Calfresh/SNAP is an important Federal nutrition program to thousands of families in San Diego. It is unfortunate that conservatives have accused recipients of fraud. There is minimal evidence that SNAP users engage in fraud. There are 47 million of Americans that rely on SNAP as a means of providing nutritious food for their families. This Challenger reflects on the political issues surrounding cuts to SNAP.
I found myself confronted by a dilemma last night. Our neighbor recently went through a serious surgery, leaving her off her feet for the next month. In an act of good will, my roommates and I decided to put together a food basket with fruits and muffins for her and her caretakers. I offered to gather, bake and bring… the only problem was, I didn’t have any money budgeted for helping out my neighbor. I struggled with my fidelity to the Challenge and raising my own internal awareness of the daily choices many low-income Americans face versus helping out. In the end, I did both.
While I stepped outside of the confines of the Challenge to show support for a neighbor, I thought about what I could have done if I didn’t have money. Most likely, my neighbor and her family would have been just as appreciative for my visit, regardless of the basket of food in my hands, but would I have felt comfortable showing up with nothing to share? And if I was truly in a position where I could not afford food for myself on my own, would I have the time and energy to reach out to others in need?
Questions arose: How does our focus on “just making it through the day” affect our ability to be compassionate and contributing members of society? What else would we be able to achieve, not only as individuals, but as communities and a nation if we no longer had to think about meeting our basic needs. I’ll admit, walking into the grocery store to buy fruits and muffin mix while my stomach growled and I had no money to fill it did not make me the friendliest customer in VONs.
Ironically, this year’s CalFresh Challenge is occurring at the same time as the passage of one of the largest proposed cuts to SNAP in the history of the program. Right wing politicians are circulating a media created image of a “surfer dude” living on CalFresh to evoke unjust claims of “public benefit fraud and abuse” while claiming to balance the budget by completely eliminating food assistance to 3.8 million Americans in the coming year. Meanwhile, 1 in 4 children struggle with hunger at some point during the year, and if these cuts are enacted, this number is only sure to increase.
Political pundits and legislators alike gloss over the surface of key reforms, too busy spouting rhetoric to engage in meaningful conversation about how to truly improve our nation’s food systems. As a result, we are unable to “reach across the aisle” to help one another end a plague that is slowly deteriorating the status of our nation.
Submitted by a Cal Fresh Challenger