One third of Americans who depend on the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (or SNAP, of short), still depend on food pantries to feed their families, that's according to a recent United States Department of Agriculture report.
The report is based on 23 million households who depended on SNAP in 2014. The results suggest a grim picture that SNAP is just not enough to provide a monthly food income.
“If I’m ok with eating junk food and processed foods I can live off it,” said Cecily Holstead, a single-mom and full-time student who uses SNAP, “but for me and my daughter, I want to feed her healthy [food] so it’s not enough.”
Holstead receives around $357 a month from SNAP for groceries.
She depends on services like the market at Metro Caring to make up for the extra costs needed to feed herself and her daughter.
“I can stretch it to a point,” she said, “but there’s going to be at least one week out of the month where we wouldn’t have food without Metro Caring.”
Metro Caring serves 110 families a day at their market that’s stocked with fresh produce and fruit donated to them from nearby grocery stores.
“More and more people are needing to supplement their income,” said Ryan Galanaugh, the program director for Metro Caring in downtown Denver.
He said they plan to enroll another 350 SNAP recipients this year.
“As were all well aware, the cost of living is outrageous here,” he said.
Galanaugh said nearly half the people they serve qualify for SNAP, but don’t use it, adding that Colorado ranks as one of the lowest states for SNAP recipients.
“There’s challenges associated with the application process, challenges associated with lack of outreach,” he said.
For Holstead, who also volunteers for Metro Caring, the help means getting to feed her daughter things like raspberries without having to worry about having problems getting more food later in the month.
“I grew up eating processed foods, junk food, going out to eat and I have become obese,” she said, “and I don’t want that for my daughter.”