Stories of Resilience: Fighting Stigma and Protecting SNAP

For Immediate Release
Monday, June 11, 2018

Scott Wagner:
Cell: 937-684-2649
Helen Strom:
Cell: 301-332-9697

Stories of Resilience highlights stories of Americans threatened by proposed cuts to food stamps, Medicaid, and other safety net programs To see our full array of videos and photos, go to June 11, 2018 (New York, NY) – 41 million people struggle with hunger in the United States and 1 in 8 people across the U.S. rely on food stamps (SNAP) to survive. On June 22nd, the House is scheduled to vote on a new Farm Bill that is that would take away food stamps (SNAP) from more than 2 million struggling Americans, including children, seniors, and people with disabilities. This threat follows months of similar attacks on the safety net, including President Trump’s executive order in April calling for government to restrict access and eligibility for all safety net programs and the imposition of Medicaid work requirements in many states.

In response to these attacks, the Urban Justice Center’s Safety Net Project launched Stories of Resilience, a video and photo campaign that highlights stories of Americans threatened by Republicans’ proposed cuts to food stamps, Medicaid, and other safety net programs. Stories of Resilience shares stories (in both video and photo format) of those who applied for SNAP and other government benefits during difficult times in their lives. The content illustrates the sharp contrast between commonly perpetuated myths associated with poverty and government benefits and the reality of those experiences. These videos are of critical importance because, as Helen Strom, co-executive producer of the campaign, explains, “these stories show us that those receiving government benefits are just like you and me—they are people trying to do their best who have fallen on hard times.” In the words of Brenda Riley: “My first experience with Public Assistance came after the loss of my significant other to cancer. We spent thousands on drugs to try to save his life, and before we knew it most of the money was gone. I used to think that I would never be on public assistance, so when I found myself there, first I was ashamed. Then I was hurt. And then it was ‘I can’t believe how I’m being treated.’ People on food stamps receive just enough to feed themselves, and some weeks you have to go without food.”

Other featured stories include: - Philip, a college graduate suffering from unemployment (receives SNAP and Medicaid) - Anthony, a veteran, single dad, and professional chef that needed help after losing his wife (Receives SNAP, Medicaid, and Public Assistance) - Elizabeth, a mother of 3 whose husband works full-time but does not have sufficient income to pay rent and put food on the table (receives SNAP) - Sarah, in recovery from mental illness and addiction and going back to school to finish her college degree (receives disability and Medicare) The stories demonstrate that people receiving public assistance come from an array of different backgrounds that cross racial, socioeconomic, educational and age categories. “Our hope,” says the Director of the Safety Net Project, Scott Wagner, “is that these videos will both combat common misconceptions and inspire greater compassion and understanding for individuals who need and rely on such benefits.”

Stories of Resilience has been featured in the Amsterdam News and the City Limits Op-Ed, detailing the campaign.