Food insecurity is a daily reality for one out of seven households in America. For people who are stretching already limited resources, food-centric holidays can be a stressful time.
No matter how much money you have, everyone wants the chance to provide a nice meal for their family. But, what do people who have a very small budget for food do to make the holidays special?
Many individuals and families are on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Funded by the National Council on Aging, SNAP is the nation’s largest federal nutrition program. Its goal is to improve food security and nutrition among low-income individuals and families. Ten percent of SNAP benefits are used by seniors.
The holidays on SNAP
The holidays can make it difficult for low-income families to celebrate with a large, home-cooked meal. SNAP recipients must balance their regular spending against preparing for a special occasion. This can mean seeking out additional assistance or going without.
In addition to SNAP, people are taking advantage of food banks and church pantries to get food. They may also participate in turkey drives or neighborhood donation programs geared towards helping those in need during the holidays.
Making the tough choices
For many people receiving SNAP benefits, it’s all too common to have to make the tough decisions between food and other necessities during the holiday season. Items that someone might cut out include rent, transportation, or warm clothing. When there are simply not enough resources, something must go.
Food insecurity can be more prevalent during the holiday season. Expenses increase as people try to provide a special occasion for their families on top of other factors that can burn up a budget, such as rising heating costs. Thanksgiving also falls at the end of the month, when benefits tend to wear thin.
Getting creative for a special occasion
You have to be creative when it comes to spending your SNAP benefits. By doing so, you can pull off a nice holiday without having to cut out other necessities.
Look for additional assistance and resources in your community to help you get what you need for the holiday. You can also explore smart ways to spend your SNAP benefits to get the most bang for your buck.
SNAP-Ed provides affordable holiday menus for those preparing for the holidays on food assistance. Thanksgiving recipes include roasted turkey breast, stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetable sides, and pumpkin pie.
If you are a SNAP recipient in charge of the menu this year, use SNAP-Ed as a guide for purchasing all of the ingredients you need without going over budget.
You can learn more about SNAP benefits by contacting the Department of Job and Family Services. If you know a senior who faces food insecurity in Stark, Summit, or Wayne County, they may benefit from nutritious home-delivered meals from VANTAGE’s Meals on Wheels program.
*The information in this article is intended solely to provide general information on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader, who accepts full responsibility for its use. This article should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, medical, or other competent advisors.