Why SNAP Matters: Mary Ann's Story


December 13, 2019 By: Tina Mortimer Category: Hunger Stories

Mary Ann would do anything for her two adopted boys, Adam and Jacob, including go without the medication she needs to treat her diabetes and arthritis so they can eat three healthy meals a day.   

The 62-year-old former teacher and mother of four has struggled to make ends meet since health problems forced her into early retirement. Still, with the help of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps), she has never had to go without food for her boys.

Mary Ann received SNAP assistance through Second Harvest Heartland. Snap Outreach Specialist, Tina England helped Mary Ann find food assistance and other resources she needed to ensure she and her family didn’t miss a meal. 

“With the help of SNAP, we had enough to eat and I could pay my utilities and save for taxes on my home,” Mary Ann explained. “It also gave me the opportunity to pay for school supplies and buy better quality foods.”

Mary Ann’s prescriptions cost more than $1,000 a month. That expense, combined with mortgage payments, utility bills and taxes, mean even with her disability insurance, there’s little money left over at the end of every month for food and other necessities. 

“I do the best I can with what I’ve got,” she said. “I go to my local food pantry once a month. My church has a small pantry and I also get a senior box [of food]. I'm out of meat, so I've been cooking with other proteins, like cheese and pinto beans.”

Feeding Adam and Jacob a healthy diet is important to Mary Ann.

“I hide vegetables in food, and they clean their plates,” she said. “I’m so lucky—my boys will eat anything and everything.”

Despite her struggles, Mary Ann feels lucky that she can still provide healthy food to her boys with the help of SNAP.


Nationwide, 3 million people, including more than 500,000 Minnesotans like Mary Ann, rely on SNAP for much-needed food assistance benefits. Every meal provided by the emergency food system is matched by nine meals provided through SNAP. Second Harvest Heartland works with organizations and individuals to raise awareness about the availability of SNAP benefits, assist with SNAP screening and SNAP applications (with bilingual assistance); and post-application follow-up with counties.

We know that SNAP works and it’s helping feed hundreds of thousands working families, kids and seniors in Minnesota. Yet, the current administration continues to roll out rules and changes to restrict eligibility and reduce SNAP benefits for struggling families. Together, these changes threaten a safety net program that hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans rely on to lead healthy, productive lives.

Hunger Takes. You Can Give.

As you prepare to celebrate the holidays, remember that not every family can afford to put food on the table this holiday season. Please give your time and your voice to those who are less fortunate. And if you’re able, consider giving a donation to Second Harvest Heartland.

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