By Latasha Greer
With the end of the year looming and Congress rushing to get things done, the reality of income-support programs being deeply cut escalates, petrifying me.
In August 2015, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Unfortunately, for myself and a lot of Americans, this means the weekly or monthly chemotherapy sessions or other forms of continual life-saving procedures. These treatments leave us so weak and lifeless even getting up to shower is a hassle, so going to work is completely out of the question. Because of my lack of energy and inability to get myself out of bed, the family’s income became solely dependent on my husband. That means one paycheck for six people.
I found myself applying to every possible income-support program to get my family and I through these rough times. I applied for the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, to be able to keep up with groceries and feeding the family. I was fully aware that the application process is deliberate, so it would take some time. But, mortgages still have their due dates and when bellies are empty there is not much time that can be wasted waiting for a response.
Three months after my application submission, I received my first SNAP voucher of $330 per month, for a family of six. This translates into $1.80 a day for each person in the family, which is not even enough to buy a burger from McDonalds.
There is an extreme disconnect between the Trump Administration, members of Congress and the average American. These members are a part of the highest economic brackets and have no clue what it means to live off $330 a month. I mean, I do not even know how to live with so little. I have always worked and made enough to support myself and my family.
It is not easy to ask for help, especially when there is an overabundance of negative connotations placed on the people who receive money from these income-support programs. My husband and I both have college degrees but are still turning to our government for financial support.
I was extremely hesitant to ask the government for help because I have always “pulled myself up by my bootstraps,” but at this stage in the game, there are no boots for me to pick up.
The Trump Administration is proposing that two-thirds of budget cuts come from low and moderate income programs which they claim will benefit the deficit. In other words, that is taking away $150 billion over the next ten years from individuals and families who desperately need it, and giving tax breaks to the wealthiest who do not. The logic behind this escapes me, and Trump’s administration has yet to give a rational, researched response to their actions.
Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program offers help to around 40 million Americans who are struggling to afford food and evade malnutrition.
We need more funding, not less to be able to get ourselves back on our feet. We need an administration that takes into account the lives of all Americans not only wealthy ones. We need more empathetic case workers to understand the complex lives of those applying for assistance. We definitely need every one to stand up together and tell Trump’s administration and their Congressmen that this is not okay, and we deserve better. We require stronger assistance for better lives.
Latasha Greer is a member of Mothering Justice in Detroit.