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Abstract

This study examines the economic coping strategies of low-income families, using data collected through qualitative interviews conducted in 2006-08 with 35 low-income women residing in the Detroit metropolitan area. Three rounds of interviews found that the majority of the sample were employed at least some of the time, and most had children living with them. Despite careful shopping practices, rising food prices forced cutbacks in purchase of certain foods, including milk, cereal, fruits, and meat. Just under half reported running out of food at some point during the year. As for government assistance, the then named Food Stamp Program, and now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), was their mainstay. Even when eligible for benefits, many of the families did not receive cash assistance, unemployment benefits, or workers’ compensation due to perceived access barriers.

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