Family shopping
A family shopping. Courtesy USDA

[symple_heading style=”” title=”By Khuzema Savai” type=”h3″ font_size=”” text_align=”left” margin_top=”30″ margin_bottom=”30″ color=”undefined” icon_left=”” icon_right=””]

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.

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When I was on unemployment assistance, paying the rent, utilities and phone bill meant that 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 — formerly called 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 electronic benefit transfer card similar to a debit card that can be used to purchase food at the grocery stores 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.

Khuzema Savai
Khuzema Savai

According to the SNAP to Health website, recent studies show that nationwide 76 percent of SNAP benefits go towards households with children, 12 percent go to households with disabled persons, and 10 percent go to households with senior citizens. Here in San Diego County, 46 percent of SNAP recipients are 17 years old or younger, according to the Health and Human Services Agency of San Diego County.

And the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports 44 percent of all SNAP participants live in a household with at least one working member.

Because of the program, I am able to provide my son with nutritious foods and do not have to go without meals myself. This helped me achieve better health; I am not as sick and as weak as before.

The SNAP Program was initiated by Congress to help Americans with low income, to assist them with their food and dietary requirements and prevent starvation and disease. 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 will lead to being more productive and contributing more to 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 more united.

Khuzema Savai is a veteran living in Vista with his 8-year old son. He emigrated to the United States from India in 1996 and joined the Navy, serving for 11 years. In 2008 he completed his MBA and wants to eventually earn his Ph.D.