About The SNAP Alumni Project
The SNAP Alumni project champions successful Americans who once received food stamps but who are now leaders in their communities in government, business, sports, education & the arts. 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.
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."
Senator PATTY MURRAY of Washington State
"When my father was diagnosed with MS and had 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 millions of families just like ours when we needed it most, and I am proud to fight every day to make sure it is there for struggling families across the country who need that helping hand while they work to get back on their feet."
New York, NY
"I had a single mother, 3 siblings, and in hard times Food Stamps were so helpful. I never felt embarrassed. I was young and I didn't give it a second thought. Not only that — it seemed like everyone else had them too. People of all colors presented them at check out. Mom eventually got on her feet, and didn’t need them anymore."
Former Governor of Colorado Director of Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State 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 not know what we would have done otherwise."
"When I was a kid, my single mom and I were on food stamps for a few years while she struggled to make ends meet as a small business owner with health problems in a weak economy. SNAP helped us survive tough times, and I never forgot the investment our country made in us - as an adult I joined the military to repay that debt. Today, I'm a veteran, author, advocate, and tax-paying citizen who is happy to pay it forward by ensuring today's families can get access to the same safety net that set me on the road to success." Check out Kayla's piece in The Guardian, Food Stamps Helped Me Serve My Country. Don't Cut Them Now.
Congresswoman BARBARA LEE of California
"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, California legislator and now a member of Congress.
This is 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."
Mother-of-four, TV host, fitness & yoga instructor
New Egypt, NJ
"Fewer things have left me feeling more humbled than walking into my county welfare office and applying for food stamps. It was nearly a decade ago, and I was a newly single mother-of-three who was struggling to make ends meet with odd jobs after my job as a real estate agent stopped paying the bills.
New Mexico State Auditor
"My mom did the best she could in providing for me, my brother and sister. Because we lived in poverty, we relied on food stamps to get us through the difficult days. I’m forever grateful for the generosity of this country."
Editor-in-Chief of Mamiverse and author of 17 Spanish-language books
"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!"
CEO, Denver Chamber of Commerce
“My family worked incredibly hard to make ends meet under difficult circumstances. My father had been injured on the job and was retraining for a new line of work, and he and my mother were both working as many jobs as they could to keep their family of three children afloat.
It wasn’t enough to keep us all fed and sheltered, and so for, a time, we were on assistance. I associate that time with two emotions—shame and hope. There is no emotion more devastating than shame and nothing more powerful than hope. It is hope that continues to define me today."
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."
Jennifer speaks out in support of SNAP in "Protect Food Stamps as a Worthy Investment" - featured in The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Security Architect with IBM DC Divas and Team USA, Running Back
Glen Burnie, Maryland
"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 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.
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 SNAP benefits starting out, I wouldn't have achieved any of my accomplishments or been able to give my son the life he deserves."
WNBA, Chicago Sky
"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!"
Educator Featured in A Place at the Table
"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. I could 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."
2012 Eisenhower Fellow and Tax Attorney
"By providing welfare and food stamps to me when I was a child, I believe the taxpayers were investing in my future. I believe I turned out to be a good investment."
EVP, Digital , Participant Media
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?"
Human Rights Advocate Senior Partner, ChangeLab
"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."
LPN, Paralegal, Hunger Survivor and Advocate
"As a single mom, I have always worked full-time and I have always been proud of the fact that I could take care of my son on my own. But when I found myself laid off and needing help, I turned to SNAP. With SNAP, the unemployment went a little further and my son received free breakfast and lunch at school. I was on SNAP for a total of 16 months. I have no idea where we would have been if it were not for SNAP.
I have learned that we have a divine mandate to give people something to eat. Hunger is ground-zero. Hunger affects every aspect of society, every single person, every second of the day and night. It all boils down to and starts with hunger!"
Chief of Staff, Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance
"As a teen mom, I turned to SNAP benefits to help me provide nutritional food to my daughter. Asking for help was not easy for me and I never thought I would be on food stamps. I didn’t want the services, but I needed them."