What to Do If You Can’t Afford Food

As the pandemic continues to affect the country, including nearly 900,000 jobless claims , families continue to struggle to make ends meet. For many Americans, this can be a painful problem of not being able to afford food.

The latest poll by the US Census Bureau with data from August 19 to August 31 showed that about 10% of Americans, or 22.3 million people, sometimes or often do not have enough food. That’s more than double the number of people who reported food shortages in 2019, according to a recent USDA report . While these numbers do not offer an accurate comparison, one thing is clear: hunger is an increasingly serious problem. If you can’t put food on the table, these are some of the best options for your family.

Apply for SNAP

Start by applying for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) through your state website . Depending on the size of your household, you may be eligible based on your state’s gross and net income thresholds , which can be less than $ 27,732 (gross) and $ 21,336 (net) per year for a family of three.

Once you become eligible, you will receive a Certification Period Notice telling you how long you can receive benefits. You may need to recertify to keep getting SNAP.

Find out if you are eligible for WIC

Another program to consider is the Special Complementary Feeding Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which Congress funds annually through state agencies.

In order to qualify, you must meet four levels of criteria — categorical, residential, income, and nutritional risk — and you can see the breaking down of each one here . The income thresholds for WIC benefits are slightly higher, currently $ 37,296 per year for a family of three.

You can also find out if you are eligible by using the WIC prequalification tool and then make an appointment with your local office.

Take advantage of free lunches

While Congress may be struggling to pass the next stimulus package, the USDA has extended the free summer lunch program until the end of 2020. This free program allows students to receive free nutritious meals even as schools move to distance learning.

Look for local food pantries

Even if you are not eligible for SNAP or WIC benefits, you can explore local grocery pantry options through Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger organization. You can find your local food bank using the organization’s online search tool .

If Feeding America is suffering a failure , try looking for help at the local level through HomelessShelterDirectory.org , FoodPantries.org , FreeFood.org or AmpleHarvest.org . You can also contact local religious groups if there are no grocery stores nearby.

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