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Migdalia Rivera's picture

*Sandra is a single mother of two living in New York City.  She’s currently in school. She’s studying to become a registered nurse, a job that will provide her and her family with security. She’s grateful to have a job that works around her school schedule, even if they cannot provide her with enough hours to feed her family. She knows school will give her the opportunity to better her situation and so she tries desperately to stretch out her bi-weekly paycheck to pay for their essentials: rent, electricity, telephone (no internet), and necessities like soap, shampoo, toilet paper, etc. Sandra is also thankful for the SNAP benefits that put food in her children’s stomachs.

Unfortunately, Sandra recently received a raise.

Anyone else would have jumped for joy, but Sandra couldn’t. And, for good cause. You see that raise, a $1 per hour raise, caused her monthly SNAP benefits to be slashed by more than half what she originally received. She was beyond distraught knowing that her family was barely making it on what she was earning before. Now, hunger was knocking on their door.  

The benefits cliff, where a recipient receives a wage increase that causes a reduction or elimination of benefits even though they are still technically low wage, is a concern. Typically, families that accept a wage increase are left without benefits that would provide their families with food assistance and childcare subsidies, which allow them to work.


In a city full of prosperity, the plight of families to put food on the table cannot be ignored. According to the USDA, New York has one of the highest food-insecurity rates in the United States. Sandra is just one of countless New Yorkers struggling to find affordable, nutritious food for themselves and their families.

Wrap your minds around this: 1 in 5 children in the United States goes to bed hungry.

This is unacceptable.

Families should not have to choose between keeping a roof over their head or eating. Because that is a choice that many working families have to make.

We can change this.

There are key nutrition programs, like SNAP, WIC, and school lunch, among others, that fill in the gap for families like Sandra’s. They are a lifeline.  

Unfortunately, Congress is proposing a budget that will gut SNAP. This must not happen. Americans - veterans, senior citizens, the disabled, families, and children, are hungry.

We must not let them down. Join me in asking Congress to step up to the plate and protect SNAP for families like Sandra’s, and for many others, who want to provide for their own but have fallen on hard times.


*Sandra has chosen to remain anonymous. She chose to use to do so because of the stigma associated with accessing a nutrition program that was set up to help working families like hers.

Hunger is not a crime. Need should not diminish a person’s worth.

Unfortunately, this very real stigma keeps many from programs that will put food on their table. There currently remains a gap in program participation, with only 61% of food insecure households participating in one or more key nutrition programs (WIC, SNAP, School Lunch, etc.). See Household Food Security in the United States in 2014 for more information.

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