When you look in your medicine cabinet, is there something you could live without? Maybe cough syrup, body lotion, a trendy superfood, or one of your many bottles of Tylenol. The truth is, many of us don't have to make that decision, but for the 46.5 million people reliant on SNAP that decision is made for them.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), previously known as food stamps, does not allow its users to purchase non-food items including deodorant, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, and lice and bedbug treatments—all items in desperate need. Last year Oregon made the list of the top five states with the highest percentage enrollment in SNAP with 20 percent, but now with the help of a budding local organization, Live. Treat. Heal. Repeat., people living in poverty have a resource for these basic products most of us take for granted.
Elizabeth Candello, founder of the non-profit, is providing more than just products. She hopes to increase the time kids spend in school and decreasing the time parents spend away from work. “This organization is in direct response to the growing number of people missing work due to illness. They really don't have the preventative treatments to stay healthy,” Candello said. “These people are lacking resources, accessibility, time, and money.”
But Candello doesn't want to simply provide a dispensing service, she wants to create an integration program where active SNAP families in the community can share among other people reliant on SNAP. “I didn't want it to be a nonprofit where people feel as if they are getting a hand out in anyway, I want to grow a sharing economy.”
Candello plans to disperse products starting in October at the Baltazar Community Center on Killingsworth St., where Raquel Ageillon is the Senior Case Manager for the Multnomah County Department of Human Services.
Ageillon has been working in human services for over 19 years and explains her relationship with families surfing from the disadvantages a low income creates: “I meet so many wonderful, kind, genuine people that just fall into bad luck who really want to help and support their families so their kids can go to school and learn and not be troubled with where they’re gonna get food or where they're gonna live.”
Live. Treat. Heal. Repeat. also hopes to provide educational information for the almost 200 people per month that could use the service. You can help by donating at livetreathealrepeat.com or by picking up some extra non-food items at the grocery store (you can contact Candello directly and she will meet you anywhere to pick up the products). As Candello believes, “If Portlanders can focus on helping our neighbors, we can make big changes.”