The role of the SNAP program isn’t to provide additional money to paid government volunteers; it is to help feed hungry American families.

Senator John Thune, R-ND, in an article framing food stamps as a perk for paid government volunteers.

Right. Food stamps (SNAP benefits) are to help feed hungry Americans. At an AmeriCorps salary, especially in a city where needs are high and the cost of living is far higher than in more rural areas, it’s tough to get by. Being an AmeriCorps volunteer means that you make sacrifices and cuts, but safety nets like food stamps are there to support people having a hard time supporting themselves who (hopefully) are working honestly towards making ends meet (and making their communities better). AmeriCorps employees are and deserve the support of any safety nets they can access should they choose to.

Further, if AmeriCorps volunteers could opt into food stamps but only if they are then be ineligible for the education stipend, we as a country are training the exactly right people to become civicly excited and motivated, and then are pulling the rug from under them and making it far more difficult for them to get degrees often needed to apply their skill base and experiences on a more impactful level.

Even further, AmeriCorps volunteers accessing SNAP benefits does not take those benefits away from anyone else who is deserving!

Or, maybe the Senator is correct. In that case, let’s get used to the idea that AmeriCorps volunteers will increasingly be those coming from comfortable economic backgrounds. Because it’s tough to get by on an AmeriCorps salary alone.

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