You never thought you’d get punished for hard work. But that’s what it can feel like if you fall off the welfare cliff. You were ecstatic to get a pay rise or nail that job you really wanted. Then you crash down to earth with an almighty bump when you find out your benefits have been cut. What do you do when you don’t make enough money to survive?
Your TANF goes away, food stamps get cut, and you have to start paying for childcare. If that wasn’t bad enough, you’ve still got rent to cover, repay student loans, and keep your car running. Yeah, you’re making more than you were a few months ago, but you’re not making enough money to survive.
Unfortunately, the “cliff effect” or “benefits cliff” is an all too common problem. Of course, there’s a huge political debate on the minimum wage and welfare trap. But politics aside, that’s not going to put food on your table tomorrow or pay your bills.
This article aims to provide assistance if you’re stuck in the welfare catch-22 where you don’t make enough money to survive, but you make too much for welfare. So, you’re too “rich” to get government benefits but too poor to afford food. It’s a tough spot to be in. Read on to find out what resources are available in your area to help you look after your family.
Making Enough Money to Survive
Stats show that nearly 40 million Americans—12 percent of the population—live in poverty. But if you’re like most people, you want to be self-sufficient and provide well for your family. Unfortunately, being on a low-income or not making ends meet doesn’t have anything to do with your desire to work.
You may have to pay for high medical bills, clear debt, or you can’t find a decent job. It could be that you received a $1 or $2 wage rise, and it was just enough to kick you over the welfare cliff edge. The sudden loss of benefits can leave you scratching your head where to turn to next. First, it’s essential to make sure you’ve explored all the possible government help programs available. Even though you may have lost some benefits, there may be others you’re eligible for that can give you some breathing room in your budget.
Please read this article to find out about many federal or state assistance that is available. But what if you’ve exhausted all the possibilities? You’re still not making enough to get through the month, and you can’t claim welfare.
Resources If You’re Not Making Enough Money to Survive
Here are a few community-based and non-profit organizations that can help if you’re struggling to make ends meet.
Community food banks and pantries
If you have trouble putting food on the table, then food pantries in your local area can be a lifeline. Getting help from food banks isn’t just something for the homeless. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), over 35 percent of low-income households are “food insecure.” Nearly 14 percent of families with children experience food insecurity during the year.
Food banks and food pantries are feeding millions of Americans every year. Even people receiving benefits and who get the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) turn to food pantries for assistance.
Food pantries can provide a wide range of food items such as frozen food, baby formula, bread, fresh fruit and veg, canned goods, and other basic groceries. Some food pantries also stock a limited supply of toiletries, diapers, and clothes.
To find a food bank in your area, visit Feeding America’s website.
Other food assistance programs
Apart from getting food from food pantries, there are several other ways to get reduced or low-cost groceries. Here are a few tips:
- Free coupon websites—Search the internet for free coupon websites. You can print out the coupons to save money when shopping for groceries, pet supplies, beverages, and personal care items.
- Discounted food services—Grocery distribution services such as Gaballi sell discounted boxes of food online. You can get fruit and veg, dry foods, rice, pasta, and baby formula. You can save up to 70 percent on your food bills.
- Salvation army—Regardless of faith, the Salvation Army operates many food pantries. However, you may also be able to get hot meals, toiletries, laundry detergent, and holiday food boxes.
Call United Way at 2-1-1
We’re used to dialing 9-1-1 in an emergency. Well, in a financial crisis, dial 2-1-1.
This helpline center can help you find local community resources when you’re in dire straits. Apart from helping you find the nearest food pantry, the 2-1-1 center can also assist in locating charities that provide counseling services, advice on finances, and debt counseling.
You may also get information on how to find other free resources for low-income families. This could include information about charities who assist with any of the following:
- Assistance in fixing up your home.
- Free gas vouchers to help fill up your car.
- Bus tokens to get you to a job interview.
- Free computers to help find a job or increase your education.
- Clothing closets that provide clothing and winter clothes for free
Faith-based organizations and nonprofits
Many Christian, Jewish, and Islamic charitable organizations offer help and assistance to persons of any faith and non-believers. The Salvation Army is one of the most well-known faith-based organizations that help America’s working poor.
Other charity organizations help low-income families in some of the following ways:
- Focus on healthy eating and exercise by providing food and support.
- Give financial assistance to find affordable housing.
- Provide disaster relief by providing food and rebuilding homes.
- Sponsoring food banks, community farms, and making healthy food accessible and affordable to all.
Final Word: If You’re Not Making Enough Money to Survive, but Making Too Much for Welfare
If you’re stuck in the chasm between the bottom of the welfare cliff and higher earnings, there are many non-governmental resources you can turn to. Food pantries can make sure that you always serve up healthy, nutritious meals for your family. Charities can assist in finding the right help or in providing emergency loans or grants when you need it most.