Ditch the Instagram posts: Here’s how to help those requiring food assistance

A woman debates which produce to buy at a grocery store.


A woman debates which produce to buy at a grocery store.

Recently, rumors have circled social media, urging others to avoid shopping near the beginning of the month to allow recipients of food assistance programs such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children), and Social Security benefits to get the food they need. These rumors are false.

Families and individuals in these programs receive their benefits on a large variety of days, not just at the beginning of the month. Avoiding grocery shopping on certain days will not ensure that these families can get the food they need, and bypassing WIC-labeled products is not all you can be doing to help. Read on for some tips on how to best support those on food assistance.

1. Do your research

WIC products are not always labeled in grocery stores, but there are only certain products that people on this program, and others, can purchase. Steer clear of these products if possible, buy a different brand of the same product, or if you have to buy that specific product, only take as much as you need.

2. Don’t hoard

Don’t partake in the hysteria. Since WIC, SNAP, and Social Security benefits are only distributed once a month, families have to buy enough food to last until the next benefits come. Things like canned goods, flour, sugar, and frozen food should be bought in moderation to leave enough for the people who rely on these products. Also, hoarding essentials like toilet paper, diapers, and paper towels causes severe shortages.

3. Fact-check information before sharing

Misinformation can often lead to people taking action in an effort to be helpful, but in reality, they are detrimental. If everyone avoids the grocery stores at the beginning of the month, there will be a rush of people after the first week of the month, breaking social distancing protocol and resulting in a higher likelihood of an outbreak. Avoid this panic by fact-checking the information you see on social media before you share.

Overall, be mindful of those on food assistance programs and share accurate information with others. Pay attention to WIC-labeled products and other products that may not be labeled, don’t hoard products you don’t need, and remember to be compassionate.