There are so many stigmas about receiving public aid that I haven’t shared with many how my husband and I used food stamps for 18 months in 1981-1982. I don’t have much tolerance for those who are clueless about or, worse—are indifferent to the struggle of people living in poverty. So, there is more than one reason I haven’t wanted to pull this part of my history forward.
While on assistance my husband and I understood we were receiving a hand-up not a hand-out. We were able to plan for a better future more effectively knowing our children would be fed. This freed up critical energy to be bold, creative and helpful for our future.
Fast forward three decades and my husband does the valuable work of gang prevention and empowerment/advocacy of at-risk youth. I am a church professional (an Associate in Ministry in the ELCA) employed by Women of the ELCA as director for justice. We contribute to our church, our society and the world.
So now there is a great deal of talk about lazy people on aid even though the majority of domestic relief goes to children, not loafers. And, with SNAP being reduced—as BOTH the Senate and House propose, what is up with these people?!—many of these children will be unable to focus, think and learn as they will lose their free school lunches ( receiving SNAP is a requirement to receive the free school lunches).
Some brand people on aid as lacking integrity, lacking the will, lacking the gifts and lacking the potential. I could not disagree more! The most tragic result of these actions is that they erase stories like mine.
Reduce SNAP and make our nation even more vulnerable to disquiet. Reduce SNAP and you force us to stand naked before a compassionate God who once sent the Son to tell us: Whatsoever you do for the least of these, you do for me.
To whom much is given, much is required…
Inez Torres Davis is director for justice.