When you are the go to organization for answers, it is a struggle when there are questions posed that we don't have the answers to. This has been the experience over these past few days as the government shutdown lingers on. If you haven't already heard, food stamp benefits for the month of February have been distributed to SNAP participants. The question I received was, "should I spend the money or is it safe on my card?". I had to pause for a moment to really think about that because I couldn't give an immediate answer and there is so much uncertainty around that. Here at Arise we work alongside poor and low-income folks who depend on government services and programs. It is hard enough living in poverty this additional layer of uncertainty is an undue burden on an already vulnerable population.
So here's what we do know. Benefits are safe on EBT cards. There was a glitch in the 3rd party payment processing system due to the increased traffic from people buying food. If you can buy in bulk, non perishable food items such as rice, beans (dry and canned), peanut butter, apple sauce, granola bars, fruit cups, ramen noodles, pasta, spaghetti sauce, mac and cheese, oatmeal, etc. Meats if you are able to freeze and store them, and to also leave money on your card to be able to purchase items like milk, eggs and bread as you need them.
We do our best to have the answers and if we don't, to direct folks to those that do. Our mission is to educate, organize, and unite low income people to know what our rights are, to stand up for those rights, and to achieve those rights; to educate the community at large as to its common interest in social justice for all. This government shut down affects all of us and now more than ever, we've got to lift each other up, resist and persist. That's an answer I know for sure.