The SNAP Alumni project champions successful Americans — citizens who once received food stamps and are now leaders in the arts, government, business, sports and education. With a temporary lift from this government program that continues to help feed millions of Americans every day, these people have persevered to accomplish great things. Now they make America stronger every day. Read their stories; tell us yours.
Editor in Chief of Mamiverse and author 17 Spanish speaking books. Sarasota, FL.
“I’m not embarrassed to have been on Food Stamps during one of the toughest times in my life. I had to feed my young kids after a divorce and during unemployment, when the recession was in full swing. That helped me have the energy and the mindset to forge ahead and get back on my feet. Eventually, with hard work and determination I reinvented myself and achieved greater professional and personal success than ever before. And I´m not done yet!”
Musician. Los Angeles, CA
"Well, food stamps enabled my mom and I to eat without having to ask for hand-outs. There were times when I was growing up when we literally didn't have $10 to our name, so food stamps kept us fed when we were completely broke.”
Rep. Barbara Lee
Congresswoman. Oakland, CA.
“As a college student and a young single mother of two boys, I relied on foods stamps to provide for my family while I struggled to make a better life for my children. Food Stamps were the bridge over troubled water that allowed me to become a business owner, congressional staffer, a California legislator and now a member of Congress. This why I will continue to fight to preserve this critical lifeline for those striving to be in the middle class and work to protect the American dream for all.”
Former Colorado Governor, Director of Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado University. Fort Collins, CO.
"I was raised as one of twelve children on a small family farm in Colorado. When my father left our family, I was 13 years old. My mother went on food stamps for a year, until she found work as a bookkeeper. Those food stamps were a lifeline for us. I do now know what we would have done otherwise."
2013 Knight-Wallace Fellow and author of The American Way of Eating
“Food stamps gave me hope: That I was going to get through that rough patch; that it was, in fact, a rough patch and not the ret of my life; that even if I was ashamed to ask for help, at least someone -even the government-could provide when I did. In a way, food stamps are like Kick-starter for poor people; they provide proof that you, and your health are worth something. Healthy food was the most important thing I got from SNAP, but the validation was a close second.”
Dr. Trish Henley
Professor of English Literature at University of Cincinnati. Cincinnati, OH.
“I went on food assistance in 1994. As a single mother of 2, I realized the only way out of the cycle of generational poverty into which I had been born was to go college. At the age of 25, I began my B.A. in English literature. Like most people on assistance, I worked the equivalent of full time hours, but even though I worked three part time jobs, I would not have been able to get through my undergraduate degree without food assistance. After I finished my B.A., I went on for my Master’s degree, and then my Ph.D. and am now a tenure-track professor of Early Modern Lit. And Culture at the University of Cincinnati. Even with the help I received from family and friends, even with the encouragement and the examples provided by my professors, I would never have been able to get through my bachelor’s degree and off of minimum wage without food assistance. I am eternally grateful for our country’s food assistance and aid programs.”
Executive Director of San Diego Hunger Coalition. San Diego, CA.
“I didn't go hungry as a child thanks to SNAP. I was able to have food to eat so I could be healthy and do well in school. I recently became the Executive Director of the San Diego Hunger Coalition where I have the chance to pay forward the help my family received. Being poor doesn't mean someone must be hungry, and SNAP is a vital and irreplaceable part of protecting people of all ages against hunger.”
Former Attorney and Landscape Designer. Boston.
“I was a successful attorney for nearly 30 years, able to provide my daughter with a better life and a college education. I know I would not have been able to accomplish these things without the food assistance I received.”
General Manager TakePart. Los Angeles, CA.
"I don’t remember being hungry as a kid or the lack of funds impeding my health, keeping me from excelling in school, and ultimately, graduating magna cum laude from an Ivy League. That's because of SNAP. Isn't that a GOOD thing? "
Program Associate Institute of Agricultural and Trade Policy. Minneapolis, MN.
LaDonna Redmond joined the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in 2011 as the Senior Program Associate in Food and Justice. A long-time community activist, she has successfully worked to get Chicago Public Schools to evaluate junk food, launched urban agriculture projects, started a community grocery store, and worked on federal farm policy to expand access to healthy food in low-income communities. In 2009, she was one of 25 citizen and business leaders named a Responsibility Pioneer by Time Magazine. In 2007, she was awarded a Green For All Fellowship. LaDonna was also a 2003-2005 IATP Food and Society Fellow. Redmond is a frequently invited speaker, and currently hosts the weekly Monday evening radio program “It’s Your Health” on 89.9 KMOJ, The People’s Station. LaDonna attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. LaDonna attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
Educator/ featured in A Place At The Table as Rosie's teacher. Collbran, CO.
“Food Stamps and Public Assistance contributed to my success because it taught me the importance of decision-making and how to work hard to overcome obstacles. While on public assistance I experienced feelings of being inferior to others and at the same time, I experienced an internal motivation to do better in my adult life as a result of understanding what it meant to struggle and be judged. The decision-making came from watching my mom figure out how to make what had been provided for us, last. Adversity creates strength and thanks to public assistance, I was able to have my basic needs met while I dreamed of becoming something greater and put in the hours needed to pursue my purpose here on Earth; making a difference in the lives of children so that they, too, can rise above life's many challenges and give back themselves.”
Security Architect with IBM and DC Divas and Team USA Running Back. Glen Burnie, MD.
"As a teen mom, having my son at the age of 18 during my first semester in college, I had no idea how to juggle being a full-time mom, a full-time student, and working enough hours to take care of all the needs of my child. The assistance of foodstamps and SNAP benefits allowed me to put my son in daycare centers while I attended school, feed my son and provide a roof over our heads since my hours of working were limited. I always tell people that whatever it is that your heart desires in life, you CAN and will get it. It's not going to be easy, but when there's a will there's a way. As long as you have faith and God on your side anything is possible. My number one priority as a single mom is to show my son that he needs to strive for more in life, more than high school, and these benefits allowed me to do just that. I was able to stay in school after having my son, and continued on straight through graduation in 2003 with a BS degree in Computer Science. This educational foundation has allowed me to work for wonderful companies such as my present company IBM. In Dec. 2010, I earned my Master's Degree in Information Assurance, becoming the first person in my family to do so! I am currently gold medalist for Team USA women's national football team and consider myself as successful, but if it were not for receiving the foodstamps and SNAP benefits starting out, I wouldn't have achieved any of my accomplishments or been able to give my son the life he deserves."
2012 Eisenhower Fellow and Tax Attorney. Philadelphia, PA.
"By providing welfare and food stamps when I was a child, I believe the taxpayers were investing in my future. I believe I turned out to be a good investment."
Sen. Patty Murray
Senator, Bothell, WA.
“When my father was diagnosed with MS and to stop working, it was food stamps that helped my family keep our heads above the water and put food on the table while my mom looked for work. This critical government support was there for my family and for millions of families just like ours when we needed it most, and I am proud to fight.”
Center for WNBA's Chicago Sky, Chicago, IL.
"My mom did everything she could to raise my brother, sister and I, but sometimes there wasn't enough money to go around.The free and reduced lunch programs at my school made sure that my siblings and I had a nutritious meal that my mom could not always afford herself, and gave me the energy I needed to learn in school and participate in sports!"
Human Rights Advocate and Senior Partner at ChangeLab. Seattle.
“I was once a food stamps worker, so when I needed help, applying for food stamps was a no-brainer. It helps hungry people and is a great investment in our food economy, allowing recipients to participate as consumers while feeding their families. I was and am a human rights advocate. At the time, I was organizing people to oppose racial violence in a city where hate crime statistics were soaring. The work paid very little, but I could make ends meet because of food stamps. I'm now more than 30 years into a career in human rights. It's a career I built through experience, without the benefit of a college degree. I was able to gain that experience in no small part because of the help I received from food stamps. Over the years I've been the Executive Director of two philanthropic foundations, and a community organizer in communities as diverse as rural Appalachia and urban Washington, D.C. Today, I'm a Senior Partner in a racial justice institute called ChangeLab and a grateful food stamps alum.”