By Ian Lawrence, SNAP Outreach Coordinator
One of the most commonly circulated myths about the SNAP program is that food benefits are only available to non-working populations. During outreach events and presentations, our SNAP Outreach team regularly encounters hard-working, industrious, yet poverty-stricken individuals who do not believe that they are eligible for SNAP simply because they or other members of their household work. Such individuals are usually elated to discover that, although there are certainly income limits for SNAP eligibility, nevertheless the program actually encourages recipients to find and maintain jobs. Our SNAP Outreach team has garnered a number of successful applications simply by dispelling SNAP myths about workers’ eligibility and aiding working people in receiving the food benefits they need to survive.
For hard-working Americans, increases in pay have often failed to adequately compensate for the swiftly rising cost of living. An individual working part-time for $8.25 per hour (the State of Delaware’s minimum wage) may work nearly 40 hours per week and still be eligible for SNAP. Although this individual may gross over $1,300 per month, without SNAP he or she may be unable to maintain a secure and stable life. Depending on an individual’s location in Delaware, it may be impossible to rent an apartment or house for under $1,000 per month. Given the rising costs of food and transportation, medical and utility payments, and automatic paycheck deductions, even a hard-working individual may be unable to successfully cover all of his or her monthly expenses in addition to a high rent payment. Moreover, in some areas of Delaware, such as the resort towns of Rehoboth, Dewey, and Bethany Beach, it may be almost unfeasible for an individual to find even a minimum wage job during the 9-month “off-season”. Therefore, hard-working yet struggling individuals often benefit greatly from enrollment in the SNAP program, which offers a maximum one-person allotment of $192 per month for the purchase of food.
Although so many hard-working people do not think they qualify for SNAP either because they “work too many hours” or because “food stamps aren’t for people with jobs,” the Food Bank of Delaware’s SNAP Outreach team is committed to ensuring that such individuals are educated properly about their potential eligibility for the SNAP program. If a higher percentage of eligible working households were to successfully claim the SNAP benefits to which they were entitled, the State of Delaware would be further along the road to alleviating poverty and ending hunger once and for all.
If you know a working individual or household (or anyone else) who is struggling to afford food, please encourage them to call Dan Jackson (New Castle County) at (302) 292-1305 ext 261 or Ian Lawrence (Kent/Sussex Counties) at (302) 424-3301 ext 109. Our SNAP Outreach team is happy to assist anyone in determining eligibility and, if applicable, in filling out a SNAP benefit application.