Cuts to food stamp assistance went into effect last Friday, with most families absorbing a rollback of about five percent in their food budgets. But somehow, one working single mom with four kids got clobbered with a cut of 96.8 percent.
Sara Grier of Charlotte, N.C., who works a 30-hour per week job at $11/hour, in addition to raising her four children by herself, had been receiving $500 each month in food benefits, already a tight meal budget for a family of five. Starting this month, her total benefits come to a next-to-nothing $16, according to a report on WCNC TV in Charlotte.
“At this point, I don’t know what we're going to do,” Grier told the TV station. She has started feeding her kids Ramen noodles, normally a dorm-room staple of struggling college kids. “In a house for a single mom, grocery money is also the light bill, it’s the rent, it’s gas so they can get to games.”
Grier says she has always shopped as economically as possible, buying on-sale meats from Food Lion and divvying up bags of chicken nuggets among the kids.
“With my kids, they know what’s going on with Mommy. They notice a difference from us going to the grocery store,” Grier said.
The federal poverty level for a family of five is $27,570 per year, with some critics contending that level is too low by a significant amount. Grier’s income is $17,000.
Meanwhile, as University of Michigan Professor and political commentator Juan Cole points out, development of the F-35 fighter jet which has already run 70 percent over budget and is considered by most military experts to be completely unnecessary, will cost $9 billion this year alone, and almost $400 billion in total.
“Canceling it would allow you to put back the $5 billion for food stamps for at least 80 years and probably more, since there will be more cost over-runs,” says Cole.
According to the WCNC report, a representative for the state of North Carolina was “shocked” when told of the extreme cut inflicted on Grier’s family. The station is now pursuing Mecklenburg County officials to find out why her family was hit much more severely than average.