“Public Benefits” or income supports help families maintain a quality of life when they are unable to secure work or have a barrier to income. Benefits can include direct cash assistance, food assistance, healthcare. It can also mean help with transportation, childcare or other supportive services that a household needs to make ends meet. Our work in this area shapes our mission and focus.
Healthy Bucks: SC Appleseed has been working with a group of state Legislators and the SC Department of Social Services (SCDSS) to developed a state-wide program to increase the buying power of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits , as a way to combat hunger. As a result, South Carolina has pursued (and received Federal approval for) a state-wide Healthy Bucks Program that will ensure our most vulnerable residents won’t go hungry, expand access to healthy foods for low-income families, support local farmers, and grow our economy. Beginning in June 2014, recipients of SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, will be able to double the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables (up to $5) purchased with their EBT cards at participating farmers market locations. Read more about Healthy Bucks.
Raising Public Awareness: SC Appleseed has produced several Public Service Announcements (or PSAs) to publicize public policy issues. We show these PSAs on networks across our state. They can also be viewed at our YouTube site. Below is a PSA to raise awareness around the importance of the SNAP program, and breakdown stereotypes associated with food assistance benefits.
Combating Hunger: SC Appleseed advocates at the local, state and national levels for improved access to food for low-income South Carolinians. This includes ensuring the federal government provides necessary food commodities and helping all eligible households enroll in the Supplementary Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).
- We have a long history of working with the state’s food banks and seeing to it that federal assistance reaches the needy throughout the state. This includes training local advocates in the food provider community, so that they, the people on the ground, can improve food stamp enrollment and the distribution of other food services to their clients.
- We also work to facilitate better coordination between state agencies on hunger issues, promoting information-sharing and developing one-stop “shopping” for clients in need. Our expertise has been recognized at a national level.
- In June 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives Budget Committee invited our staff to testify on the efficacy of federal security programs.
Read more about how we work to combat hunger on our BLOG and through our Kids at Risk efforts.
Access to Quality, Affordable Healthcare: In the area of healthcare, we have fought against obstacles to Medicaid enrollment and worked with legislators to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program. We worked for years to accomplish a 50-cent increase in the cigarette tax to improve funding for Medicaid.
Read more about our work to ensure all in South Carolina have access to quality, affordable healthcare on our BLOG and on our healthcare policy page.
Unemployment Insurance: Supportive services can often help a family find its way off of public assistance into the workforce. In the area of employment, we have worked to maintain the availability of income assistance in the form of Unemployment Insurance, which is often the only resource that keeps someone who recently lost their job from total financial ruin.
- In late 2009, SC Appleseed called attention to the General Assembly’s failure to fully utilize federal Unemployment Insurance benefits, a mistake that could have caused more than 7,000 South Carolinians to lose their benefits. Consequently, when the legislature reconvened in December, and with technical assistance from SC Appleseed, adopted an emergency Unemployment Insurance statute that restored benefits.
- In 2010, SC Appleseed worked with the General Assembly to adopt the Unemployment Insurance Modification Act, an employee-friendly law that would expand benefit eligibility to part-time workers and persons who quit their jobs for compelling family reasons.
Brochures, publications and other resources on Public Benefits can be accessed here.