As the recession drags on, more and more people are finding themselves in a situation where their savings are depleted and their situation is getting desperate. At times like this, even putting food on the table becomes a struggle. Here are some things you can do to keep your family fed, even if you’ve been out of work for months and you’ve got no money left to buy food.

Government Assistance

A lot of people hesitate to apply for government assistance. It’s a matter of pride or principles for some people. Depending on your income and the state you live in, you could very well get enough assistance to buy all the food you need to live. When you’re working, you pay taxes to fund these programs, so don’t feel bad about taking advantage of them when you need them.

  • SNAP: SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It is more commonly referred to as “food stamps.” Instead of stamps, most states issue a card that looks like a debit card. Your card is loaded with funds once per month, and it runs just like a debit card except that it can’t be used to buy non-food items. You’ll have to pay the non-food portion of your purchase using another payment method.
  • WIC: This program is for pregnant women, infants, and children under five. It provides specific foods to help ensure that babies and young children get the nutrition they need. Some of the foods provided are milk, cereal, peanut butter, fruit juice, fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, baby food, and infant formula. The actual foods received depend on the age of the recipient, the state you live in, and other factors. Some states issue coupons that can be redeemed in the grocery store, while others have specific locations you can go to pick up your food once each month.

Community Programs

Many communities have food programs that are operated by churches and charities. These programs vary widely from one location to another, but mainly consist of the following:

  • Soup Kitchens: Soup kitchens are places where homeless and low-income individuals can go to get a hot meal. Most soup kitchens are located in metropolitan areas where there is a large number of people who are homeless or poverty-stricken.
  • Food Pantries: Food pantries are places that collect donations of food from the community and distribute it to the needy. These organizations usually have income guidelines, and you will probably have to prove your income to get assistance from them.
  • Food Distributions: In some areas, there are food distributions, usually sponsored by churches or charities. A refrigerated truck full of food is brought in at the appointed time, and you can stand in line to get your allotment from the truck. You probably won’t have to prove your income, but you should call ahead to check. Make sure you bring boxes for the food, and if possible, a wagon or cart.

Other Sources of Assistance

After making use of the resources available through government and community programs, make sure you let your church know that you need money for food. Some churches are really good about helping those in need, while others provide little or no help at all. Friends and family members are often willing to help as well, but they may not realize how dire your situation is if you don’t tell them. You won’t know if you don’t ask.

About the author: Bethanny Parker writes about financial matters such as budgeting, investing, credit, and insurance for The Credit Courier. Recent articles cover topics such as why car insurance companies check credit, what information is included in your credit report, and how to get business credit cards without personal guarantees.

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