Story #35

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Camila R. – By helping another,
she helped herself

BronxWorks Food Support Connection Program

Following in her mother’s footsteps by working in home healthcare, Camila (pictured on right) says she likes having a job where she’s able to help others.  Her family emigrated from Guyana 20 years ago when Camila was just 21, and she is now a US citizen.

She first heard about BronxWorks through the patient she takes care of in her job as home healthcare attendant.  A few years ago, Camila brought her patient to the BronxWorks Bedford Park Office after calling 311 to learn where the patient could get help accessing her Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (more commonly known as food stamps) benefit.

After the program coordinator Maxene Foster (left) helped Camila’s patient successfully secure her benefits, Maxene asked Camila if she was interested learning about in food stamps as a possibility for her own family as well.  Though money was tight, they determined that Camila’s income was too high for food stamps.  But about a year ago things changed dramatically as Camila’s job was cut back from 45-50 hours per week to just 25.

“It was terrible,” Camila says, noting that as the sole provider for her family, her income was just enough to cover the rent for the apartment she shares with her two high school aged children.  Camila’s husband has been out of the picture for years due to domestic violence, and her 21-year-old daughter lives with Camila’s mom, working part-time and attending Borough of Manhattan Community College.

After paying the rent, Camila had just a few dollars left to buy some basic groceries each month, but not enough to pack her kid’s lunches as she had always done.  Camila also couldn't afford to pay all the bills, so she had to stop the internet service that the kids relied on to do their homework.  In 9th and 10th grade, the two like school and are good students, so this was an additional unexpected challenge.

Seeing the effects of her reduced hours on her family, Camila realized she now truly needed the help of food stamps, so she tried to apply on her own, taking two days off of work to get fingerprinted and wait on line with hundreds of others at a local food stamps office.  When she didn’t hear anything for 30 days, she came back to BronxWorks Bedford Park Office for support.  Maxene noted that Camila was overwhelmed, but she helped her through the process and enabled them to receive expedited benefits within just five days.

Camila says “it’s good here [at BronxWorks]; not too confusing,” especially compared to the intimidating process of applying and interviewing for food stamps on her own!  Camila’s family now receives $367 on their food stamps card each month.  She is able to use this to purchase ample healthy food for her family, now directing most of her income towards rent and bills.
“We have it [food stamps] now, and everything’s good,” Camila states simply.  Now that they’re successfully enrolled, Camila understands most of the information that SNAP sends her, so she doesn’t need too much additional help but she knows that if she has questions, she can always come back to BronxWorks where she’ll get the right answers.

This kind of simple but crucial support is a foundation of what BronxWorks does day in and day out with the help of many good friends and partners: assisting our neighbors to build better futures for themselves and their families.

BronxWorks’ Food Support Connection is a hunger prevention initiative designed to assist the many Bronx residents who are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – commonly known as food stamps – but have never applied. Outreach specialists prescreen people for eligibility and help facilitate their SNAP applications.  Questions or comments? Send them to

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