Alice of Holten likes to play a game in which she imagines a life different from that in which she lives now. About it writes Yahoo!News.
“What is it like, — asks it, — never worry about money?”
She asked this question recently in a homeless camp where she lives in northeast Portland, chatting with friends outside her tent about what would happen if they had unlimited supply of money. Of course, they’d always be warm, clean and had a roof over my head, they agreed. Perhaps best of all is that then they would never be hungry.
32-year-old Holten is one of an estimated 36 million Americans who use food stamps SNAP.
There are many potential changes in the Program of additional assistance nutrition (SNAP), the administration of U.S. President Donald trump announced that the first major changes will be implemented in early 2020, limiting the benefits available for able-bodied adults aged 18-49 — like Joltin who have no dependents. The changes will not affect children and their parents, people over 50, people with disabilities or pregnant women.
Hunger is a problem in the US: 37 million people suffer from food insecurity. This means that about 1 in 10 Americans experience difficulties with buying food and starving. And nearly a third, or 11 million children.
Abby Leibman, President and CEO of MAZON, a Jewish organization based in Los Angeles, fighting hunger, says: “whether they Realize it or not, every person connected to someone struggling with food insecurity”.
It’s the people who hide in plain sight, they are afraid to ask for help, because condemn them for it.
Changes in rules will cut SNAP by about $ 4.2 billion over five years and directly affect nearly 700,000 Americans of working age.
The charitable food sector is food banks, pantries and kitchens for the poor — such organizations will need to nearly double their budgets and production volumes.
Critics say the move is trump’s latest step to limit food benefits to Americans with low incomes. Forty-four percent of food stamp recipients are working families, and 70% of them are children. They get about $ 120 a month in benefits, and many rely on food pantries and food banks in addition to their benefits.
Other proposals to reduce the program include limited deductions for payment of housing and communal services (which are accounted for when someone receives food stamps SNAP) and change the way that States automatically register people who are already receiving other forms of Federal assistance.
Supporters say the step protects the US taxpayers, claiming all who can work, get a job and support themselves.
“We need to encourage people, handing them a helping hand, but not allowing them to become infinitely extended hand, — said the head of the Department of agriculture Sonny Perdue. — Now is the time for every able-bodied American to find work.”
Holten says it’s not so simple.
She has been without work for almost four years since I returned to Oregon from Kansas. When Joltin ill, family members in Portland told her to quit her job in the field of fast food and moved home. Shortly thereafter, her mom’s boyfriend, who paid for the apartment suddenly went off, leaving Holten, her friend and mother in a hopeless situation. They couldn’t pay the rent and was evicted. Since then, they became homeless, living on the street with his dog, which also need something to feed them.
Holten struggling to leave the camp for the homeless to find a job, but is afraid to leave his mother. She was looking for work, but “it’s hard,” she says, especially when you have a rumbling in my stomach.
“Without food,” she says, ” you can’t think.”
Right now Holten visited food banks in Portland three to five times a month, but she expects to do this more often if it will be deprived of benefits.
In the Catholic Church of St. Rita in the North-East of Portland, where Joltin visits the pantry once a month, suggests that will struggle with the increased need.
“It would be difficult to figure out how to cover it financially, says Chris Kresic, a volunteer from the food pantry Saint Rita for 20 years. – If we try to compensate for all that people will lose, our pantry will be empty in 2 months. We need to think about new strategies.”
Robert Campbell, managing Director of the Chicago food Bank network Feeding America, said that the administration trump did what wouldn’t the Congress when lawmakers rejected a similar reduction in the bill about farming in 2018.
Although food banks in the United States annually serve 46 million people, according to Feeding America, the benefits SNAP provides nine times more power. It will be very difficult to compensate.
“For those who lose benefits, it can be absolutely devastating, says Campbell. Philanthropy cannot fill the gap in food assistance from the SNAP program”.
Campbell says that repeated efforts of the administration to trump to restrict the use of food stamps show a clear trend to adopt a political position without considering how it will affect poor Americans.
“Deprivation of food will not make them more fit for work, says Campbell. — It will simply make them hungry.”
In Colorado, 30-year-old lance Cheslock worked in the non-profit homeless shelter and food Bank and La Puente in Alamosa, watching the rise and fall of employment in the economy.
“For us it’s just a disaster to try to reimburse the food, which compensates for what was previously provided by the government. As a community we will suffer the consequences of malnutrition,” says Cheslock.
Cheslock says that he and other leaders of La Puente, you know that for most people a good job is a way out of poverty and into self-sufficiency. The problem, he said, is that many of the “able-bodied” people, which targeted new restrictions, not ready to work. Perhaps they struggled with homelessness, substance abuse, or mental disorders due to which they find it difficult to hold a job without extra help.
In 2018 in Massachusetts, a member of Parliament Natalie Higgins, has set a goal to feed her and her fiancé for five days, using only food stamps, which was only for $ 45. She knew that it would be difficult. But she had no idea how — and this despite the fact that she had access to a private kitchen, a reliable car and even a pressure cooker, which meant that she could buy inexpensive dried beans instead of more expensive canned.
“I really wanted to show that I realize how inadequate these benefits, says Higgins. — For many people SNAP and not nearly enough for a month,” she says.
Higgins and her fiance ate a lot of rice and beans, supplemented with frozen vegetables, oatmeal and peanut butter. Fresh fruit and vegetables were out of their price range. After a few days she had a nagging headache and she was feeling overwhelmed — physical symptoms of malnutrition.
“When you set minimum wages, and housing costs continue to rise, you just do not give people the opportunity to make ends meet, says Higgins. — I still can’t understand how cruel we can be as a country, to take away this food aid”.
The fact that the news of impending cuts came during the holidays, some seem to be heartless.
“This is a terrible time for the poor,” says Leibman.
51-year-old A je Scipio is a program Manager northeast Portland food programme in North-East Portland, a large food pantry, which is in 2018, has served more than 11,000 families. Scipio took a job a year ago and was worried at first that it is not enough emotional bandwidth. Demand in this region is huge and heartbreaking: one three-month period, the program serves 8,700 people.
She’s afraid to think about the future. She announced the new rules in the framework of the North-Eastern food programme: since January, customers can visit the shop only twice a month. Previously, they had unlimited access.
Scipio is skeptical of the administration to trump a thriving economy: “the Economy can flourish, for some people,” she says, ” but she’s not thriving to immigrant families or families with low income.”
“It’s not a problem of the poor people, she says. — There are hard working people, middle class people, people with a good job who are hungry every day.”
Tess Robertson and Chris DeFrank shop in the North-Eastern food programme just over a year. They only take perishable foods because they currently live in my Toyota Camry 98. About milk and frozen meat can not be considered, which means that they have to make more trips to the store, buying them in smaller quantities.
28-year-old Robertson recently got a job at a local factory Amazon, but part-time, and paid her only $15,10 per hour. She says she applied for dozens of jobs everywhere and not take it. She’s trying to get a full day in the Amazon. She’s worried that this will not happen before will start reducing SNAP.
36-year-old DeFrank also workable, but says he is still recovering from injuries received at his previous job to repair cars. Only a few months ago Defranza stabbed by a drug addict when he was fixing the car. He could not find a permanent job since then because he has terrible PTSD. To help him re-adjust to being around unfamiliar people, he, along with Robertson began volunteering in the pantry.
Previously dependent on heroin DeFrank tries not to think about spring, when his life and Robertson can become even more complicated.
“I try not to think about the future too much, because thinking about it will make you nervous. And when you’re an addict and you’re stressed out, you can recur, he says. — It’s just survival.”