One Georgia resident said yesterday that their family had no food this Thanksgiving.
- Georgia fell behind with SNAP renewal applications and some households have not received their benefits.
- Today, the state announced it had paid out the pending money, but some Georgians complained payments had not arrived.
- If you can’t afford to buy food, look for emergency help in the form of food pantries or soup kitchens.
Thanksgiving is normally a time for big celebrations and abundance. But spiraling living costs mean it will be difficult for some households to go all out this year. Even more so for certain families in Georgia who, until yesterday, had not received their SNAP benefit payments for weeks or even months.
Georgia’s SNAP backlog
SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) pays food benefits to low-income families and has been a lifeline for some households in recent years. Unfortunately, Georgia’s Department of Human Services (DHS), which administers the state’s SNAP benefits, has had trouble managing the volume of renewal applications.
As a result, as of yesterday some families still had not received their money. One Georgian wrote on the DHS facebook page, that she’d tried calling but hadn’t received any information about her renewal. “I have little food,” she said. “Thanksgiving will not be celebrated on Thursday for my family.”
A DHS spokesperson blamed inflation and workforce shortages. The state has been scrambling to ensure families receive money today so they don’t have to go hungry on Thanksgiving. Last week the government approved a waiver that meant it could process applications faster.
At 11:40 a.m. today, the department’s social media feeds told recipients to check their accounts as the benefits had been paid. “SNAP benefits have been deposited for customers with pending renewals from Aug.-Oct. 2022 who completed their paperwork on time,” it said. The message was greeted with thanks from some people while others complained they still had not received their money.
What to do if you’re struggling to put food on the table
Not being able to buy food or cover your bills is difficult at the best of times. All the more so during times like Thanksgiving when families want to do something special for their loved ones. Here are some possible avenues of support.
Look for a local food pantry or soup kitchen
Food pantries and soup kitchens distribute the food collected at food banks. There’s a lot of demand for food pantry services right now, so show up as early as you can and be patient. Research what’s available in your area, when each place is open, and how it works. Some food pantries may ask for proof of ID, but you’re unlikely to have to provide proof of income.
According to Feeding America, over 53 million people got help from food pantries in 2021 and the charity is leading a drive to help those in need during the holiday season. Search online for specific Thanksgiving or Christmas focused food programs.
Call 2-1-1 or visit the United Way website
United Way has a huge database of local resources and support services and can help people get help with housing, food, or other essential needs. Its confidential phone line operates 24/7 and the service could be a valuable first step if you don’t know where the next meal is coming from.
See if you can get any breathing room with other bills
It isn’t a long term solution, but if you don’t have money in your bank account to buy food, try to figure out if there are any bills you can push further down the road. For example, if you haven’t already asked for an extension on your utility bill, call the company and see if you can make that payment next month or even agree to some kind of payment plan.
Work out what bills will be due in the coming weeks and prioritize things like housing, food, and healthcare. If you can’t make certain payments, talk to the company and see if you can work with it to find a solution. Missing payments can prove costly and damage your credit score, and those conversations could help you to minimize the damage.
Look for assistance
SNAP is not the only food assistance program out there. If you’re a pregnant woman or have young children, see if you can get any extra help from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). WIC is designed to help low-income women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have children under 5 years old access food and health services.
There’s also the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program which might assist with energy costs. If you’ve recently lost your job, you may qualify for unemployment benefits. There’s also the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which individual states can use to help those in need.
You’re not alone if you are having trouble putting food on the table this Thanksgiving, whether you live in Georgia or elsewhere. Sadly there are no easy answers, but try to resist the temptation to ignore the problem. The more steps you can take to actively manage the situation, the more likely you are to find a way through.
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