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SNAP / Food Stamps Changes: How Hungry Would You Be After 9 Days?
I assist a disabled person who depends on assistance from the government to get by. For anyone who worries about those out there who take advantage of the system, rest assured this is not one of those people. This person would happily trade places with any able-bodied person willing to do so, but I can guarantee you no able-bodied person who understood the truth of being disabled in America would be willing. This hub is being written for similarly disabled people who receive assistance as well as others who are truly in need of benefits. Believe me, no one is more angered by those who cheat the system than I am, but for now, let's leave that discussion somewhere else and take a look at a recent change the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) announced that takes effect July 1, 2011.
It should also be noted that I am in North Carolina and the changes I mention are for this state only. However, these changes are being implemented due to changes at the federal level and most states are making adjustments effective July 1st as well. Residents who are concerned in other states should check with the appropriate agency in that state to see exactly what changes are occurring there and how it will affect the citizens of their state.
I received a letter regarding SNAP benefits in early May 2011 and glanced at it briefly. It stated the date benefits would be applied to SNAP recipients Electronics Benefit Transaction (EBT) card would be changing in a couple of months. The date is determined by the last digit of the recipient's Social Security Number. The person I assist currently receives benefits on the 5th day of the month and the new benefit date would be the 7th day of the month. A bit of a nuisance but only because I would now have to remember the new date when I already have trouble keeping the old date straight. But a two day delay in July benefits would not be too tough to manage. I put the letter aside and did not give it a second thought. That is until today...
While speaking to someone at an agency that will hopefully be helping the person I assist with some housing issues, the man I was speaking with mentioned the food banks needing help in the area as they expect a much larger than usual number of requests in early July. When I asked why, he said it was due to some SNAP recipients having to wait a week or more to get their benefits due to the changing benefits schedule in July. It turns out, the person I assist is luckier than most. Almost everyone's benefit date is changing to a later date, but some more than others -- as much as nine days in some cases. The chart below illustrates the changes.
Social Security Number Ending Digit
Old Day of the Month for Benefits
New Day of the Month for Benefits
3rd (same day)
5th (1 day later)
7th (2 days later)
9th (3 days later)
11th (4 days later)
13th (5 days later)
15th (6 days later)
17th (7 days later)
19th (8 days later)
21st (9 days later)
I cannot imagine if I had to come up with extra food for nine days. If you know anyone receiving SNAP benefits who truly needs them, then you know that if they are lucky, they may have some canned goods and possibly some dry goods that can tide them over and maybe a little meat in the freezer, but they definitely would not have a stockpile of things like fresh produce, bread, milk and eggs. And those who are really in need -- those with severely limited incomes or those with children in the home -- they are likely in even worse shape with little or no food on hand.
It would be nice to think that caring Americans will all come together and fill the food banks, but the unfortunately that is very unlikely. And what the food banks do receive will likely be canned food or dry goods -- helpful but not what many will need. And what about those who either do not have a food bank in their area or simply have no way to get to the food bank? The person I assist already feels they ask too much of me. Many others certainly feel the same. Now they have to ask for another favor so they do not go hungry for nine days?
Do not get me wrong. I know we will not have thousands of people starving during those nine days and, in the end, everyone likely will survive. But it is disheartening to think that a need as basic as hunger is something that people here in America would even need to think about in their own neighborhood. Despite how it may seem, people who rely on the government really rely on their fellow citizens. We are the government. And we should not have a problem with feeding the hungry here in the United States.
If you are in need or if you want to help, these services may be a good place to start...
- Feeding America: Find a Local Food Bank
Search for local Feeding America food banks in your neighborhood and help feed America or seek assistance if you need it. Become a food bank volunteer and take part in helping feed over 25 million Americans each year.
- 2-1-1: A Referral Service for Those in Need
2-1-1 provides free, confidential information and referral for those needing help with food, housing, employment and more. Unfortunately not all areas currently have service providers, but worth a shot. 2-1-1 is supported by United Way.