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NEW! Guides for Finding Community Assistance Resources by State


For many of our neighbors, the economic consequences of the pandemic has thrust them into the sometimes-confusing world of applications, documentation and eligibility requirements that make up our public assistance programs here in the United States. The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) increased funding and broadened eligibility to many of these programs, but since many of these programs are administered by states, how to apply depends on where you live.

ELCA World Hunger’s newest set of guides, “Community Assistance Resources by State,” is meant to help potential applicants get started in applying for benefits they and their families may need. Each one-page guide has links to information and applications for each of the following programs for all 50 states and Washington, DC:

  • unemployment insurance;
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
  • Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC);
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP);
  • Rental and housing resources from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); and
  • child care assistance (for most states).

In addition, each sheet has contact information for the National Suicide Hotline, the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the Farmer Crisis Hotline.

We included some information about changes to programs, where possible, though with many programs in flux, we only included information that we are reasonably certain will still be accurate as we head into Fall 2020.

How to Use the Community Assistance Guides

The guides are on the ELCA World Hunger resources page under the “Hunger Ed” tab. All of the states are grouped together in a zip folder. If using a PC, simply save the folder to your desktop, right-click on the folder once it is downloaded and click “Extract All…” A folder with all of the guides should appear.

The guides are meant to be a starting point for finding applications and information on public programs. These can be shared electronically with members of a congregation, contacts on an email list or with clients of a feeding ministry. They can also be printed and placed in bags with food during distribution days at a food pantry. These can also be posted to social media groups for a community or shared on a website.

As you can see in the Montana guide above, most of the information contains links to websites, while some also have phone numbers. There are a few reasons for this. First, the agencies that administer many of these programs have been overwhelmed with calls. Some potential applicants are finding that hold times are very, very long, if their call is answered at all. Going online is typically the quickest way to apply. Where possible, we included links to paper applications for some assistance programs, for folks with challenges filling out forms online, either due to internet access or ability level. The second reason is that the most up-to-date information on eligibility and process can be found online.

Having direct links to the information can also help potential applicants find what they need much faster. Digging through state government websites can be tricky, and there are several websites that appear to be state-run are not the right sites and may present a risk for security of applicants’ information. The links on ELCA World Hunger’s Community Assistance Resource Guides have been checked by multiple staff for accuracy.

What If Clients Don’t Have Internet Access?

The COVID-19 pandemic is revealing what many folks have known for years: there is a deep digital divide between communities that have access to the internet at home and communities that have insufficient or no access. So, how can neighbors who don’t have internet access use these resources?

There are a couple solutions to this problem. First, some of the guides have links to paper applications that can be printed out and sent to congregation members or placed in a bag of food during distribution at a food pantry. The paper applications usually include the mailing address for the agency, so this is one easy solution.

Second, if your ministry has switched to a drive-through or walk-up model at a church, look into how far your church’s wifi extends on the property. For some churches, guests may be able to access the network from their cars. Consider setting up a waiting section of the parking lot for guests to access the church’s wifi and fill out the application using their own computers. In many cases, the applications are quick to fill out. This does depend on your state, though. For unemployment insurance, some states have set up scheduled days when applicants can apply. Be sure to check these first. Also, be sure to check with the church administrator to make sure the wifi connection is secure and available for clients to use.

Another option during food distribution is to provide computer stations outside for clients to use. This is a bit more difficult. The computers would need to be secure (especially in deleting browser history after each use), socially distant from other computers, guests, or volunteers, and covered in such a way that they can be easily disinfected after each use.

Also, remember that the crisis response resources are phone or text-based. For neighbors facing crises related to mental health or domestic violence, these hotlines can be an important help and do not require a computer.

Accessing the public benefits that are available in your state can be confusing for folks. But with these guides to get started, the process can be much easier and less time-consuming.

Note: Most of the public benefits expanded under the CARES Act are not available to undocumented immigrants. The ELCA’s AMMPARO ministry has shared a spreadsheet of resources on its Facebook page to help non-citizen neighbors find the support they need.

Of Community and Courage: Responding to Public Charge Rule as a Sanctuary Church


Last week, the ELCA Churchwide Assembly took action be a “sanctuary denomination” – publicly declaring our intent to walk alongside immigrants and refugees as a matter of faith. In response to this action, a well-used question of Martin Luther again began to surface – “what does this mean?”

And yet, just as voting members were returning home and news of this action was traveling far and wide, another announcement also hit the news cycle — a final rule that changes the public charge policies used to determine eligibility for people seeking to immigrate to the United States or to change a current immigration status.

In short, the proposed public charge rule change favors wealthier immigrants and will negatively weigh the use of a wide variety of forms of public assistance, including non-emergency Medicaid for adults, low-income housing assistance and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; formerly called “food stamps”).

While the rule itself has many nuances and implications laid out in the 800-page document, the question again becomes – “what does this mean?”

First, it’s important to remember that this rule change is not aimed at undocumented immigration, though it may have indirect effects on undocumented immigrants. The people most affected by this rule will be potential immigrants applying for visas, current visa-holders seeking to extend their stay and immigrants applying for a change in legal status (for example, applying for permanent residency.)

One of the most immediate consequences may be a sharp drop in the number of people applying for and receiving benefits like Section 8 housing assistance and SNAP. SNAP is one of the most reliable federal safety net programs for helping people facing food insecurity get through tough economic situations. About 11.7 percent of people in the US rely on SNAP, according to the US Census Bureau. Contrary to rhetoric that suggests people receiving public assistance don’t work, about 79 percent of households receiving SNAP in 2017 had at least one person working in the year they received benefits. By contrast, of the households which did not receive SNAP in 2017, about 86.1 percent had at least one worker. The difference is far from huge. Often, households rely on SNAP to supplemental insufficient income or to pay for food when there is no work, such as during seasonal down-times.

In terms of citizenship status, in 2017, 11.2 percent of native-born US citizens relied on SNAP, while 17.1 percent of foreign-born non-citizens received SNAP. It’s important to remember that undocumented immigrants are not eligible for SNAP benefits, and most documented non-citizens working in the US pay taxes that fund SNAP. According to the USDA, in general, non-citizens must meet one or more of the following criteria to be eligible for SNAP (in addition to meeting limits for income): have lived in the country for at least 5 years, be receiving disability-related assistance, or be under the age of 18.

The decrease of SNAP participation is likely to leave food insecure families relying more heavily on community resources, like food pantries, to help meet their needs. But as most folks working in hunger-related ministries know, community responses to hunger cannot match the capacity of governmental responses. So, another likely result is an increase in hunger in communities across the US.


In defense of the rule change, Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, took the opportunity to revise Emma Lazarus’ famous poem etched on the Statue of Liberty. In his rendition, “The New Colossus” reads: “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge…” Self-sufficiency, he claimed, should be a litmus test for welcome.

On its surface, self-sufficiency may seem like a worthy ideal. After all, a lot of anti-hunger and anti-poverty organizations doing great work celebrate the steps they help people make toward self-sufficiency.

For the church, though, it is a matter of faith that we are not self-sufficient. One of the most basic tenets of Christian faith is that humans are created as dependent creatures. We depend on God for our creation and sustenance, on one another to meet our basic needs, and on grace for our salvation. We are created to be in community with each other and with God in part because we are not self-sufficient. Our well-being depends on the health of these relationships.

To be a sanctuary church means recognizing the reality of our interdependence. But it also goes a step further. To be a sanctuary church is to offer a different model of community, one in which welcome is extended to all and one in which our vulnerabilities and dependencies are laid bare. The social ethic the church offers is not merely its public voice but its very self – a community where blessings and burdens are shared.


As Lutherans, we affirm that one of the institutions on which we are dependent is government. Just laws are gifts from God for our safety, peace and well-being. But we also affirm that laws are not good in themselves. They are good insofar as they reflect justice and equity and insofar as they enable well-being within a community.

Providing public benefits is one way well-being is safeguarded in the US. SNAP benefits, for example, ensure that families have the means to obtain the food they need during hard times. Housing assistance equips people facing financial challenges to live in a safe, stable home. Health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid ensure that the most vulnerable neighbors among us will have access to the services they need to survive. And yet, these same programs are the targets of the new DHS rule. Accessing any of these may mean that a non-citizen in the US will be deemed a liability and barred from full participation in the community.

For many people, the prospect of this new rule is frightening. How can one choose between the help they need now and the legal status they may hope for in the future?

Government is no stranger to fear. Indeed, fear is, to some extent, part of the role of government. Paul’s letter to the Romans, so often tossed about as justification for obedience to government, admonishes that “rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad” (Romans 13:3a). But what happens when rulers become a “terror” to all? Several ELCA pastors and leaders have noted the fear that plagues the people in their communities – fear that a visa may be denied or that an application to stay in the US will be rejected.

We need to bear in mind here that this new rule does not impact undocumented immigrants, who are ineligible for the benefits listed in it. This rule will directly affect the millions of non-citizen individuals and families who are trying to do things “right” but need help along the way.

To be a sanctuary church in this context is to refuse to be comfortable when neighbors among us are afflicted. To be a sanctuary church is to recognize that when government becomes a “terror” to “good conduct,” that government is fundamentally broken. To be a sanctuary church is to, in the words of Martin Luther, to rebuke that government “openly and boldly before God and men” (Luther’s Works 13:49). As Luther writes, this is not seditious but “a praiseworthy, noble, and rare virtue, and a particularly great service to God” (Luther’s Works 13:50).

When the well-being of neighbors is threatened, the church is called to hold government to account, not as a matter of politics, but as a matter of faith in the God who institutes government for the well-being of all.

What Can Be Done

State attorneys general have already begun the process of challenging the rule change in court, and there may be opportunities for advocacy in the weeks to come. Until then, here are some steps to take now.

Reach out to local ministries.

Local food pantries and feeding programs are a critical response to hunger in the US, though their capacity cannot match the need addressed through programs like SNAP. As the new rule is implemented, it is likely that many immigrant neighbors will forego SNAP benefits and need to rely more heavily on community interventions like pantries and soup kitchens. Reach out to local ministries to learn more about their needs and ways you can support them.

Listen to neighbors.

Effective responses to hunger start with meaningful, mutual relationships. The rule change, recent enforcement decisions by the federal government and public rhetoric have fostered fear and uncertainty. Take time to listen to neighbors and let them know our church supports them. Try to identify needs that can be addressed in the short-term as we work together for long-term change.

Share information.

If you are the leader of a community ministry, you may have clients who will be impacted by the new rule. It will be important to provide them with accurate, up-to-date information as the date for implementing the rule (October 15) gets closer. Consider developing handouts or posters that communicate information they may need to know. If your ministry involves caseworkers, be sure that they are equipped to handle questions about the rule. The National WIC Association has some helpful resources for clients and staff of community programs. (WIC is not one of the benefits included in the new rule.) The Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign also has some helpful resources, including newly updated pdfs on the public charge rule.

Be the church.

Much of the work to respond to this upcoming change has already been done – through the building of meaningful relationships with neighbors in our communities. But much more work awaits. In this time, we are called to bear witness to a new type of community – a banquet at which all are welcome. As a sanctuary church, the ELCA is committed to continue accompaniment of neighbors facing adversity, uncertainty and fear. This is lived out through local congregations and the ministry they do every day. Yet still, we must continually remind ourselves that hospitality is not an issue of partisan politics but of faith in the God who transcends all “principalities and powers.” To be a sanctuary church is to enter in to the vulnerabilities of our neighbors as if they were our own and to bear witness to the interdependence with which God has created the world and the diversity with which God has blessed it.

Walking Together During the Government Shutdown – How to Help


The shutdown causes worry and doubt about when I will be able to return to work. I wonder if this will continue – how will I be able to make ends meet? I think the church can walk with those affected by the shutdown by raising the concerns of those impacted to lawmakers. Let elected leaders know their communities are being negatively affected. Churches can also be part of providing emergency assistance and relief to those in need. -Richard, furloughed federal worker and ELCA World Hunger leader, Washington, D.C.

During this government shutdown, those affected are at the front of our minds – and we know you share in this care and concern, too.

The current shutdown impacts many of us and our neighbors – from furloughed federal workers waiting for paychecks to hungry families worrying that the help they need to purchase food may not be there next month.

ELCA World Hunger and the MEANS Database have put together this short, practical list of things to consider and do to help our neighbors. Read and share. But most importantly, remember all our neighbors facing the immediate effects of financial uncertainty during this critical time.

Five Ways to Walk Together During the Shutdown

Check-in with your local food pantries, feeding ministries and other emergency shelters.

People facing food insecurity and the programs and ministries that help them are at significant risk during an extended shutdown. Federally-funded programs like SNAP, which help provide support to families facing hunger, have been able to send out payments for our neighbors in need this month and, thanks to a plan put together by the USDA earlier this week, through the end of February, too. But if the shutdown lasts into March or beyond, this funding will run out. Other anti-hunger programs are in danger, too. The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, which provides nutrition for pregnant women and children under age 5, faces the same lapse in funds as SNAP, as does TEFAP, which is a primary way food banks and pantries get access to affordable foods for their clients.

Does your congregation have or host a food-related ministry? Stop by and check-in; ask how things are going. What are they seeing and hearing from guests? Ask what the ministry or service provider needs most right now – the answer may surprise you.

If you’re a rostered leader, consider stopping by the space before opening and offering a supportive blessing for the space and those that will share time together today.

Host a “pop-up” food drive.

Once you’ve checked in with your local hunger ministry, host a food drive to help provide the resources they’ve told you they need most. ELCA World Hunger’s “Road Map to Food Drives” resource can get you started.


Pray personally and publicly for those who govern, those experiencing hardship due to the shutdown and those who walk with them. As the nation waits for agreement on a new spending authorization, pray that God will guide legislators in their work and will be with our neighbors affected by the government shutdown.

Make a monetary donation to a feeding ministry – locally or globally.

Providing physical food resources through a drive is good, but cash is often better. Cash in hand for your local pantry often means more cans on the shelf than you can buy at the grocery store.

Reach out and support those directly feeling the strain – listen and help make those voices heard.

Who in your congregation, school and community might be affected? Reach out, send a text, let them know you care. What do they need? If you are directly affected yourself, speak that truth and share your story as you can. Consider writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or website, sharing a temple talk in church or letting your elected officials know your experience.

For updates, follow ELCA World Hunger and MEANS Database:


ELCA World Hunger

MEANS Database




Hunger and Poverty by the Numbers – 2018


With so much information out there, it can be difficult to know the most accurate statistics for measuring hunger and poverty. But knowing the data about what is happening can go a long way to helping us talk about the issues accurately and craft effective, forward-looking responses. For those who share with their congregation information about hunger and poverty, these numbers can also be helpful in putting together presentations or workshops.

Below, we have compiled the data from the most reliable sources we have for official numbers on poverty and hunger in the United States and around the world. You can download the slides to put directly into a presentation or use the numbers in your communications and work. You can also download the entire Power Point presentation at the link at the end.

ELCA World Hunger relies on several sources for data:

*One important note before we get started is that data are always for previous years. Below, we’ve indicated what years are being measured by the data. These are the most up-to-date statistics available from the sources. All statistics, graphs and charts come from the respective sources listed above.

U.S. Poverty

We’ll start off with data about the United States. Here are the thresholds used to measure poverty in 2017:

The poverty thresholds are reported here as averages for households by number of people. The Census Bureau takes into account the age of householders and the number of children to determine the threshold. So, for example, for a household of four, the average poverty threshold is $25,094. The range, though, is $24,944-$25,283, depending on the characteristics of the household. You can see another example in the slide under the household of a single person.

Another important point here is that the poverty thresholds differ from the poverty guidelines.

The guidelines are used to determine eligibility for certain government programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; formerly food stamps). The guidelines don’t vary based on age or number of children. The thresholds are used to measure poverty. The thresholds are based on three times the cost of a minimum food diet in 1963, adjusted for inflation.

To be considered “in poverty” in the US, a household’s income must be below the threshold.

To be considered eligible for some government assistance programs, a household’s income must be below (or below a certain multiple) of the poverty guideline.

The economy in the US has been growing in terms of employment and median income, but the data seem to point to some contradictions in this growth. Median household income has grown from 2016 to 2017, but real median earnings (wages) have declined. What explains the difference? It would seem that either people are working more hours or more people in the household are working. Both would make the household income increase while wages are decreasing.

Source: US Census Bureau

One of the other worrisome trends is that there appears to be a good number of folks spending more money than they are making. The table above shows income before taxes, income after taxes and average annual expenditures. The red arrows indicate the comparison between income after taxes and expenditures for all households. It appears that for all income groups making less than $50,000 after taxes, their expenditures exceed their income. It isn’t until we reach the big red arrow (under the group making between $50,000 and $69,999) that the income starts to exceed expenditures.

It could be that people are misreporting their income, leaving off sources of income like government assistance. Or, it could be that people are drawing on more credit. But either way, it would appear that a great many Americans are unable to sustain their expenditures on their own income.

Here are the official numbers of people in the US with incomes below the poverty threshold:

We see a slight decrease nationally, though the number is still really high – about 39.7 million people living in poverty in 2017.

When we look at the education level of people in poverty, interestingly, the only group that saw an increase was people with at least a bachelor’s degree, though they still have the lowest rate of all people based on educational level.

U.S. Food Insecurity

Turning to food security in the United States, we can see a slight decrease from 2016 to 2017. The USDA uses the term “food insecurity” instead of “hunger” to capture more accurately the situation for most people in the US. Food insecurity means that at some point during the year, a household lacked access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. Chronic hunger, the kind we’ll get to when we turn to global hunger, is relatively rare in the US. The phrase the USDA uses is “recurrent not chronic,” which means that households experience periods of food insecurity throughout the year, but this is usually not persistent day-to-day. For many, periods of food insecurity come at the end of the month (when benefits run out) or during seasons when work is harder to come by.

Child food insecurity in the US is really hard to measure for a couple reasons. First, children, especially young children, are usually the last people in a household to experience food insecurity. Often, adults or older children will give up their food to ensure the younger ones have enough to eat. There are also some programs specifically geared toward school-age children that can help, like the National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs. Because of the difficulty in measuring child food insecurity, the notes on the slide are carefully phrased. We can say how many children lived in households where children and adults faced food insecurity, though the data from the USDA don’t allow us to say for sure that every child in that household was food insecure.

Global Poverty

Source: World Bank

Source: World Bank

Global extreme poverty is defined as income below $1.90 per day. The numbers point to some tremendous progress since 1990, when about 35 percent of people worldwide were experiencing extreme poverty. The biggest contributor to this decline, according to the World Bank, has been economic growth, particularly in Asia. On the last slide above, you can see the poverty rate by region of the world shifting pretty drastically. In East Asia and the Pacific, the rate of poverty has gone from 60 percent in 1990 to less than 3 percent in 2015 (the most recent year.)

This has led the World Bank to conclude that “extreme poverty is increasingly becoming a Sub-Saharan African problem,” since  Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates of extreme poverty and is the only region where poverty seems to be increasing.

This does tend to miss another trend in global poverty, though. Fewer and fewer people are living today in what might be called “low-income” countries. What this means is that there needs to be more of an emphasis on poverty within middle- and high-income countries. It also means that governments and organizations can no longer focus solely on “poor countries.” For the World Bank, this shift has signaled the need to measure poverty from a higher line, since participation in a labor market in a middle-income or high-income is more expensive than in a low-income country.

As an example, to get a job in a low-income country, a worker might only need food and clothing. In order to get a job in a middle-income or high-income country, however, the same worker might need internet access, a cell phone or transportation. For this reason, the World Bank has also started measuring poverty at $3.20 per day and $5.50 per day. At these lines, the global poverty rate jumps to 26.3 percent (at $3.20) and 46.0 percent (at $5.50 per day.) An important note: these lines have not replaced the $1.90 per day threshold by which global poverty is still currently measured.

Global Food Security

Global undernourishment is where we see some very concerning trends. After years of decline, we have seen a rise in global hunger over the last couple years, as the data show. The growth is slight – about 0.1 percent between 2016 and 2017 – it’s still a big shift after so much progress. There has been a much greater increase in severe hunger over the same time, from 8.9 percent in 2016 to 10.2 percent in 2017.

One of the biggest drivers of this, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) is climate change.

Climate change impacts hunger in several ways. The FAO discusses four of these. Climate change decreases:

  • Food availability – When droughts and floods destroy crops, there is less food to harvest;
  • Food access – When agricultural workers lose their jobs because of climactic changes, they cannot afford the little food that is available in the market;
  • Food utilization – When supplies become low (see food availability), costs go up at the same time incomes of farmers are going down. Moreover, with floods and warmer weather, the conditions are ripe for increased growth of mold and bacteria;
  • Stability – The health and welfare of people is deeply affected by the climate. A lack of water due to drought can exacerbate kidney problems and increase the risk of heatstroke. With a limited variety of foods available, the nutritional needs of children and adults may not be met. And when resources are scarce, people may feel the need to migrate to other areas (making them vulnerable to hunger) or conflict can erupt between communities competing for the same resources (again, making hunger more likely.)

Finally, the FAO last year started measuring nutritional outcomes of wasting and stunting, which are defined on the slide. Stunting is more closely linked to long-term undernourishment, while wasting is more closely linked to immediate spikes in undernourishment, so they are a bit different. Both are serious outcomes, though, and can indicate immediate and future needs for children who are undernourished.

Together, the statistics point to some good news, like the continued decrease in poverty both worldwide and in the US, and some challenging news, like the rise in global hunger and the millions of children still affected by stunting or wasting. But the main message to take away from this is that great progress can and has been made over the years against poverty and hunger. Now, there is a need to re-focus energies and attention to continue this progress and, especially, to prevent the rise in global hunger from continuing.

Follow this link to download the full PowerPoint presentation.

Thank you for all that we do together to respond to poverty and hunger in our world!

If you have any questions about the data presented here, please contact Ryan Cumming, program director for hunger education with ELCA World Hunger, at

ELCA World Hunger and ELCA Advocacy Host “Public Charge” Webinar


Applying for citizenship or the right to extend your stay as an immigrant in the United States has never been the easiest process, but it’s about to get much harder for many families. This week, the United States Department of Homeland Security proposed a change in the way visas and green cards are handled. The proposed change would alter the definition of what constitutes a “public charge” and may have significant effects on our immigrant neighbors in the US.

What is a “public charge”?

Under current policies, immigrants seeking to come to or stay in the US and non-citizen residents must demonstrate that they are able to sustain themselves financially. The “public charge” rule is designed to exclude immigrants who are likely to become “public charges,” that is, who may have to rely on public assistance to support themselves and their families. Participation in certain programs is understood to be evidence that someone is likely to become (or already is) a “public charge.” Under the current policy, these programs include Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, which provides a modest cash benefit to people in poverty), government-funded long-term institutional care, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI, which primarily goes to people with disabilities.)

What is the proposed change?

Under the proposed change in “public charge,” participation in many other programs will be included as negative marks against applications for admission into the US and for the extension or change in visas. If enacted, immigrants who have used the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; formerly food stamps), non-emergency Medicaid, and housing assistance (including Section 8) in the 36 months prior to application can be deemed a likely “public charge” and have their application denied. (This will be in effect after the rule is implemented. People who have used these programs prior to the rule change will not be affected.)

What will be the effects?

The consequences of the rule change could be vast. What is likely to happen is that immigrants who need the support of programs like SNAP, Medicaid, or Section 8 will not use them out of fear that it will hurt their chances at extending their visas or renewing their green card.

What is important to remember is the wide swath of residents this applies to. It’s sometimes easy for US citizens to forget the broad diversity of immigration statuses, including student visas, employment visas, and families with citizen children and non-citizen parents. Individuals and families in any of these groups potentially could be impacted by the change.

Who uses SNAP?

SNAP is one of the most reliable federal safety net programs for helping people facing food insecurity get through tough economic situations. About 11.7 percent of people in the US rely on SNAP, according to the US Census Bureau. Contrary to rhetoric that suggests people receiving public assistance don’t work, about 79 percent of households receiving SNAP in 2017 had at least one person working in the year they received benefits. By contrast, of the households which did not receive SNAP in 2017, about 86.1 percent had at least one worker. The difference is far from huge. Often, households rely on SNAP to supplemental insufficient income or to pay for food when there is no work, such as during seasonal down-times.

In terms of citizenship status, in 2017, 11.2 percent of native-born US citizens relied on SNAP, while 17.1 percent of foreign-born non-citizens received SNAP. It’s important to remember that undocumented immigrants are not eligible for SNAP benefits, and most documented non-citizens working in the US pay taxes that fund SNAP.

Learn More

As people of faith, we are called to remember our own migration (Deuteronomy 10:19) and to treat other immigrants with the same concern we would show citizens: “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:34). This proposed rule change will directly harm our neighbors as they work to build new lives in the US.

Join ELCA Advocacy and ELCA World Hunger for a webinar on Wednesday, September 26, at 3 PM ET/2 PM CT to:

  • Understand Public Charge and the repercussions of the proposed rule change for immigrants;
  • Hear why Lutherans are engaged on the issue; and
  • Learn how you/your ministry/congregation can submit public comments.

Register for the webinar here.