Pulitzer winner dug beyond politics to explore impact of food stamps on American families

GWEN IFILL Interview of ELI SASLOW

25 million children on food stamps 

Forty-seven million people, or one out of every seven Americans, rely on government assistance to feed their families each month. For them, the $78 billion federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, long known as food stamps, is a lifeline.

food-stamps enrollment

And I think it’s easy here in D.C., or in a lot of places, to feel like the economy has recovered, the recession is over, people are doing better, the stock market is up. But the truth is, there is this lasting scar of the economic collapse, and it’s these 47 million people, one in seven Americans who are now dependent on the government for their food.

And the kind of journalism that I do, which we refer to as narrative journalism, it’s — I might be writing about big issues and numbers, but I’m doing that by going into people’s lives and into their homes, and not just interviewing them for a few minutes or a few hours, but really shadowing them for sometimes a week or two at a time.

And that’s a lot to ask of people, especially when you’re there when — in those weeks where the fridge is more and more empty and when maybe their three or four kids are not having very much toeat or waiting for one — one meal a day that’s provided by a food bank.

It’s a huge act of courage for people to say, sure, come into my life, watch this happen, and write about it for all these people to read.

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