Alex uses SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, to purchase groceries in Episode 4. SNAP is a program that provides benefits for purchasing food at certain stores. Funds are put onto an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which works like a debit card.
Maid author Land said that she found SNAP easy to use, but said it’s hardly enough to buy what you need. “It also doesn't cover ‘ready to eat’ food (that is heated up, basically) or diapers, toiletries, and paper products,” she said.
Yu-Ling Chang, Assistant Professor of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley, told BuzzFeed that the restrictions on using SNAP for ready-to-eat items limits busy, working single mothers’ nutritious food options.
Chang adds that SNAP benefits are standardized at the federal level. This can be a problem.
“According to the self-sufficiency standard developed by the Center for Women’s Welfare, the average monthly food cost for a household with an adult and preschooler living in San Francisco in (California), for example, is $620,” said Chang. “If we compare this amount to the SNAP benefits ... The SNAP benefits are apparently insufficient for families, particularly those who are resident in an area with high-cost of living like the Bay Area.”
The max SNAP benefits for a two-person household is now $459, but this Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report estimates the average amount a two-person household would receive to be more like $334.
We see a fictionalized version of SNAP’s limitations when Alex has to return a couple of items when her EBT card won’t cover everything she picked out.