Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

The Journey from Federal Safety Net to Trapeze Artist

'IMGP3215' photo (c) 2007, Mark Setchell - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

By Sarah Godfrey

Marketplace has a great story today about a woman who once accessed the federal safety net, specifically SNAP, to stay afloat during a lean period and is now using a safety net of a different sort—she is a trapeze artist.

Mercedes Gallup, a public health nurse at a state college in Southern California, told her story to Marketplace as part of its "Show Us Your Safety Net" series. Gallup talked about using SNAP, then called food stamps, to feed her child, and the stigma attached to pulling them out at the grocery store.

“Back then you held up the line when you were using food stamps,” she remembers.  “They had to check everything and they were paper — it was like a little book of Disneyland cards.

Sometimes, Gallup says she would feel judged. “But I had to feed my kid,” she says. “So I'll hold up the line all day. I was a single mom, I was in nursing school, and had a job. And it just was not enough to cover food.”

Gallup, who used food stamps for three years, said the assistance allowed her to  realize her dream of becoming a nurse. Now, years later, after finishing school and securing a well-paying job, she spends some of her free time flying through the air with the greatest of ease. And, as the piece points out, there is always a net there to catch her, just as there was back when she was a struggling student.

We already know that federal nutrition programs allow people to lift themselves out of poverty and feed their families. Gallup's story may have a particularly cool twist, but it isn't uncommon:  SNAP and other federal nutrition programs offer a lifeline—and a stepping stone—for millions of people.

Contact your member of Congress and tell them to ensure a place at the table for all people by providing adequate funding for programs that address hunger and help lift people out of poverty.

Sarah Godfrey is Bread for the World's associate online editor.


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