I met a single mother in Jackson Heights back in 2008, and I encouraged her to apply for SNAP because she was eligible. She worked in a supermarket bagging groceries and her earnings were the tips that shoppers left, which were about $150 weekly. She kept telling me that she was doing okay with her son.

In October of 2009 I saw her again at the prescreening I held at the school her son attended. I asked her how she was doing and she said she was not doing well because she was struggling to pay for her expenses and for food. I told her again to apply for SNAP and she said that she did not want to because everyone was telling her not to do it, and that it was not good to receive anything from the government. She was not going to apply.

Then her son arrived. He had a bag in his hand and told his mother that he had saved his school lunch to eat for dinner. He had also asked one of his friends for his uneaten sandwich so he could give it to his mother. I immediately told the mother that she should not be going through this. She started to cry and hugged her son and told him, “thank you.” The next day she saw me walking and she asked me to please help her apply for SNAP, saying that she would do anything for her son.

In November of 2009 I went with her to apply and she received SNAP benefits for $200.00 each month. She was so happy. Recently, her son called me to thank me and to inform me that he no longer has to bring his school lunch home for dinner and that he can now eat well every night and every day. The client has said thanked me as well, and she told me if I had not encouraged her she would not have applied.

Her son had a bag in his hand and told his mother that he had saved his school lunch to eat for dinner. He had also asked one of his friends for his uneaten sandwich so he could give it to his mother.

JOHANNA ARIAS, NOEP COORDINATOR, QUEENS LEGAL SERVICES CORPORATION