My name is Deanne Austin and I’m a former safety net benefactor. I received SNAP benefits as an undergraduate at Michigan State University. My mother was disabled and unable to work. Therefore I was forced to accept enormous amounts of student loans on top of work study to make ends meet. I was only allowed to work a set number of hours as a student employee. I depended on food assistance because I could barely afford all my expenses as a college student. I knew that I was working to get my degree and that this was a temporary situation. SNAP allowed me to focus on my education without worrying about how I was going to afford my next meal.
Currently, college students can’t receive benefits unless they’re working at least 20 hours per week. Most often than not, this is unattainable because of your course work and grade point average requirements. Especially, if you’re attending school through a scholarship award. Young adults should be able to pursue a higher education so that they can achieve a level of financial stability sooner rather than later. Everyone has the RIGHT to eat AND better themselves. How successful can you be on an empty stomach?
Since I have experience with food assistance helping me stay well, I decided to share my story. I recently met with Congresswoman Debbie Dingell to discuss how we can come together and protect safety net programs like SNAP. Thankfully, she understands that people have the right to eat, it’s not an earned privilege. She’s going to continue working to make sure her fellow elected officials come to the same agreement.
Why do we have to fight so hard to make sure people are fed? SNAP is this country’s only anti-hunger program. Join Mothering Justice, MOSES and MI United in the battle to keep assistance programs intact.