Mother struggles to feed family with minimal SNAP assistance

Mother struggles to feed family with minimal SNAP assistance

Photo credit/ Elysabethe Brown

Alicia Quetel looks through foods on the shelves of Shop Rite in Easton. She often decides against buying fruit and healthier options due to the higher prices, which she is unable to afford.

Elysabethe Brown, News Editor

Alicia Quetel, a day care worker from Easton, PA, walks into her local Shop Rite after dropping off her children at school. She smiles as she grabs a nearby cart.

“Today we just need a few things,” she said.

Quetel is a mother of three boys and a guardian to her niece. Together with her husband
she struggles to feed her family.

“We just started receiving food stamps. They kept telling me I made too much money,” she said.

Because Governor Tom Corbett has decided to reinstate an asset test many people will face a problem similar to The Quetels. According to pittsburghfoodbank.org an estimated estimated 36,000 Pennsylvanians are expected to be denied food assistance after May 1, 2012. According to The Associated Press the test will disqualify those applying for food stamps who own more than $5,500 in assets and $9,000 on households who have a disabled or elderly person. “By the end of the month I’m spending money that I just don’t have,” she said.

The Quetel household receives $100 a month from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. The average amount a U.S. household receives is $277.27.

Mrs. Quetel explained that because both she and her husband work, she does not receive as much money as other families. “It’s just not fair,” she said. “The government needs to look into that stuff. Right now we struggle to make ends meet. Some people get $500 a month and don’t even use it all.”

Mrs. Quetel scans the aisles, carefully comparing prices between items. She explained that her children’s school does not offer any kind of lunch or meal assistance program for the children.

“It takes the pressure off when they have special days where the kids can pre-order pizza or hotdogs for $2,” she said. “But that is only two days a week.”

She picks up small bags of chips and lunch meat. “Today is Wednesday so I have to buy the smaller packs since they only have two more days of school. I try to buy the family size, but it goes bad so quickly. Sometimes I have to buy smaller packs of food, which costs more.”

Mrs. Quetel picks up a bag of oranges, which she explained is one of the cheapest fruits, and heads to the checkout line. She said that she becomes so frustrated with the SNAP program because she sees fraud going on which “ruins it for people like my family who actually need it.”

After paying a total of $89 for her groceries, she heads out of the store smiling.

“I had to use some of the benefits and some money on my credit card, but we made it,” said Quetel.

Walking to the exit, Mrs. Quetel revealed that she once bought $80 worth of food stamps for $60 from another woman. This is not an unusual occurrence. According to CNS News, 46.3 million recipients of food stamps have traded their food stamps for
cash.

Mrs. Quetel said that she cannot be sad about where she is in her life right now. “We all make choices and you can’t blame others for those choices. You have to do what is right for you.”