...a USDA (the currently shuttered agency that administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
memo obtained by the Crossroads Urban Center in Utah carries in it a
very disturbing warning for the 46+ million Americans currently on
To wit: "understanding the operational issues and constraints
that States face, and in the interest of preserving maximum
flexibility, we are directing States to hold their November issuance
files and delay transmission to State electronic benefit transfer (EBT)
vendors until further notice." In other words, as Fox13News summarizes, "States
across the country are being told to stop the supplemental nutrition
assistance program for the month of November, pending further notice."
I'm concerned about friend and neighbors and the many people in our community who rely on food stamps to feed themselves and their families.
I want to remind everyone to do what we can to buffer the possible effects of a food-stamps shutdown in our community.
Can someone who knows more about this than I do please list the opportunities for this here in Brattleboro?
I imagine the local food banks will see a surge in demand, so donating extra to the food banks starting now would certainly be helpful. This might be a very good time to "clean out the pantry" and decide whether that jar of olives at the back of the shelf might be better enjoyed by others.
Now that the garden harvest season is winding up for many of us, garden surplus can be donated as well. I'm not sure of the specifics of this -- I've heard that the Drop-In Center will take surplus produce; is this true?
There seem to be a fair number of neglected/unharvested fruit trees around town. Are there untapped gleaning opportunities?
I believe there is a farm gleaning program that has been seeking volunteers, but I don't have the details handy. Anyone?
I believe you can call 211 to find out about local resources, but is there an easy-reference list somewhere online for food banks and community meals?
I encourage everyone who is involved in a community group to consider putting on a community dinner or potluck where all are welcome. In some cases, a quiet policy of not turning away anyone who can't pay would be very helpful.
Think about your friends and neighbors who might be struggling; perhaps a stealth drive-by drop-off of produce or baked goods or other foods would be appreciated. Just be considerate and think twice or call first before dropping off that zeppelin-sized zucchini.
Consider hosting a neighborhood potluck or "stone soup" meal (= everyone brings a soup ingredient and/or bread if they can, and everyone shares the soup).
If you can afford to give anonymously to one or more specific families, a grocery gift card is a good way to do that -- the co-op will hold cards at the counter and inform the recipient by phone without revealing the giver. I would hope Hannafords and Price Chopper might offer the same courtesy.
Imagine what you yourself would find most helpful if you were relying on food stamps to feed yourself and your family, and that benefit suddenly ended.
In what other ways can our community step up to help fill the gap if food stamps are shut down? I'm hoping someone with direct experience with addressing this community issue will chime in with suggestions. What can we all do to help, so that our whole community can be fed and strong?