At least 12.5% of Western Massachusetts residents are living below the poverty line, and that number is growing.
Many Americans think they know about food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Frequently, this program, which offers low-income and food insecure families access to groceries, comes under fire for “causing dependence” or “draining the nation’s resources.” In fact, the average length of time a new recipient stays on the program is 8 to 10 months. And according to the USDA, every $5 that’s spent in SNAP generates more than $9 in economic activity. SNAP is proven effective in fighting hunger and helping people gain a foothold in trying economic times.
These facts aside, all too often the voices of those who receive benefits are missing from the conversation. To promote the premier of the upcoming film, the people behind A Place at the Table have created an interactive website profiling individuals who once relied on SNAP and are now leaders in the arts, government, business, sports and education.
Here are some words from those featured in the gallery and their experiences with food stamps:
“There were times when I was growing up when we literally didn’t have $10 to our name, so food stamps kept us fed when we were completely broke.” – Moby, 5-time Grammy nominated recording artist
“My mom did everything she could to raise my brother, sister and I, but sometimes there wasn’t enough money to go around.” – Ruth Riley, WNBA champion and Olympic Gold Medalist
“When my father was diagnosed with MS and had to stop working, it was food stamps that helped my family keep our heads above the water.” – Sen. Patty Murray, first female Senator from Washington
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