Food stamps are an important part of many families’ budgets. The food stamp program is also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Most communities, however, also have alternative resources to assist families who need food assistance but who cannot qualify for food stamps or who do not want to apply for them.
About one in every seven Americans use the food stamp program as of December 2010. The average benefit per person per month ranges from about $20 to $24. In total, about 43 million Americans are using food stamps, which is about 14 percent of the American population.
Most communities have food pantries where area residents can go to get assistance. Each food pantry has its own rules about who can get food based on residency in the area, income and other requirements. Some are open only certain days of the week and during limited hours as they are volunteer-staffed.
Community Feeding Centers
Soup kitchen facilities are also available in many communities. They often serve meals five days a week, and may be open for all three meals of the day, depending on the facility. Balanced meals are served in a communal room where people can eat together.
Call 211, the United Way’s national phone number, to access local social resources. You can also search 211’s website to find local food assistance resources. Your community may well have other food assistance programs (such as Meals on Wheels) and resources other than soup kitchens and food pantries. You may also be able to find programs that assist those on food stamps with finding training and work opportunities.