When met with the struggles of raising a family on a limited income, families need to know where they can turn for help. Families experiencing temporary or prolonged economic difficulties can find food assistance through several different agencies, programs and resources. Taking advantage of these various resources can help families bridge the gap and provide nutritious and filling meals for their family.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a program operated by the United States Department of Agriculture. Formerly known as the federal food stamp program, SNAP provides support to families who meet eligibility requirements. Families must fall below a specific income level, based on family size, and meet resource guidelines to receive benefits. When calculating income, certain deductions may help reduce your income to qualify for food stamps. This includes deductions for dependent care, housing costs and child support payments. Local and state family services agencies process applications for SNAP.
Local resources can come to the rescue for low-income families struggling to put food on the table. Local churches and food banks can provide meals and basic supplies while families search for long-term assistance. Contact local homeless shelters and social services agencies to locate sources of temporary assistance, especially during the holidays. Often these programs receive donations from the surrounding community and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), a federal program to provide food for those in immediate need of food. They also can put you in touch with programs or agencies in your area or nationwide that can help with other needs, such as winter clothing and shelter.
Those with a low income, who continue to put food on the table with limited public or private help, may find themselves in a bind when an emergency arises. Natural disasters, such as tornadoes and floods, can devastate a community and leave families in search of food and short-term help. Organizations such as the American Red Cross and other relief organizations can help provide groceries and other emergency supplies following a natural disaster or personal disaster, such as a house fire.
Children and pregnant women are especially susceptible to nutritional deficiencies without adequate food supply. Kids Café, operated by Feeding America, operates in various locations across the country, such as churches, public schools and community centers. The program provides free meals for low-income children. The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) offers pregnant women, and others, additional support by providing food packages full of food rich in nutrients. Families can qualify for CSFP through their state family services programs.