23 March 2013

Joanna Cruz: Witness to Hunger

The Ms. Foundation for Women is celebrating Women’s History Month with a blog carnival featuring the voices and profiles of women across the country. This Month of Action is generously supported by our friends in Seattle.

By Joanna Cruz

I am a mother. I am a worker. I am a witness. And I am on food stamps.

Too often, people think that individuals on public assistance programs are lazy; I would like for them to spend one day in my shoes to change that perception.

I work 35 hours a week cooking food for other people, while struggling to feed my own family. I work the night shift so I am there to care for my children during the day – meaning that in addition to being hungry, I am tired all the time. Despite being physically tired, I became more exhausted of being ignored. I joined a program called Witnesses to Hunger in order to have a voice.

With my voice, I share that, even while working, I still qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. I receive less than $6 per person per day. What other people might spend on their morning coffee at Starbucks I budget to feed my child for an entire day and often I go without eating to make sure my children are fed. Even with the food stamps, I struggle to make the money last for the entire month. I try to buy my children healthy food, but fruits and vegetables are expensive and hard to find in my community. Where they are available, at some stands, they do not accept food stamps.

While I work hard in hopes of surviving without food stamps or other public assistance, I raise my voice so others know the importance of SNAP. I am a Witness to Hunger because I have lived hunger and want to make sure my children do not have the same struggles. For that to happen, we need strong nutrition programs to ensure our children have a strong future.

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