SNAP series | KCUR

SNAP series

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

The two women wheel a grocery cart across the parking lot to a white van, open the door and shove kids’ toys out of the way.

Sandra Viloria and Amy Truckowski are friends and U.S. Army veterans who carpooled to the Leavenworth Mission Food Pantry to stock up on a week’s essentials — canned vegetables, bread, eggs and frozen meat. The food pantry is just a couple miles from Fort Leavenworth, the large U.S. Army installation in northeast Kansas.  

Esther Honig / Harvest Public Media

In the small city of Fort Morgan, Colorado, 33-year-old Verónica delicately stacks cans of food into her mini shopping cart, strolling the narrow aisles of the Rising Up food pantry to gather eggs, milk, apples and an extra-large box of cereal.

Heartland Alliance

It’s a challenge for people with severe mental illnesses to hold down a job or get the medical help they need. And that extends to when they try to alleviate hunger by getting on the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

There’s a Republican-authored proposal in the next farm bill that would require millions more people to work or volunteer in order to receive federal food assistance.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program accounts for most of the spending in the bill, which is up for renewal this year, and provides monthly stipends for more than 40 million low-income Americans to buy food (though in many cases the funds may only cover a couple weeks).

Conservatives argue expanding work requirements will help SNAP recipients find jobs and move off of food assistance. But House Democrats have said the requirements would punish people who struggle to work, and it’s become the central contentious issue in this year’s farm bill debate.

Erica Hunzinger / Harvest Public Media

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the biggest federal program aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty that millions of Americans find themselves in — sometimes for a few months, sometimes for several years.