Tony’s Story- SNAP + NSLP

Anthony “Tony” Garnet works as a grill cook for Chartwells at Trinity College. His station, the Grill Nation, often has a long line of hungry college students with whom he loves to talk to. Tony was born in South Carolina, but his grandmother wanted a new life, so she moved her family to Hartford when he  was three years old. They’ve stayed ever since. He started working with Chartwells at Trinity College when he was sixteen years old; it was his first job. I talked with Tony about his personal experiences with buying, preparing, and eating food in Hartford, CT.

National Nutrition Programs

The Farm Bill is a broad piece of legislation (a body of laws) that governs most food policies in the United States, such as food assistance programs. This bill is renewed every five years. The fourth title of the Farm Bill focuses on nutrition programs, and is a driving force behind several of Tony’s food stories. Specifically, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), (1:28-1:50) formerly known formerly as the Food Stamp Program and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) (2:36-3:20) are two notable food policies in Tony’s food story.


Roughly 17.6% of Hartford households receive SNAP benefits. Of that seventeen percent, 39.3% of those households are below poverty level.

SNAP helps low-income households access a healthy diet. The federal funded program also teaches its recipients nutrition education and how to properly (and safely) prepare food.

A household is eligible to receive SNAP benefits if its income is less than 185% of the federal poverty level (roughly $44,955 for a family of four in Connecticut).  The most money the family of four can get from SNAP is $640 a month. To learn more eligibility for SNAP click here.  For a screening tool to determine if you are qualified click here.


Last year (2017), 73.6% of the total number of lunches served in public schools across the nation were under NSLP.

The NSLP is targeted to helping low-income households, specifically school aged children. This federally funded program is essentially a meal plan that provides healthy lunches to children every school day at little to no cost for the household. More information about NSLP can be found here.

Eligibility Challenges

For some families, such as Tony’s, their income goes over the limit that SNAP and NSLP will count as eligible. (1:28-1:50 & 2:36-3:20) However, any difference between programs’ maximum income and the family’s income pushes the family out of the program (no matter how little). Despite the program’s purpose of assisting families, it still puts them in a hard place. On one hand it would be nice for any of the income makers to receive an increase in their pay, but on the other hand, that pay raise might make money even tighter by kicking them off SNAP and/or NSLP.

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