SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) –Tanisha Williams-Smith, didn’t want to get SNAP benefits, she had to. “It’s been about 2 months. I’ve been out work for about 2 years, so it’s been hard living on one income and it took a while get through the process. It was hard. Finally, thank God, we finally got some relief,” she said.
With her husband only working seasonally she’s supporting a family of four using the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. On average in Massachusetts, a person who receives SNAP benefits gets $132.51 per month for food, which boils down to about $31.50 per week.
It’s why Health & Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz, his wife Kathleen, and their daughter are taking the SNAP challenge.
“We only have one loaf of bread. The wheat bread is twice as much as the white bread, but my mother would’ve been very upset if I’d gone with the white bread,” Polanowicz joked. “He got a recommendation from Governor Patrick’s office to give us a call based of our history, being located in food deserts,” said Chon Tomlin, Save-A-Lot spokesperson.
For a week they can only eat groceries they buy at stores like Springfield’s Save-A-Lot that accept SNAP cards.
No fast food, no going out for drinks, and no freebies.
On Monday the Senate passed a bill that will cut more than $400 million to the SNAP program. Paired with cuts from the Economic Recovery Act, that means families using the program will have to stretch even thinner. “It’s going to be hard, going to have to figure out something to do,” Emily Penalbert shared. “What we’re doing for a week can obviously in no way compare to what people have to do day in, day out, week in, week out but we thought that by doing. Number one, it’ll help provide some perspective on it, and number two, as we’re advocating for these programs and the individuals who are on these programs, I thought it would help me,” Polanowicz added.
It gives people like Tanisha a little piece of mind. “It’s hard when you feel like you’re fighting a battle by yourself, but it feels good to know that someone is stepping up to the plate,” she smiled.
Polanowicz will start the snap challenge on Thursday, tweeting it every step of the way.
SNAP funding falls under the Farm Bill that the House will vote on later this month.
Congressman James McGovern & Interim DTA Commissioner Stacey Monahan are also participating.
The challenge goes until June 19th.