Food insecurity isn’t an incidence of isolating poverty; it’s dynamic and has a range of forms centered around the simple worry of affording a meal. This impacts many individuals, including students. Student loan debt, unpaid or below-living-wage stipend internships and the inability to work during an internship can put a strain on financial well-being. The USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, attempts to alleviate some financial barriers. Here are reasons why receiving SNAP benefits has helped me become a better dietetic intern.
- Lessening Financial Burden: SNAP offers assistance to eligible, low-income individuals through a LINK/SNAP card accepted at grocery stores and retailers. Receiving SNAP benefits has allowed me to purchase fresh produce, whole grains, dairy and protein foods each month, which benefit my physical and mental health.
- Sticking to a Budget: I’ve always been frugal, but SNAP keeps me accountable to a fixed, monthly allowance for groceries. It also enables recipients to explore different food venues, such as farmers markets, which match the amount of money I spend with additional LINK/SNAP dollars. SNAP can keep you on a budget while also inspiring you to search for additional programs and discounts.
- Experiencing the Application Process: Applying for SNAP poses challenges that I had not realized before going through it firsthand. For instance, standing in line for hours, interviewing during the work day, and waiting for federal processing can become insurmountable for many individuals. It’s important for a dietitian when counseling patients who must undergo this process to provide empathetic, practical advice.
Experiencing programs you recommend will enhance your ability to provide quality care. Remember to follow your own advice and utilize available resources around you!