Note: I am publishing this with the permission of the author, who wished to remain anonymous. I have not edited this at all. I share this in the hopes that this message will reach a wider audience and more people will speak out about the importance of public assistance. If we don’t stand up for these programs, we will lose them.
Dear Representative Murphy:
I am a short-time constituent of Greenville, NC and I am writing to express my full concern about the budget cut, that would cause many Greenville residents to lose their SNAP benefits. I am not a native of Pitt County, but instead from Gates County; but in my short ten months of being here, I am aware of many the needs within the community.
I understand that Congress felt that this budget cut was necessary, but I am very concerned. I am a Social Worker, and have been so since graduating in 2014. I have worked as an Income Maintenance worker serving Hertford County. I have also served as a foster care Social Worker for Pitt County Government. I have worked on the front line with many families, here in Pitt County and other counties as well. I would like to inform you just how such a cut, could be detrimental to a family.
Many families who are involved with Child Welfare, many times they have a mental illness of some sort, drug addiction or experienced some type of trauma. When they become involved with Child Welfare, the Social Workers are placed there to assist them with providing a safe and healthy environment for the children. The parents often lack an education, therefore, which hinders their ability obtain adequate employment. Consequently, they rely on the extra assistance provided by public assistance within the community. As a Social Worker, it is our responsibility to assist with linking them to the needed resources within the community. Cutting these resources within the community, only hurts these families, and most importantly our children. If such a budget cut should occur, why aren’t other resources put into place, such as more employment opportunities, or employment training?
When many families SNAP benefits are cut, the number of Child Welfare cases are likely to increase, because the families are unable to adequately provide food for their children. Once this occurs, then the Social Worker’s caseload, will increase, to an amount that could cause a burn out. This could very well occur, because the county would lack the adequate funds to hire more Social Workers for this. As someone who has worked on the front line, why make the children of Pitt County suffer? Why take a chance, of having more Child Welfare cases? This change can easily cause a working family, to be in a place to question whether to pay their rent or buy food for their children. No family should have to experience such a dilemma. No family should have to risk being involved with Child Welfare, due to neglect, caused by not being able to feed their children; that was due to their SNAP benefits being cut.
Beyond many years of Social Work experience, I was once one of these families who received SNAP benefits. Upon entering my Junior year of College, I became pregnant, and unfortunately became homeless. I was an honor student, who once received a plaque for having the highest GPA in my college class. Not only that but I stayed on the Deans and Chancellors list. Therefore, to find out I was pregnant, it impacted me greatly, and it negatively affected my grades too. I was homeless my entire Junior year of college, and due to my school schedule I was unable to find a job that would work with my schedule. I only ate one meal a day; that meal consisted of a double cheeseburger from McDonalds, not the full meal. I lived off my $800.00 credit card; that is the only way I could get gas and food. During my pregnancy, I maxed my credit card, but finally landed a job, that would work with my schedule. After having my child, I was then able to receive SNAP benefits, but couldn’t receive Section 8 housing. Fortunately, my Senior year of college I landed a job working at the hospital at night in Franklin, VA, and rented a home without any Section 8 assistance. During this time, I too was receiving SNAP benefits, daycare assistance and Medicaid. I couldn’t have imagined having my SNAP benefits cut during that time. My child had very bad acid reflux, and the formula she needed, WIC was unable to provide me with. Consequently, the AR Enfamil formula I needed for my child, I had to purchase through my SNAP benefits. If it wasn’t for my SNAP benefits, I know I wouldn’t have been able to buy a $25.00 bottle of formula every few days, along with paying $400.00 in rent too. I commuted 30 minutes to work daily and an hour per day to school. My finances as a single parent who was a college student were very limited. With the help, I received I still graduated on time, with a 3.2 GPA, with my Bachelors of Social Work Degree.
After graduating, I started working at Hertford County Department of Social Services. This employment opportunity helped me to progress in my career and life. Now, here I stand graduating with my Masters of Social Work degree, well employed, and preparing for my LSAT, to prepare to go to Law School, for my Juris Doctorate Degree. If it were not for the SNAP benefits, I would not have been able to stand here where I am now today. I would have probably dropped out of school to work full time, and struggle day in and day out to provide for my child. How many other families could have my story? If you cut their SNAP benefits, how many families futures are you cutting?
I urge you not to cut the SNAP benefits of the Pitt County residents. Let’s not forget that our children are our future, and it takes a village to raise a child.
I am looking forward to your response!
[A Concerned Constituent]