By Khuzema Savai
I have a son who is 8 years old. His health and nourishment are my focus.
Eleven years ago, I joined the United States Navy, completing combat tours in Iraq as a Corpsman. I received my MBA in 2008 but have found it difficult to find employment suiting my degree. I have dreams of getting my PhD, but right now I’m focusing on making ends meet for my son and me.
When I was on Unemployment, paying the rent, utilities, phone bill, meant what was left was barely enough to support three meals a day for one person. So, I skipped meals to make sure my son had the necessary three meals per day. He needed it more than me. I could survive with one or two meals per day, but he needed three meals daily for his growth, endurance and good health.
I was advised to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP (formerly known as food stamps and known state-wide as CalFresh) is a nutrition assistance program designed to help families and low-income individuals purchase healthy foods. Eligible clients can receive an EBT card (similar to a debit card) that can be used to purchase food at the grocery store and participating farmer’s markets. After my eligibility based on family size and total income was determined, and I received the EBT card, I realized how many Americans struggling like me would benefit from this SNAP Program.
According to SNAP to Health, recent studies show that nation-wide, 76% of SNAP benefits go towards households with children, 11.9% go to households with disabled persons, and 10% go to households with senior citizens. Here in San Diego County, 46% of SNAP recipients are 17 years old or younger, according to the Health and Human Services Agency of San Diego County.
And the USDA reports 44% of all SNAP participants live in a household with at least working member.
In the program, I am able to provide my son with nutritious foods and I do not have to go without meals. This helped me achieve my good health, I’ve found that I am not as sick and as weak as before.
The SNAP Program was initiated by the U.S. Congress to help Americans with low income, to assist them with their food and dietary requirements to prevent starvation and diseases, which sprout from malnourishment. Without this program, those families would skip meals, fall sick and be infinitely more stressed. If our citizens are healthy and have an adequate supply of food to take care of their families, they will lead a healthy and prosperous life. This in-turn, will lead to being more productive and contributing Americans in their respective communities.
Our nation needs SNAP to supplement our country’s food and dietary needs, to make our families healthy and grow as part of this great country. The more united we are as Americans, the stronger America will become. This is the vision our forefathers had for the United States of America.
Please urge Congress not to cut funding for this program. SNAP helps bring Americans closer and makes the USA stronger and united, which was the independence dream of our forefathers, who gave up their lives for liberty, equality and freedom for all and for keeping America United as United States of America (U.S.A.).
Khuzema Savai is a U.S. military veteran, living in Vista with his 8-year old son. In 2008, he completed his MBA and wants to eventually get his PhD. In 1996, Khuzema emigrated to the U.S. from India, joined the United States Navy and served active duty for eleven years, completing combat tours in Iraq as a Corpsman. After he left the military, it’s been difficult for Khuzema to find employment but he works to make ends meet for his son.