Dr. Mariana Chilton, Children’s HealthWatch Co-Principal Investigator, and Children’s HealthWatch research on the ‘cliff effect’ were featured on The Nation’s “This Week in Poverty” blog.
Witnesses to Hunger (and Poverty) on the Hill
After the meeting with Kellie Adesina, legislative director for Ohio Representative Marcia Fudge, we returned to the coffee shop and Philadelphia Witness Emily Edwards told me more about how she and her son are faring. She started her job two weeks ago and knows that she will soon face what is known as “the cliff effect”: when an increase in income triggers a sudden loss of federal assistance, leaving a person economically worse off just as they are trying to get ahead.
Edwards has been through this before, and said that when she shares her first pay stub with her caseworker she will lose her TANF cash assistance and child care assistance, and her food stamps will be cut by “more than half.”
“If I can’t afford to pay someone to watch my child, then I can’t go to work,” said Edwards. “I’ll end up losing work, and go back to having to depend on this system that’s not really helping me get ahead in life, it’s helping me stay stagnated, and it starts to become a cycle.”
Edwards shared her experiences with Representatives Fattah and McGovern.
“They just don’t give us enough time once we get that job to make the transition,” she told them.
Dr. Mariana Chilton, director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities, pointed to research showing that families who have a modest increase in income, and therefore lose their SNAP benefits, are more likely to experience hunger than are families who remain on SNAP.
“Just when the families are doing what they’re supposed to do, and want to do—right here we’ve got a teacher and a home health aide—they get cut off at the knees,” said Chilton. “And that’s over and above the SNAP cuts on November 1 and whatever else might happen with SNAP next.”
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