Mothering Justice is currently working in partnership with MOSES and Michigan United. We decided to collaborate around the effort to save the programs under “Safety Net“. Our predominant focus is securing accessibility to the country’s main anti-hunger effort, also known as the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program”. Under our current administration, the desire to compensate the rich at the expense of the poor, is their main goal. With budget resolutions and executive orders, millions of people are in danger of having their lifelines to basic needs, cut. We believe uplifting those recipients and putting them in the limelight will show elected officials that these tactics are inhumane and unjust. People should ALWAYS come before profit. One of our members has chosen to share her experience.
Amy Goudy is a devoted wife and mother to five children. She’s currently pregnant with her sixth addition. She was born in Detroit and resides there with her family. Her and her husband are raising their children in the house she grew up in. She’s an advocate for quality education, breastfeeding and reproductive rights for women. She took a moment out of her busy schedule, which includes home-schooling her kids, to speak with Mothering Justice.
Amy was asked questions around her experience applying, qualifying and maintaining her SNAP benefits. When she was pregnant with her oldest child, Lauren, her mother suggested she see what’s available to her. “My mom told me to go to Social Services and see what benefits I qualified for like: Women Infants and Children, Medicaid and food stamps.” When her family needs some help maintaining a sense of financial stability, she re-applies for assistance. She’s able to do this because currently, there isn’t a cap on applying and re-qualifying for assistance in Wayne County.
But the steps toward receiving aid seem very daunting and time consuming. “The paperwork isn’t explained, the process is stressful. You don’t get a case worker until you actually qualify. You go to a Family Independence Agency or Department of Health Services office and the paperwork is out on a counter. You pick it up, take it home, try to fill it out and bring it back.” explained Amy. When asked if the application was easy to fill out, she replied “if it was simpler and less invasive, that’d make it more user-friendly. You’re asked your entire life story”. We discussed finding out whether or not your approved, she responded, “I was asked for more documentation. That’s usually what happens. You have to submit copies of your ID, birth certificate, social security card and pay stubs. If you’re pregnant, you have to supply an official letter from your doctor stating that you are with your estimated due date. The entire approval process could take a month. And that’s if you’re working.”
The answer to our next question was shocking. Staying within the current topic, we asked what it’s like for a woman with child. “If you weren’t working, you had to complete a ‘Work First program‘. This had to be done before you got any benefits. And this was still a requirement even if you were pregnant. Unless you were past a certain week AND your doctor, stated in writing, that you couldn’t work. You graduated from the program by finding a job. So, if finding a job took six months, that extended the process.”
As the discussion carried on, Amy added some more insightful tips. “In order to retain your benefits, you had to stay in ‘compliance‘. You would get sent a letter stating your monthly allowance, based on your income and family size. So, if your were categorized as a ‘working family’ of four, your allowance may be $2000. Any income over that, had to be reported within 10 days. Every six months, you had to re-verify your status and submit all that documentation again.” For the record, her household is always a ‘working family’ recipient.
Being made aware of the real threat to SNAP, she remarked “You definitely don’t get enough to feed your whole family for the month. I have to budget like crazy, use tons of coupons and thankfully, I have WIC. But if my family didn’t have food assistance, life would be harder. You may need $800 for the month and the government gives you $400. But, you’ll take what you can get. Something is better than nothing.”
The thought of a family, having to scrap by while living in the “land of plenty” is unsettling. This country is one of the richest in the world but the majority of those riches are being held by the 1%. Amy’s suggestion for making government assistance more accommodating, “our elected officials need to think of recipients as people, base legislation on a ‘family by family situation’. Try to think of households with actual human beings not case numbers.”
Well Amy, we’ll make sure you’re positioned at decision-making tables so you can share this advise directly. One way were making that a reality is by co-hosting an upcoming ‘call-to-action‘. Won’t you join us?
Director of Communications