TJC Story Blog
A Father’s Struggle to Feed His Son in Springfield
The pandemic has created challenges for Tennessee families taking away jobs and paychecks needed to provide food for the their children. Food insecurity has increased to 31% for individuals with children in Tennessee during COVID-19. One father from Springfield, TN, lives at home with his 17-year-old son who is eligible for the Pandemic EBT program that provides money to families who have lost access to free school meals due to school closures. His son has been learning virtually since schools closed in March 2020 and he was finally able to go back to school in person a year latter, March 2021. While he is at work during the days, his son stayed at home for virtual school and spent his free time exercising and playing video games.
As a single father on a fixed income, he has to be creative, and has taught his son to cook melas such as goulash and refried bean burritos to last 2-3 days, coming from the ingredients they can afford each week. The benefits they receive from P-EBT at the end of last school year and last fall helped them keep more nutritious foods around such as salads, fruits, and tuna. His son is a former baseball player, so he keeps extra foods in the house for him to snack on when possible. Another way they stretch their food dollars is by buying less expensive filling foods, which are often higher in sugar or salt and lower in nutrient content in order to have more to last longer. The family’s income is too high for SNAP, but not enough to afford food and other basic needs. He wishes that income thresholds could be taken away for SNAP eligibility so that it can help more families struggling to make it, especially during a pandemic. He, like many families have had to wait for over 6 months for P-EBT and having the benefit would help him feed his son and take away some of the stress of paying for basic needs like food.