“Having that opportunity to apply and receive food stamps only helped us get nutrition and the right food to stay healthy,” he said. “What that did was help me in school. Because if I don’t eat in the morning, I can’t concentrate in school.”
Today, as the assistant vice president of Government Program Sales at Affinity Health Plan, Rosario sees the relationship between having affordable health care and being food insecure.
He sees many families, especially immigrant families, struggle with applying for government services, especially given the latest push by the Trump administration to make accessing public benefits a disqualifier for green card status.
“Besides the stigma, we have all these obstacles now, which is unfortunate,” he said. “You’ve got to pick and choose. It’s a shame.”
Rosario said he sees programs like SNAP and Medicaid as “helpful support for families in need.” People shouldn’t have to choose between food and health care, he said.
“For a rich country to spend a couple billion dollars on health care alone, we can’t find a solution for hunger?” he said. “I’m lost on that one.”
He also wants families to know that they can apply for these benefits and still live a healthy lifestyle.
“Whether you have money or not, you’d be surprised that people even with jobs go to bed, not so much just hungry, but not the proper food or proper nutrition,” he said.
As he has experienced firsthand, programs like food stamps help elevate families out of hunger and poverty.
“If it wasn’t for food stamps,” Rosario said, “I don’t know how well we would have survived.”