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Financial and Food Assistance for Low Income Families

Updated on October 27, 2014
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Miss Marsh has been a seasoned writer for 10+ years. She currently holds a BA in Writing and English and has an MS in Psychology.


Don't be afraid to ask for financial assistance

Financial trouble in the economy has made daily living difficult for many low income families. Not only are people are being laid off from jobs, but gas prices are rising to an all time high. Groceries are also becoming less and less affordable leaving families to wonder how they will feed their loved ones. How do we thrive in an economy that is threatening our financial well being, much less attempt to get ahead? The answer is aid from government programs that offer financial assistance for low income families.


Unemployment Compensation (UC)

Those that have been laid off from work should apply for unemployment compensation. Unemployment compensation offers a government funded paycheck to compensate for loss of work. It’s easy to apply for and is your right as a previously working American citizen. To apply for unemployment, search the web for your state's UC site. For example, if you live in Pennsylvania, simple type in "Pennsylvania unemployment compensation". Most UC sites allow you to apply right online and make it easy by following a few simple steps. You’ll find all sorts of information pertaining to unemployment compensation and phone number in case you have any questions. Note: you will need to claim the weeks you are off of work in a biweekly time frame, but all this will be explained on the site.


Utility Assistance Programs

If you find yourself struggling to pay your gas and electric bills, you should apply for utility assistance. Utility assistance programs offer grants to those low income families who have a difficult time paying for the high cost of gas and electric during the winter months. Programs, such as LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program), offer fuel and energy assistance for low income families who are eligible. LIHEAP has different income guidelines in each state so be sure to research your eligibility online. Finding LIHEAP help is easy. Simply search the web for utility assistance in your state by typing in “energy assistance” in (insert your state). You can also follow the link for LIHEAP in the resource list below for more information.


Health Insurance for the Uninsured and Underinsured

Many who are laid off from work lose their health insurance shortly after unemployment or are asked to pay extremely high premiums for COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) health insurance coverage. COBRA is an extension of health insurance coverage which usually requires paying amounts as high as $300-$800 a month. But with the recent trouble with the economy, many programs now offer assistance with adequate health insurance. Medicaid offers this assistance through the government as a means of free or low cost insurance for low income individuals who qualify. Visit your local public assistance office for information or search for "Medicaid" by state on the web. You can also follow the Medicaid link listed in the resource guide below for more information.


Food Stamps and Cash Assistance

Those who lose their jobs or encounter financial difficulty can find relief in the way of food stamp and cash assistance programs. Government assistance is available for buying groceries and purchasing non-food items by using what is referred to as an EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card. The Department of Public Welfare offers low income families, based on eligibility and family size, monthly financial assistance to feed their families and buy certain household items. Contact your state’s local public assistance office or the Department of Public Welfare. The internet also provides information on food stamp and cash assistance. Simply search for your state’s public assistance office by searching “public assistance” by state and/or county.


Food Pantries

Food pantries can also help low income families to feed their loved ones by offering free food to those who need it. The Salvation Army and the YWCA are two such food pantries that offers boxes and cans of non-perishable food, as well as breads, and condiments for those in need. Most will offer this service weekly to low income families. There are no qualification guidelines, but because there are so many low income families in need, you should use your own discretion when taking advantage of such programs. Soup kitchens also offer meals to low income families and actually offer three full meals a day. Search the web by state or county for food pantries and soup kitchens in your area. You can also follow the resource link below for more information.



Many area churches also help out those in need. Items are often donated to churches by members of the community that can be given to others who are facing a time of deprivation. Many churches stock up on non-perishable food, clothing, and even furniture and appliance items that are donated. Some churches even take monetary donations to keep in case families find themselves struggling without enough income to pay rent or utility expenses. Many of these churches allow you to donate your time to help others and give back to the community that is giving to you. For more information, check out any local church in your area, or search them out online.

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