November 5, 2018

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides benefits that helped lift over 3 million Americans out poverty in 2017 and that helped feed 40 million low-income individuals in an average month last year. While those numbers make it clear that SNAP matters to Americans, the narratives of SNAP recipients provide powerful, personal snapshots of the program’s impact.

The State of Obesity recently released a collection of firsthand accounts from SNAP participants. The collection of SNAP stories goes beyond facts and figures and uses personal experience to discuss the critical support SNAP provides to individuals from all walks of life across the nation. StoryCorps and Upworthy produced the narratives with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Below are illuminating excerpts from the story collection:

  “I was able to keep up on my fresh produce. Produce is expensive. With my SNAP benefits, I’m able to buy fresh vegetables and fresh fruit that are high in nutrients for breastfeeding moms.” (Andrika Harmon and Kristi Gay, “How SNAP Enables this Busy Alabama Mom to Provide for her Young Family”)

  “The one thing that I learned from my mother was that individuals … need help at some time in their life, for whatever situation … people use [SNAP] for the time they need it. I was one of those people. This is what enabled me to finish college, and I went on to get more degrees and have a career. Having those benefits was my way out and my way to make a better life for myself and my daughters.” (Kolia Souza and Brian Johnson, “How SNAP Helped this Kansas Mom Leave an Abusive Relationship”)

“The whole time I was in college, I was trying to figure out a way to make sure that I could take care of my daughter. I still had to work. I couldn’t stay on campus because I had a child. I lived in an apartment, and so I still needed to cover my rent, utility bills, Pampers, clothes. I worked every single day of the week, but there wasn’t enough money to do all of it. By having SNAP benefits, I didn’t have to worry about food.” (Jennifer Wells-Marshall and Helen Jones, “How SNAP Helped this Alabama Mom Graduate College and Give her Daughter a Healthy Start”)

“I try not to make any assumptions about other people’s lives because it’s easy to suddenly be in that place where you have nowhere to go … And you never know who’s going through something like that.” (Stephanie Land, “This mom left an abusive relationship and fell into poverty. Here’s how she got out.”)

  “It’s people like you that give us a sense that we can get through this hard time.” (Shayna Horne and Tiffany Nieto-Gaytan, “How SNAP Supports this Texas Family Following their Military Service”)

Dive into The State of Obesity’s “SNAP Stories” collection in full.