Supplementing the Supplement

By Jean Blish Siers *

North Carolina has the fifth highest level of food insecurity in the county. Nearly one in five North Carolina residents lives in a household that cannot consistently put enough nutritious food on the table to feed all members of the home. Homes with children fare even worse. An estimated one-in-four children lives in a food-insecure home.

Sometimes people ask me why Society of St. Andrew needs to take food to people who are already receiving SNAP benefits. Shouldn’t that food go to someone who needs it more?

SNAP, which we used to call Food Stamps, stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. And it’s exactly that: supplemental. It does not come close to paying the cost of a household’s food expenses, particularly if the household wants fresh, nutritious food. To stretch those SNAP dollars, most people end up choosing long-lasting, high-calorie, highly processed foods. With limited money, good food (with the potential to spoil,) is often at the bottom of the shopping list.

Part VIII_Chartbook_SNAP and Hunger in NCThis graphic from the North Carolina Justice Center is a pretty stark reminder of why, even with SNAP benefits, the work of Society of St. Andrew is as important as ever. As the economy continues its slow recovery from post-recession lows, the numbers of our neighbors living in poverty and those who are food insecure have not declined. In many communities, they have actually increased. The rising tide is not lifting all boats.

Your efforts in the fields, and your dollars donated to our ministry, make a huge difference in supplementing the supplement.

* Jean Blish Siers is SoSA’s Charlotte Area Gleaning Coordinator, and a regular contributor to this News & Events blog.