Community Voices: Nutrition Advocates Share Their Stories
“The day I applied for food stamps, I also applied to attend the local community college. I spent the next 2.5 years working part time, going to school full time, and using public assistance, including food stamps and free or reduced lunches for my two daughters.” –Robin
“As a result of [WIC], my kids have definitely become healthier and more energetic, where before they were at times lethargic and slept a lot.” –Asia
“I am a single, two-job working parent of three wonderful daughters … I successfully earned my college degree while on public assistance, and I have overcome years of extreme adversity, having experienced poverty, homelessness, public housing, food insecurity, economic instability, and the untimely passing of my children’s father.” –Vivian
These powerful stories are just a few of the many voices heard on Capitol Hill this past Thursday as part of the Community Voices: Why Nutrition Assistance Matters campaign. The Coalition on Human Needs recently collaborated with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Center for American Progress, Feeding America, the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), and Witnesses to Hunger to launch this national grassroots campaign asking individuals to share their personal experiences about the impact of nutrition assistance programs on their lives. Last Thursday, contributors from around the country came to Washington, DC to participate in a day of action, meeting with their elected members of Congress, members of the Administration, and sharing their stories during House and Senate briefings for Congressional staff. Their message was simple: Congress must continue to invest in these critically important nutrition programs that benefit millions of families and children across the country.
Nutrition programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and school breakfast and lunch programs are essential to many families across the nation. SNAP is a key program that provides 46 million very low-income Americans with desperately needed assistance to purchase a nutritionally adequate diet. In 2014, nearly ¾ of all SNAP participants were in families with children and the program lifted 4.7 million people out of poverty, including 2.1 million children. Additionally, research has shown that receipt of SNAP in early childhood improves high school graduation rates, adult earnings, and adult health. Similarly, students who participated in school breakfast scored 17.5% higher on math tests on average than those who did not. With 14% of American households ‘food insecure’ at some point in 2014, it is critical to the health of our nation that Congress reauthorize, and continue to invest in, nutritional assistance programs.
As we know, families who use nutrition assistance programs are the real experts on the importance of these vital programs. Their stories help urge Congress to continue to invest in these programs and are very compelling for lawmakers. To see more of their stories, visit this booklet put together by the Center for American Progress. To share your own story, visit TalkPoverty’s Story Network. Lastly, to write to your members of Congress about the importance of these programs, check out FRAC’s Legislative Action Center.
The Center for American Progress has put together a video recap of the campaign. See below for stories of the “Community Voices: Why Nutrition Assistance Matters” contributors and share on Facebook here.