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baltimoresun.com

Food stamps are not enough

8:15 AM EST, November 7, 2013

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I decided to participate in the Food Stamp Challenge last week to confront Congress' recent benefit reduction, as highlighted in The Sun's recent editorial ("Hunger gets a boost," Oct. 29). As a social worker in D.C., I am acutely aware that food stamps may supplement income but do not provide sufficient benefits for an entire month.

I have met only one recipient who was successfully able to stretch her food stamps each month. She was meticulous in what she bought, where she shopped and how often she went to food banks and churches. I was always impressed with her attention to detail and tried to channel her real-life challenges last week using the amount of money I would get from food stamps in one week. I wanted to see if I could continue some semblance of my healthy diet, but I decided that I would primarily eat PBJ for lunch and rice and beans for dinner.

Though the Food Stamp Challenge was difficult, I kept telling myself that it was only a week. Unfortunately, people on food stamps don't have an end in sight. Their options just became slimmer on Nov. 1 when increases in food stamp benefits from the stimulus bill expired. This cut amounts to 21 fewer meals per month, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At a time when so many families are still struggling, this cut will increase hunger in America.

Meg Van Wyk

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