A nonprofit employee talks about her year on food stamps

With the passing of the Agriculture Act of 2014, many people are reflecting on one of the Act’s biggest changes: $8 billion in cuts over the next 10 years to SNAP (formerly known as food stamps).

One of those people is Laura Mizes,Youth Outreach Coordinator at Mazon, a nonprofit that works to end hunger in the United States and Israel. Over on GOOD, Laura talks about her year on food stamps while she was in AmeriCorps:

Having only $200 a month for food – $50 a week or $7 a day – was definitely challenging. No longer could I browse the grocery store with a list and also pick up extra things that caught my eye. On SNAP, my list had to be strategically planned, and there was no room for items that I hadn’t planned on purchasing. The simple act of grocery shopping itself was indeed profoundly different.

The quality of the food I consumed that year changed too. I did my best to include nutritious foods in all my meals, but fresh foods like fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy are expensive. Who would ever think a package of strawberries would be a luxurious treat that I could rarely afford? By the end of the month, my budget was often so tight that a $0.79 box of mac and cheese was my only option. My commitment to living a healthy lifestyle could no longer be a top priority.

Read the rest of her experience on GOOD.

Stories like this, that weave personal, professional, and political narratives often bring up a variety of complex issues, as reflected in the comments: the shame some people feel in requesting assistance; the wide range of people who need food stamps; and the irony of a government program not providing enough money to live on.

What do you think of Laura’s story? Do you have one to share of your own? Share your comments below.

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Former Editor and Creator of Idealist Careers, a publication of Idealist.org. Follow me on Twitter @ajlovesya.
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