Opinion: SNAP helps folks get food, changes people’s worlds

She is a single mom. Her daughter was seven years old and stood by her side. They were about to leave the CVOEO Food Shelf when staff overheard the little girl say to her mom in a whisper “You forgot to pay.” Then with a smile that changed our world she said, “Mom, we’ve got to come to this grocery store more often.”
SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as Food Stamps. It is part of the Federal Farm Bill and is in danger of being decimated by people who don’t worry about paying their grocery bills. Decisions are being made in Washington by people who can choose between chicken and beef, fish and the freshest of vegetables: not by people who go into a food shelf and are limited by what is on the shelves, who count every penny, who often have to choose between purchasing food and paying rent.
SNAP began in 1933 as a form of relief during the Great Depression. Food Stamps were formalized in 1939 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. President Kennedy strengthened the program in 1961. The need was still great. In 1991 the program was cut. In 2000 the Food Stamp Program was expanded. The EBT card was introduced and with it more respect for those using these benefits. In that year qualified immigrants were eligible as were some children under 18. In 2014 new provisions to enhance nutrition were introduced.
One of the battles going on in Washington right now is a battle over food: Who gets it? Who deserves it? Who doesn’t need it?  Vermont’s Congressional Delegation, led by Senator Patrick Leahy, is fighting to maintain benefits that will feed those in poverty. There are others pushing to reduce or eliminate that source of nourishment for children, the disabled, elderly and for those who care for them. “In the richest nation in the world, no one should have to struggle to put food on their table,” the Senator said, arguing the House bill would “increase food insecurity” to the detriment of both families and farmers.
Here in Vermont, SNAP is our 3Squares Vermont Program or Food Stamps. Eligibility is based on 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. The benefit amount depends on household size, income, and expenses. An average monthly benefit per household is about $235.
Still we see children eating the food just gathered from the Food Shelf shelves even before they leave to go outside. They come through CVOEO doors hungry.
The State of Vermont has supported the SNAP Program with outreach efforts and with the Farm to Family coupons to get fresh fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s markets onto the tables of Vermonters. CVOEO has supported the Seed to Seedlings program to promote gardens in backyards, in window boxes and throughout the community.
In the “richest nation in the world” there is enough food for all. That decision should be settled.
Jan F. Demers is the executive director of CVOEO.

Share this story:

More News
US Probation Office Uncategorized

US Probation Office Request for Proposals

US Probation Office 2×1.5 062024 RFP

Middlebury American Legion Uncategorized

Middlebury American Legion Annual Meeting

Middlebury American Legion 062024 1×1.5 Annual Meeting

Sports Uncategorized

MAV girls’ lax nets two triumphs

The Mount Abraham-Vergennes cooperative girls’ lacrosse team moved over .500 with a pair o … (read more)

Share this story: