This week, Newark Mayor Cory Booker is tweeting his week on food stamps (you can read the Mashable article and follow his Twitter feed by clicking here). In an effort to build solidarity for folks who live on food stamps, and to raise awareness of issues around food justice, Booker will spend just $29.78 on food this week, from 12/4 to 12/11.
Imagine getting by on $29.78 worth of food stamps. Every penny counts. What's astounding is that food stamps isn't some liberal-heart-bleeding safety net program for the poorest of the poor. According to a recent New York Times article, over 46 million Americans receive food stamps, up from 26.3 million Americans in 2007.
46 million. That means 15 percent of the population in this country are counted poor, and therefore eligible for food benefits. What does this mean? It means poverty is growing. It means a lot of people need help to eat. It means something as fundamental as hunger is a ginormous societal problem that's hiding in plain sight.
A couple of things in response.
One, maybe you're receiving food benefits. If so, have you thought about going to school to get new skills leading to a better job? The Workforce Education office at Green River Community College administers several different funding programs that help low-income students pay for school. One of those programs - the Basic Food Employment & Training Program - specifically helps food stamp recipients. To apply, visit go2collegefree.com or call 253-833-9111 ext 2211.
Two, maybe you're having trouble meeting your grocery bill each week and it's never occurred to you to apply for food stamps / food assistance. If so, you can apply online at foodhelp.wa.gov. It's a quick and relatively easy application process.