Food enriches cultures, brings people together, and, most importantly, gives us the strength to live, but what happens when food is financially unattainable? Each day, someone is struggling to make ends meet and goes hungry. Sometimes, programs and organizations provide financial support, but it is scarcely enough to buy anything. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—also known as SNAP or food stamps—is a federal assistance program designed to help low-income Americans purchase food. The Federal Government increased SNAP benefits at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic but recently decreased them, leaving families like my own hungrier than ever. It is therefore in the best interest of the public and government to recognize the impact of the benefit reductions and ultimately restore or increase the assistance given to affected households.

Now, you may be wondering what SNAP benefits are and why their reductions are so harmful. According to the USDA, SNAP provides eligible low-income households with funds to purchase food through an Electronic Benefit or EBT card (“Supplemental”). During the pandemic, Congress responded to the associated economic hardships affecting families by establishing emergency allotments, which increased how much money households could spend on groceries (“Changes”). However, Congress recently passed a law to end emergency allotments, causing SNAP benefits to be reduced after February 2023 (“Changes”). As a result, every household’s monthly benefits were reduced by at least $95.00 (Rosenbaum). The University of Pennsylvania found that SNAP recipients have experienced a 21% increase in food insufficiency, meaning more people suffer from poor-quality diets (HealthDay). Personally, the increased SNAP benefits saved my family during a time when my parents had trouble finding jobs. My siblings and I were constantly worrying about my parents because my father was going through Parkinson’s disease, which limited many of his activities. My mother was going through surgeries to get her kidney stones from malnutrition removed. Our main concerns were rent, medical bills, online classes, and, of course, whether we could afford food for the week. We felt powerless until our SNAP benefits increased. For some months, we felt a great sense of freedom. One of my core memories is finally seeing my parents being able to buy all the food we needed instead of making sacrifices for me and my siblings. Now, we, like many of my friends and neighbors’ families, are in a position where we can no longer afford enough food. Families like ours now need to choose between paying for food or paying bills.

The government must address the consequences of the reduced SNAP benefits. Considering the experience of families like mine, it would be best if the government returned the benefit boosts to SNAP users. Another possible solution to this crisis could be to increase income support programs. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (“TANF”) help low-income families by offering cash to provide for a family’s basic needs (“Policy”). Under this program, the government gives grants to states, which allow them to fund housing, medical care, and work-related programs (“Policy”). Thus, the government could increase the grants given to states, which would alleviate some of the other financial burdens experienced by families struggling to pay all their bills. Investing in these programs would also reduce the cause of many households’ inability to buy food since they may increase employment. No matter what, the Federal Government should step in to solve the problems caused by reductions in post-pandemic food assistance.

Some may argue that increasing assistance programs for food and other services will cause economic problems. They may say that the government should not increase funding for SNAP and other assistance programs because they have to balance these responsibilities with the national budget and federal debt. The Tax Foundation does note that the Federal Government’s debt is at $33 trillion, which may make it necessary to control how much funding is given to assistance and spending programs as the debt rises (“How”).

The claim that assistance programs will only worsen the economy can be challenged by the economic growth observed when SNAP benefits increase. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), for every dollar that is added to SNAP benefits, the US GDP increases by $1.50 in a weak economy (“Policy”). In addition, the CBPP found that SNAP benefit increases help boost economic activity and employment (“Policy”). This goes on to show that boosting benefits for SNAP can help the economy overall as well as low-income households.

Low-income Americans suffer greatly when faced with the challenges of securing necessities such as food. It is not rare for families to go hungry or starve as a result of the failures of the government. The SNAP benefit cut is a crisis brought about by the government’s assumption that most households are financially stable enough not to need extra help. However, this is not the case because even more people are struggling with food insufficiency. While the current federal debt may cause the public and government to be hesitant about bringing back additional assistance to low-income households, increasing SNAP benefits has the potential to improve the economy. Without this extra assistance, families like mine will continue to spend every day anxiously wondering when our next good quality meal will be. So, will you all join me in encouraging Congress members to help us, or will we be left hungry?

Works Cited

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “Policy Basics: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 9 June 2022,

“Changes to SNAP Benefit Amounts – 2023 | Food and Nutrition Service.”, 2023,

HealthDay. “Ost-Pandemic End to Food Assistance Programs Meant 2 Million More Americans Went Hungry.” US News, 14 Aug. 2023,

“How to Rein in the National Debt.” Tax Foundation, 12 Sept. 2023, Accessed 27 Oct. 2023.

“Policy Basics: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities,

Rosenbaum, Dottie, et al. “Temporary Pandemic SNAP Benefits Will End in Remaining 35 States in March 2023 | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 6 Feb. 2023,

“Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) | USDA-FNS.”, 2018,

Written By:

Luisa Orellana-Castillo

Grade 10

Benjamin Banneker HS