamps and] to see the transactions taking place at the counter, and a human being keeping their body running from the generosity of a nation is a moving experience—to see that, to be that close to it, and to see it work. To visually in your mind make those two things compatible—the percentage removed from your paycheck, and then seeing someone put food in their mouths to power them up the sidewalk—is very gratifying. And it makes you proud of yourself, and the larger culture that you belong to, and being able to support it, really by just passively doing nothing. You’re just going to work, and letting all the strings be pulled behind you.

Some entitlement programs are much more difficult to talk about. But the SNAP program—I’m a big supporter of that. It’s the simplest, easiest to comprehend, and the most problem-free. Free food for people who can’t afford it. Of course, it gets more complex than that: do they deserve it, and do they have money for it, and other more pressing needs, and so on. But, that was important to me to see that. Some people never do.

Alex from Dayton, OH | Map

About Stories and Opinions

Stories and opinions presented in Faces of the Federal Budget are those of the individual who submitted them, and are not necessarily the opinions of National Priorities Project. NPP reviews story submissions for appropriateness prior to posting and does not modify content beyond review for spelling and typos.