Food Stamp Etiquette: Human Kindness

shopping in grocery storeThis is now officially the first month in two years that my family has not been depending on food stamps to feed ourselves. The moment that I realized that I no longer qualified for these benefits was incredibly triumphant for me. Within the same moment of celebrating I also felt so incredibly thankful. I have no idea how my family would have existed without this kind of supplemental assistance to purchase food.  Currently over 45 million families use food stamps – that is roughly 15% of the population of the United States.

Chances are you know someone beyond me that was on (or is currently on) food stamps.

With that in mind I wanted to put together a small list of lessons learned while I was on food stamps:

1. Not all grocery stores accept food stamps (also called EBT cards). I always found it embarrassing/ stressful to find a cashier or customer service person before shopping to ask them. Many times I have had to pull W out of the buggy and leave a store because I could not get groceries there. 97% of the time the response was given in kindness, 3% of the time my answer was given gift wrapped in judgement.

2. Judgment. It’s everywhere. This was always a shock to me. There is a moment after you ring up your groceries when the cashier sees that you have a plastic card. They ask, “debit or credit?” You have to reply, “EBT” (electronic benefit transaction) – it’s a change in the atmosphere – it’s subtle – but I felt it often enough to recognize it. Judgement. Not every cashier, not every store. But often enough that I knew which stores and which check out lines to avoid.

3. Parallel to judgment, there are people that will attempt to shame you for being on food stamps. Heard the phrase “entitlement mentality”? Yup, that’s shaming.

4. Making food stamps “chic” is offensive. I can’t tell you how awful it is to see someone writing about their creative menu planning for the month and saying it is an homage to the sort of budgeting that one has to/ should do while on food stamps. There are tons of sites that dedicate posts to “food stamp challenges” or “snap challenges” and while I get the desire to create a challenge for yourself or your own family, at the end of the day if you need to buy one more carton of milk beyond your budget chances are that you can. One day I’ll ask a friend if I can tell you the story about the “Hobo themed” wedding as it illustrates why this sort of “shabby chic” aspect of poverty is hurtful.

5. Blanket assumptions about why a family is on food stamps don’t help anyone. The truth is if you qualify for the benefits then you need them. It is an incredibly tedious process to apply for state benefits – I know because  I have lived in three states while my family recovered from our own personal economic/situational knock-out.

Many months ago a friend on twitter tweeted that she was behind a woman at a checkout line and the woman was paying with food stamps and she had a DESIGNER PURSE!!!! OMG!! Because, you know, the nerve of that lady! This is such a common knee jerk reaction that so many people have. Having been on food stamps I see the world differently.

If I saw a woman with a designer purse paying with her groceries with food stamps my thought would probably be, “nice bag!”

Because, guess what, we don’t know what is up in this woman’s life. We don’t know her beginning, middle, where she is now. We don’t know if the purse is real, we don’t know if the purse was one of the last things she purchased for herself before her life took a turn, we don’t know if the purse was a gift, we don’t know if the purse was something that she set aside $10 every week for a year in order to buy.

So because we know none of these things – why is the first thought something akin to, “shame on her for daring to have a nice purse when she is on food stamps.” Because the thought that isn’t far from that one is, “she doesn’t deserve it, she isn’t worthy.”

There is a spotlight on you when you shop with food stamps – it is undeniable. You are very much aware that at some point the person behind you is probably judging the name brand of milk on the conveyor belt, making note that you didn’t buy any meat…

One of the most powerful moments I ever had in a grocery store happened recently. The checkout clerk had finished ringing up my groceries and when he saw my plastic card he mistook it for a credit card. When I corrected him to let him know that I needed to use EBT to purchase my groceries I flushed – it was always embarrassing to talk about it, always- he simply shrugged and said quietly, “my family and I are on them too. No Big deal.”

No big deal.

That is the key to food stamp etiquette. Of course there are probably some very serious issues going on in a persons life – in my own life I had death, loss of employment, loss of home, new baby…serious stuff. Being able to feel like just any other person at the grocery store was one of the things I had to look forward to in my week.

And sure, there will always be some person that will know a person that read an article about a family or individual that “scammed” the government. Well shame on that person. I never encountered such an individual. The people I met also on food stamps were poor, lived in poverty, carried such fear and anxiety in their soul about the big “what next??”.

I just want to put the focus back on human kindness. Warmth. As we get near a season where it is especially hard to be without (food, shelter, family) think about what you can do to help.  You don’t have to give money, heck you don’t even have to give groceries, just give a smile. To the family in line in front of you or behind you – smile. It’s huge.

Trust me.

Comments

  1. says

    It’s crazy, because my first real experience with food stamps was in Vermont, where, um, almost everyone I knew was on them. There is no stigma in small-town Vermont to be on food stamps or WIC or anything. Because the program (and VT in general) is so generous, if your kid was on Dr. Dynasaur (the income-based kids’ health program), your family was on EBT or WIC, period. My best friends were in MEDICAL SCHOOL, and were on food stamps. It was . . . no big deal. We qualified for WIC for a while because Adam was unemployed and we used Dr. D. It was . . . no big deal.

    When it comes to this kind of thing, I really wish people could spend some time in that little town in VT and see how weirdly utopian it was about this stuff. You learn a lot about who is and isn’t using benefits and why, and you begin to understand that most stigmas related to it are so stupid and ill-informed and while YES, there are people who “game” the system, that is true of ANY SYSTEM. EVER. But that does not negate the overwhelming benefits of the system as a whole, nor does it invalidate the needs and rights for other people to USE those benefits without being judged.

  2. says

    Thank you for sharing this. As someone who has always been fortunate enough to have enough to buy groceries, I haven’t thought much about this. But I know many of my students’ families get food this way and it’s so helpful to have a better understanding of what they go through. Thank you.

  3. Gille says

    I love this post and that checkout clerk. Congratulations on your first month and thank you so much for this post. I know a couple grocery stores who could use a print out of this!

  4. f says

    Whenever someone talks about the very few random people who “game” the system, I always ask, ‘Oh, and you don’t know ANYONE who has gamed to win in capitalism? Anyone who tries to get out of paying their taxes by finding every single deduction? Anyone who drives on public roads, sends their kids to public schools, and not give much back to the community? Companies which register in other states to get lower tax rates? People who set up massive trusts to keep more of their money in their family? Any elderly person who is on Social Security? Oh, that’s their right? Well then, I must be mistaken, because I thought it was a right to not have a hungry family in the US in 2011.”

      • Katie says

        Capitalist basing is so popular right now too…. Just a little note: the difference between scamming to get food stamps and taking all your tax deductions and setting up trusts is that one is illegal and the others aren’t.

        Stealing and lying are stealing and lying… no matter how much money you have.

        • Erica says

          A lot of 1% scams are not technically illegal (like, say, not paying your employees enough to live on and relying on Medicaid and food stamps to pick up the slack) but are still immoral.

    • Alan says

      Right, why can’t those welfare moms be like General Electric and set up foreign subsidiaries so they don’t have to repatriate their profits and pay taxes on them?

    • Samantha says

      I no longer recieve these benefits, but i hate the way people talk about them. I would have been young single mom that lived with her parents if i didnt recieve food stamps. I was capable of delaying some bill payments and scheduling around them to save… yes save money. now because of the oppurtunities the state gave me ( i only ever had the help from food stamps ) i own a home and i am not on them anymore…. so my question is, why are they attack like there are? why not smile and say one less hungry family for me to pray about this christmas season :) the anger that alot of individuals have expressed over this, has begun to make me feel a little less proud to be an american

    • blossom says

      Well the social security thing is def their “right” that money is taken from your paycheck you earned it it is YOURS not someone elses and frankly its nothing more then government theft.

  5. says

    Thank you so much for this post. Especially the part about the designer purse. Though I may not have said that exact sentence, I am guilty of the thought and I thank you for calling me (and others) out on that.

    You are right. No big deal.

    Great writing. And great amazing hard work you’ve done.

    • Tyger says

      It looks like my son and I will have to go on food stamps, and other social services immediately. This is because , after many years of constant physical, verbal,psychological, and sexual abuse, I have finally realized I simply can’t take any more abuse in my marriage. Yes, enduring judgmental looks, living in poverty, etc., is preferable to a more material comfortable situation with an abuser (he refuses to abide by our separation agreement, and hasn’t paid a dime of spousal or child support, so I can’t even get a lawyer to divorce/enforce support). I have three designer bags, two were gifts many years ago, and one I scrimped and saved and use for job interviews, only.

      Please try not to judge others. Like the original poster stated: You simply don’t KNOW the story, sometimes things aren’t what they appear to be. I am a highly educated woman, who is also working with the Coalition for Domestic Violence on getting a job, while I have been frantically searching for ANY and ALL work for several months. I’ve only had 3 interviews, and each time, they hired from within. Times are very tough for everyone. Believe me: I would MUCH rather work than accept ANY handouts, whether it’s from the government, friends, or family, no matter how graciously it’s done. Our lives have been destroyed by someone who is actively trying to destroy us. My soon to be ex even told me that was what he was trying to do: besides abuse, he also slanders my character with lies so that I’ll lose out on jobs! I am also seeking help for my son ( support groups, etc.), because I don’t want to see this sweet kid suffer, or turn into someone like his father.

      Instead of judging, please use that time to say a little prayer: if not for people like us, then at least of gratitude for your own better fortune. Thank you for reading, and may God Help and Bless everyone here.

  6. says

    Im glad you shared this. Im on them not because I want to. But I set aside my pride and got them when My income took a nose dive and my kids had to eat . Ive always paid my taxes , Ive always worked . But after leaving a marriage of 16 yrs and starting back off new. we had to survive.
    Im looking forward to the day I can say im off them .
    hugs!

  7. says

    I don’t comment here often enough but just wanted to tell you what a great post this is. Big congrats to you and thank you for making me think more critically about this

  8. says

    Oh gosh, it sounds very rough to have to brace yourself for that stigma when life is already knocking you around a fair bit. So are food stamps the kind of assistance that outlives receiving a time limited cash benefit from the government for unemployment? The final safety net? You have made me very grateful that, so far, except in some limited programs the social security system here is given as money and discounts on major bills like utilities and car registration. It does come up now and then that this should be changed because people “rort” the system but it seems like it is worth having an element of that, than to demoralise those needing a hand every time they need to buy food.

  9. says

    I love, love, love this post. Thank you, D. for the friendly reminder to the world to have a little less judgment and a little more kindness and compassion.

    I work in human services in a capital city and every few years or so, people pull out that nasty world WELFARE and try to make a massive deal out of all of the WASTE and FRAUD and ABUSE that occurs within it and how they are going to single-handedly smoke it out and be a hero for saving the state and its taxpayers from all of these [insert incredibly racist misogynist and classist stereotypes that are never said but less than subtly implied but are, more importantly, untrue] who are gaming the system.

    For the most part, people have no idea who around them need state-sponsored benefits, and they usually have no idea that those benefits are managed by the Welfare dept.

    I was tempted to pull out some stats there, but I’m not going to hijack your post, because it rocks in its own right and is made even better by comments like f’s.

    Go you. You rock. I hope you already knew that.

  10. says

    Well written! We had WIC for a while for my daughter (and me, while breastfeeding) and your scenarios sound familiar.

    Congrats for being off them, and thank you for your honesty and sincerity!

    At my local grocery store, I saw a cahsier (just off duty) paying for her groceries with EBT. To myself, I thought, what a sad economy where the person selling my food can’t even afford to buy it. Minimum wage is WAY too low for the cost of living where I live.

    I JUST posted about grocery shopping… come check it out!

    lilfamily13.blogspot.com

  11. cissy says

    If you only knew how long it took me to convince a freind to apply for them. She has never needed public assistance, but she lost her job and hasn’t been able to find another. Well she got the stamps and went to a grocery store in her neighborhood and the young mail cashier asked “cash or credit” and she held up her EBT card and the kid said loudly, ” Oh food stamps”. She burst into tears because she new he did that on purpose to embarrass her to the others in line.

    I dragged back to that store the next day to talk to the store manager and *I* cut that kid a new one.

  12. says

    Please, plaster this post in as many places as you can. I know too many people who are judgmental of people who pull out an EBT card, and like everything in life, you can’t know what’s going on in some random person’s life in the grocery check out line.

    And f? My favorite comeback to the “gaming the system” comment ever.

  13. says

    I was on food stamps for the first 3 years of J and I’s life. It was bittersweet being able to no longer depend on them, but it was a blessing when I had them. I’ve felt a lot of general “stupid people on welfare” judgements. Most people do not abuse the system, and use it as it’s intended. I was on welfare and food stamps so I could finish my last two years of college, with a child in tote.

    Kudos for you for being in a place to no longer depend on them. You can do it mama!

  14. Heather says

    A friend of mine posted an offenisive cartoon about being on assistance to her Facebook wall recently. We went back and forth about it but I couldn’t convince her why it was offensive. I think that most people just don’t realize how little it takes these days for things to go south. I would imagine too that there are many people who need assistance who don’t ask for it because they are afraid of the judgment. Great post and congrats!

    • Charlotte says

      We staggered back home after a long, drawn-out custody battle in a foreign country, with no assets left. I had developed an illness which involved a lot of internal bleeding, and to make matters worse, I already had a hernia and half my already-dwindled-due-to-outsourcing-and-automation-of-my-profession income was taken out from under me, suspended for 2 years, with no compensation. This, after we’d signed a rental agreement and put tthe kids in a school. Food stamps have made it easier for us to get by, but I hate using them because of the stink eye that clerks and others will give you when you use the blasted card. I’d like to wear a sign that says “I am not fat – I have an unrepaired huge hernia from childbirth, and have to take prednisone for an illness, which puts weight on no matter how little I eat, and I work as hard as you do, even on weekends and evenings if the work is there to do”. I’d like to say “I am getting some of these groceries for another person who will be paying me for them, so they are not fancy things for me”. I’d like to say “this shirt looks new to you perhaps, but it was 50 cents in a bag sale at Goodwill”. I’d like to say “my 7-year-old car is in a lot better shape than the 15-year-old ones we had before I lost my work”. There are all these things. People make so many assumptions about you. They think we can’t see it on their faces.

  15. says

    An excellent post. Very important points brought up here and all the more poignant for being written from experience. Congratulations for getting your family past the need for food stamps even though, as you say, no big deal.

  16. says

    Great post Dresden. We don’t have food stamps here but we have “income management” which is more or less the same thing (a portion of your benefit is redirected to a “Basics Card” which can only be used to buy food and other essentials). At the moment it’s being used in remote indigenous communities and is slowly being rolled out to areas of high welfare use. Welfare is a complicated issue here where we have a very generous social safety net and high levels of what is usually called “middle class welfare”. Basically anyone with children qualifies for some level of government assistance unless they are very very wealthy. Income management is a highly stigmatising strategy however it does have supporters and has been welcomed by many in indigenous communities. One day “income management” will find its way to me and I’ll get to experience that stigma first hand. Thanks for sharing your experiences here, it gives me plenty of food for thought.

  17. Kate says

    Wonderful post. There are many reasons for someone to be on stamps or WIC. There should be no shame.

    When we were foster parents, our placements were on WIC. They qualified because they were considered a “household of one with no income”. Since they couldn’t drive themselves to the store, I was in charge of making their purchases. So yes, I’ve been looked up and down with contempt. Poop on them.

  18. says

    One of my staunch Republican “entitlement mentality” “having more babies to get more welfare” coworkers is married to someone who had a baby when she was just out of college. She was working for minimum wage part time at a Hallmark store. And she was on WIC. One of my other coworkers used to remind him of that whenever he goes on an ignorant rant.

    I wince a lot in the grocery store – but mostly at what people are buying, not how they’re buying it. If I see a card come out, I feel a bit of sympathy. And I see equal parts EBT and the unemployment debit cards.

  19. says

    Thank you for writing this post. It expresses everything I’ve thought about food stamps and those who need any assistance, and you’ve written it in such an eloquent way!

  20. says

    Thank God for food stamps and other services that many in my family and myself have benefited from. As someone who manages the finances of a relative on food stamps and disability I can tell you that relatives needs them and because I help support the person, we need it.

    The help helps. It was it is supposed to do.

  21. Pamala says

    I was the one with the designer purse, a gift, and the fancy phone. What people didn’t know was my hubby had left me with no money and I was a SAHM. Let them judge! I was never embarrassed because I knew I was doing what needed to be done to survive.

  22. Amara says

    Yep, I’ve been one who complains, I’ll admit it. And I don’t mind people who are dressed well needing help, I needed help myself before. It’s the ones covered in gold jewelry, with smart phones, and driving SUV’s that bother me. It’s the long timers who have more children (and fully admit it out loud) so that they can get more benefits that bother me. It runs rampant here. I have a heart, if people need help, I’m all for it, but I’ve seen it abused so much here that its hard for me to watch it go on. I’ve gone without food many a time, had to have my son go to his dads so that he could eat. I do see both sides.

    • Natalie says

      I will admit that I have a hard time watching people I know spend money on things I consider non-essentials, or incredibly expensive organic food while on EBT or very limited personal funds. However, it isn’t my place to judge their decisions. I think it is important to understand that the SUV a person is driving might be the only car they have, or that they are so underwater on it that they can’t get anything else. I live in a rural area, and without a car getting to the grocery would take a day and a half. The other thing that I really want to point out is that more than half of all women will experience an unintended pregnancy. Many women receiving assistance for food do not know that they qualify for birth control assistance. I have seen many women who are experiencing unintended pregnancy who had know idea that they could get reliable birth control for free. My experience has never been women trying to have more babies to stay on the system, it is has always been a lack of ability to prevent more babies. Please don’t tell me women should remain abstinent. We all deserve to feel good.

      • Cecilia says

        I just had to reply because of the comment about organic food. I am on food stamps and only buy organic food. I am raising a grandson who has ADHD, ODD and Autism spectrum. The artificial ingredients in processed food and the pesticides makes his behavior so much worse even on meds. Yes everything is organic but very little is processed. I buy no processed foods even organic processed. I make my own jams, jellies, soup, bread, cookies etc… you name it. It is all made with 100% organic ingredients. So at our house it is whole food. Not processed. Eating a organic whole foods diet is cheaper in the long run and I know exactly what is in it with no worries that it will add to the issues my grandson has.

        • Dawn B says

          Thank you for saying that, Cecilia. We had to go on food stamps when my husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor and could no longer work and I had to cut down on my at-home business to take care of him. At first, I was mortified and ashamed, and a lot of it had to do with the ignorant and judgmental mentality of our society. But then I got over that, and I figure the more I talk about it, the more chance there is of helping to educate others about the actual reality involved for many. I buy only organic as well, and I’m glad you made the point about it being cheaper than buying processed or pre-made non-organic food. We’re basically on doctor’s orders to buy organic because so much evidence links pesticides and other chemicals in our food to cancer. Plus, we’re the only country that spends so little of our money on groceries because it’s grown in such a weird, mega-corporate way that is NOT healthy for us or the animals and plants we eat. If I have to devote a little more of my budget to make sure my husband eats well, you better believe I will. And like you, I make my own bread, soup, everything. It is fresh and I know what’s in it. I don’t have control over a lot of what my husband has to go through with his horrible disease, but I do have control over making sure he has good nutrition. And since the very building blocks of all our cells are based on the food we eat, it makes perfect sense to eat organic healthy food so that our cells are healthy and cancer free.

  23. says

    first, hooray for you and your family!

    this is such an important post. I’m so glad you wrote it and shared it.

    there are some areas where more people are on assistance than not. and there are others where it’s all you described and worse. it’s nothing to be ashamed of, and yet. such judgment, it’s horrible.

    there is a calif. representative taking the food stamp challenge. I’d like to hear her raise more awareness among her colleagues in DC about her experience.

    thanks for sharing this one. xo

  24. Jenn says

    Thanks for Sharing this! First of all YAY on your first month without them! :D Growing up my family needed food stamps for awhile. My parents did not continue to have kids to get more money, my dad took whatever work he could get, my mom as well. How dare anyone judge someone else. I try my best in life to just pay attention to my own life and keep my nose out of others… It is no ones place to judge anyone else. Unless you know that person personally and you know they are scamming the system shut up! Focus more on your life than others and what they spend their money on. Just because people do not have money does not mean they do not deserve to eat, or keep things they might have already had before their life turned south financially.

  25. says

    Yeah, Vermont’s really good on helping people. Unfortunately there are a lot of folks from out of state who move here to take advantage…something I don’t appreciate at all. And I speak as somone on WIC, VHAP, & Dr Dynosaur.

  26. says

    This post gave me chills. Well done, Dresden: the post, the hard work, the honesty, all of it.
    This was a gread reminder and primer, even though I do try very hard to remind myself that we never know someone else’s situation in all aspects of life and to be gentle in my thoughts and actions.

  27. Devon says

    Food Stamps, welfare is a great system for the people who need it, if I ever need I will surely take advantage of it. Sometimes I feel as though my family should qualify, but we do not. Where I live many many people are on food stamps, and there are some that are probably abusing it. Like the man I was behind the other day with his daughter, who had 2 carts one for the items he could purchase with food stamps, then the other for the other items, when it was time to pay for those he pulled out a huge wad of cash, there had to have been at least 1000.00 dollars in that roll. With that amount of money in his pocket how is he eligible for food stamps?…I don’t even have that much in the bank- Scenarios like that are what leaves people questioning the system.

    Congratulations to you!

    • Britney says

      Being in this situation right now, I can tell you where that $1000 came from. His paycheck. He probably had to cash it instead of depositing it because he doesn’t have a bank account in good standing. Happened to my husband when his income dropped 50% and his account went into default and we didn’t have the money to get back above $0, so it was closed. That could have been the only $1000 he had for the month to pay bills, etc. My point is, and like the article points out, you never know what’s going on in someone’s life.

  28. manannie oakley says

    You are, quite simply, phenomenal. I am so blessed to know you. This post is so very powerful and I share in the sentiment that it should be posted publicly in every grocery store at every checkout counter.

    I know the long hours you have put in and the hard work you have done to get yourself and your family to this point. How freeing this must feel. Love you.

  29. chrystal says

    I’m sure you hear this a lot, but thank you. my own family (inlaws) belittle us for using food stamps. They never ask or accept if I offer to bring something to a family meal. They make choices for my family without asking us if we can afford it–they usually assume we shouldn’t be spending money on “extras” like a family member’s birthday dinner. Most of the time we aren’t invited. it does hurt, and it makes me feel ashamed. thank you for your post, and congratulations, from the bottom of my heart, for achieving self-sufficiency once again. :)

    • Momoftwo says

      My In-laws are the same. We are not invited to events, we asked to bring a food item- it’s either no, or when we get there with something it’s put in another room. Please do not feel ashamed. It’s your in-laws should be ashamed of how they are treating you.

  30. Kay says

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    My family has been on food stamps for almost five years. Why? We are under-employed. My husband works hard every day and a job where he makes a fraction of what they pay for that skill in other states. People ask, why don’t you look for another job? Does going on three job interviews a week for the last month qualify? What about the job offer that involves more responsibility, but pays less?

    And, every six months, I have to fill out the forms for medicare and food stamps, just so my kids get insurance and have food. People don’t get it. And the judgement simply hurts.

  31. Gigi says

    Thank you for sharing this. It made a huge difference in my day.
    Thank you for being so courageous and hard working. Thank you for being here

  32. says

    AMEN! I wish more people had this train of thought! I’m sick of people saying “that person paid with food stamps and bought steaks then got in a brand new vehicle.” How the heck do you know that vehicle was theirs? So what if it was! Another thing? Is a person on food stamps expected to eat ramen?

  33. Jessica @FoundtheMarbles says

    Thanks so much for openly sharing your story and your observations with us. This is such a raw and thought provoking post.

  34. says

    LOVE, love, love this! It’s so rare to hear someone talking articulately about this subject without sliding into one ditch or another…over-judgmental or over-justifying. Super CONGRATS on getting off food stamps–I am working my butt off to get our own family to this point!

    My fav quote is this one: “Because, guess what, we don’t know what is up in this woman’s life. We don’t know her beginning, middle, where she is now.” Everyone has a story and struggle…if we only knew we’d never, ever judge!

    Great to meet you (via a tweet) and look forward to reading more from you too. ~Elise~

  35. says

    As a dietitian, I am so angry with the folks that don’t know how many children depend on these programs.

    At one point I had to feed 3 people on $35-50 a week. We didn’t qualify for food stamps or WIC. Since my job is working with food procurement, food programs and cooking education, I could do it. Also, I had a refrigerator, a full kitchen with appliances and gadgets, and a freezer.

    Try getting by without a frig or a method of heating outside of a microwave. It is either expensive or really difficult. Many households have one parent who has to either teach or make all of the food. When you have lost your job or are juggling kids and a couple of jobs it takes a while to get yourself adjusted. Planning ahead may be almost impossible.

    Please write to your representatives and senators and tell them how you feel about these programs. Those of us on the front line of keeping communities fed need your help.

    Thanks for bringing this to the general public in such a intimate, accessible way.

  36. says

    This post really touches my heart as someone who was on government aid for a few long years. I wish that I could carry a card that explained my circumstances to people who judged me. If they walked in my shoes during that time, some people would choose other ways to live instead of trying to get my life back on track the honest way.

    I’ll never forget the upheaval that my WIC card caused because of the time the cashier had to take. It was the week after my sister had died, my husband was jobless and my baby was 3 months old. I’d give anything in the world to not be there.

  37. says

    I love your comment about the designer purse and the judgement she may receive for paying with food stamps. It is a great reminder to all that we should never judge someone by their items. These are just items. And you’re right, we don’t know her beginning, middle and end. We have no clue. All we know is where she is now. Thank you for your honest and beautiful post. I’m happy for you.

  38. says

    Although I’m sorry for all that you’ve gone through over the past few years, I am grateful that these mechanisms existed to help you, and also grateful that you’ve written so eloquently about them and have been able to educate so many people. Your post about WIC way-back-when really opened my eyes.

    And along the lines of the humiliation, I was just reading about Dickens-era workhouse diets (a la Oliver Twist’s gruel) and how the diets were specifically made horrible to discourage people from using public assistance. Makes me wonder if the same rationale is at work with EBT — if it can make people feel ashamed enough, maybe they won’t use it anymore. I’m not normally a conspiracy theorist, but really, I wouldn’t put it past ‘em.

  39. says

    Congrats on your first month off! May you always be doing well enough to never need benefits again. :)

    Thank you for this post. We’re not in a great situation* right now. We’re on WIC but I’ve been too ashamed to apply for food stamps, and that’s going to have to change soon. I really appreciate you speaking out about it.

    *My husband and I moved in with my mother in 2009 because we all needed help with expenses. Mom lost her job in 2010 and was only able to get part-time work to replace it but is now unemployed again. My husband’s hours are capped at part-time at his job. I had to leave work for bed rest while pregnant and was only able to get my job back part-time as well. And none of us have had any luck yet with finding more work.

  40. Jill says

    We judge others all the time. It’s a sick little defense mechanism to keep ourselves from addressing our own shortcomings.
    So what if the fat lady in line at the ice cream parlor orders a large hot fudge sundae? So what if yoou pay for your groceries with an EBT card? We need to mind our own business and start paying attention to how our civil rights are being eroded by the scumbuckets in Congress.

  41. says

    great post, as always.
    when we were struggling, i could not get past my OWN mental judegment to get the help we probably needed at that time – had i read something like this at that time, i would have felt a lot better.

  42. says

    it’s post like this that made me just proud to know you…to have sat in the same room with you. I also know that in this economy, in the climate of my current financial place that we might be just a paycheck or two away from needing the help of others, maybe that is why my heart is so big and empathetic to people and their situations. It’s not an excuse, it’s not judgement, it’s understanding.
    YOu said it so well.

    I’m so glad that things are going well for you right now, your time and talent, your presence is such a beautiful thing in our blogging universe.

  43. says

    Awesome, awesome post. THANK YOU. i am bookmarking to remember how clearly you put many of these ideas, which i find myself sputtering over trying to get across in moronic debates.

    i agree with much of what’s already been said here; the irritation that is the moral hazard argument (if we give people X, they’ll have no incentive to Y) as applied to EATING ENOUGH FOOD is particularly upsetting. even if everyone on food stamps is an awful, lazy, horrible person (and of course that’s a ridiculous idea, but stay with me), what good does it do to take away their FOOD? we don’t punish children that way anymore because it is pointless and mean. what kind of a people punish their neighbors like that?

    wait! wrong soapbox!

    what i meant to say is something i didn’t notice come up in earlier comments: these programs are not about benefiting poor people. i mean, yes, that’s part of the deal, but feeding the poor was not and is not the principle reason these programs were created and are maintained. food entitlement programs — food stamps, subsidized milk at school, school lunch, etc. — were created as farm subsidies.

    the price of farm goods was too erratic in the open market, so these programs came about as a means to allow the government to guarantee farmers certain prices for their goods. we can go around and around about whether that’s a good idea (and what it has to do with how “badly” Those People eat), but it is important to keep in mind, i think, that no matter how many people do or don’t cheat at food stamps, the program’s goals have already been met.

    …which, of course, is why poor people are routinely praised in congress for helping to support the american farmer, whose need for subsidy and big government is looked on with suspicion and disapproval. oh, wait….

  44. says

    I grew up poor. And not “cute” poor. It was the poor where we had no address, no heat, no water, and no food for many loooooooong periods of my childhood. I’m quite sensitive to poverty issues, and I thank you for writing this blog. What’s funny, though, is that has taken me most of my adulthood to be sensitive to poverty issues, even though I grew up homeless-poor. Why? Because I knew way, way too many people that WERE scamming the gov’t for foodstamps. Sure, they needed them, but why they needed them was the embarrassing part. I knew moms who lied on paperwork and said the father of their babies wasn’t living with them so they could get more money. Meanwhile, he IS living there, eating the food meant for the babies, working and drinking all his money. It’s things like that that make you lose faith in people. My grandparents (who raised me) were very honest, hardworking people (when they could get work) but they never, ever stole so much as a piece of bread. So I grew up with little tolerance for those who did think it was okay to rip other people off.

    But I know that there are good people in the world, and I believe the best in most people now. I still can’t get over my food-stamp aversion (for myself) however. The state called me last year and told me I qualified for WIC (my husband and I are both students with three kids.) I told them thanks but no thanks. We had a nice sized tax return sitting in savings to buy us food. I’ll let the state keep the WIC money there for the people who really do need it.

  45. says

    You should do a follow-up post on all the things you can’t buy with assistance funds, like tampons, pads, toilet paper, infant and adult OTC medications, dish soap…

  46. laura says

    Your post really made me think… mainly because I could see myself judging someone with food stamps and a designer purse. Thank you for calling me out. I really hadn’t thought of all the alternatives you spelled out and how thinking poorly of her is saying “she is not worthy of it”. We hear so much about the scamming stories because they get people riled up. But you are right – we don’t know their situation, their experiences. And it is not okay to judge people in that way. For every scammer there are probably hundreds of families who are just trying to get by. Thanks

  47. Mergath says

    We were on food stamps for the last couple of years because my husband could not find a job no matter how hard he tried. And my daughter was often clothed in head-to-to Ralph Lauren or Calvin Klein. Why? Because everything she wore came from the thrift store. We live in a fairly affluent area, and you can get bagfuls of fancy labels at the thrift stores here for a few bucks. I can’t count the enraged glares I got in the grocery line when I pulled out my card while my well-dressed daughter watched from the cart seat. Yeah, my daughter’s hoodie might have originally cost more than my car is now worth, but I paid a buck for it.

    My husband now has a good job, thankfully, but I’m glad we went through what we did. It taught us a lot, especially about judgement.

  48. says

    Wow it’s never really occurred to me to pay attention to how the person in front of me is paying for their stuff. I’m usually too busy worrying about my coupons and how the people behind ME are judging ME for coupons! LOL! So maybe there’s a tip for you– if you want to avoid the chance of being judged by people in the grocery line hope you get a couponer behind you! :)

    Congrats on not qualifying anymore by the way. YAY

  49. Anne Non says

    This was a great post. Thank you for sharing. The designer purse bit really struck me. I dislike when people judge over crap like that. Who knows if it’s a gift or a lucky find! Maybe even it was a loved one’s purse who recently passed on. :(

    I often shop at second-hand stores and other low-cost places (though I do avoid Walmart) because it’s cheap AND you can find high quality items without paying a ton. It’s sad how people will wear an item once (or not even) then throw it out or donate. $6 for a shirt that would have sold for $30 in Zellers last week. Hmm!

  50. says

    This is totally true. A friend told me one day to check out food stamps because I might qualify. I struggle every month to buy my food and pay my rent, but still I was incensed at the mere thought that I, a person with a masters degree, might need food stamps. Reality set in, though, and I decided to check, just to see. Well, I checked and by an insanely small margin, I didn’t qualify. My first thought was, “Hell, if I don’t qualify, the people on them must really REALLY need them!” It changed my whole perspective. I think if you’ve never been in the position to consider food stamps, it’s one of those things the world doesn’t expect you to attempt to empathize with. BUT WE SHOULD. Life can take crazy turns. You never know what could lead to you needing to use food stamps. But if you qualify then you need them. End of story.

  51. says

    My sister was eligible for food stamps after her husband’s sudden death, leaving her with a six-month-old baby and huge educational debt. My ex-boyfriend from high school’s family was on food stamps (three kids) after he was downsized, and then told he was overqualified for other similar jobs. Another good friend from high school (also 3 kids) has been working full-time and over-time in social work and their family qualifies for food stamps. College educated, all of them, confluences of events beyond their control, a safety net when they needed it. No shame in that at all.

  52. Alexicographer says

    Amen.

    You know, and I speak from ignorance as someone’s who’s not done a “challenge” nor relied on SNAP (but hey, Medicaid pays for my dad’s nursing home; I rely on the tax savings connected to my health care costs, my retirement savings, and my mortgage; and we’re planning to enroll my son in public schools as soon as he’s old enough so please don’t imagine I’m not getting government benefits. Indeed, I’ll bet my mortgage deduction alone — and our house is a modest one by our local standards and financed at a good rate — costs the government more each year than your SNAP ever did), I have no problem with the “challenge” if it’s used as a tool for grasping how difficult it is to get by on the SNAP budget, and if those doing it acknowledge the ways in which what they are doing is less difficult than the typical SNAP recipient’s experience (for example, even working with the same budget constraint, having an extant, stocked pantry and seasonings and a comfortably equipped kitchen facilitates preparing tasty meals with inexpensive ingredients). But even then, right. If I gave everything I owned away tomorrow and went to, say, Somalia to help those there with the horrible conditions they are facing and I survived and lived among them many years and settled down and became “part” of the local culture, negotiating all the hardships they do? Well, as long as I still had my US passport, I’d never be truly walking in their shoes, no matter how worthwhile my intentions and my actions.

    • Been There says

      This is exactly what is wrong with politicians “playing” poor for a few days or a week. Food stamps don’t go very far when you live miles from a real grocery store and don’t own a car. It’s also really hard to cook fresh/healthy/cheap when your “home” is a motel room, complete with mini-fridge and microwave-if you’re lucky.
      If our State and National policy-makers want to really understand poverty, they need to actually LIVE it, not just play GAMES.

  53. says

    Oh honey, I’ve been in those shoes. I didn’t qualify for food stamps but I qualified for WIC and man was it tough dealing with the judgment. {{{Hugs}}}

  54. MissEllie says

    Praises for your post!
    I myself encountered circumstances that left me no alternative but to seek state help.
    1) husband abandoned me and the kids to run off with younger fluff.
    2) resulting in us losing our home and belongings.
    3) had to scramble and look for employment and take whatever was available at that given time.
    4) wasn’t enough to pay for utilities, clothing, gas, non-food items, medicinals.
    5) what mother willingly wants to send their child to school have crazed with hunger only to come home and be hungry even more?
    6) that set up the scenario for me to desperately seek public assistance.
    7) do I even need to go into humiliating detail about what little food I did have left, I rationed it out to my 3 kids and I myself was left to go hungry.
    Going to human services was a blessing in my circumstance. I had enough assemblance to bring with me all possible paperwork and documentations that would be needed to put me and my kids on food stamps and cash-aid. The social worker herself could see that here I was a mom, abandoned, desperate for some type of help to feed my children. I cannot even begin to tell you how humbling it was to sit and cry to a complete stranger that I felt I have failed as a parent to the point that I cannot even feed and provide for kids my properly. Her compassion and kindness will forever remain in my heart. One of her foremost questions was: “Now Momma, when last did YOU eat?” She made sure all the services my family qualified for, were provided to us.
    Indeed people will always judge another, never having a first-hand idea of what that person has gone through or is experiencing. I never thought I would ever be at poverty’s door at age 51! Homeless and broke. I still say to myself: “How did we get here, and why?”
    I think about the comment about the lady with food stamps and her designer purse. She could have owned it before things got really tough, it could have been a gift, a great thrift-store buy, even better…it could be a great knock-off! One just doesn’t know, do they?
    Everyday I pray that things will get better…one doesn’t have to seek foreign lands to find poverty and destitution. It is right here at our own front door here in the U.S. Not all who seek help, are hapless. I do not consider my assistance a hand-out. I have to show full accountability of my life and lifestyle on a monthly basis. It’s like reporting to the commissioner, but to me for now, it is the least of my sorrowful existence.

  55. Denver Laura says

    I’m a foster parent. We have WIC checks that specify exactly what can be bought. One check for $6 of vegetables. Another check for 2 gallons of milk, 1 pound of cheese, 2 cans of beans and 32 oz. of whole grains. I cannot deviate from the check. I have to ring up my groceries twice or more if I have 3 checks. One for the WIC checks, one for my groceries. Designer purse, maybe (I buy thrift). Nice car, probably. Child deduction from the IRS? Nope! We haven’t had a kid stay with us longer than 3 months, and we’ve “met capacity” for the last year. It takes 180 days to be eligible for a deduction. The WIC checks are small but $100 of formula really helps.

    I tend to go to the same checkout lady. She doesn’t judge, she’s quick and knows how to deal with the checks. People should mind their own business.

  56. becky says

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It is the worst feeling in the world when you feel like you cant feed your family, especially when you have children. I hate the stigmas that go along with having food stamps, but I am so thankful for the opportunity to feed my family, especially during the holiday season!

  57. Pam says

    I had a hard time checking into assistance because I thought others may look down on us.. but my husband had lost his job and I had just been put on medical leave because I was pregnant and could not take my medication for my narcolepsy. I finally realized that this type of situation was exactly what assistance was meant to be used for… as a stepping stone to get to a better place and to be able to stand on our own. With 2 small children and one on the way, we didn’t have a choice but to apply and accept the help. I didn’t realize how much a family of 5 could actually make and still qualify for wic. 40-50,000 or something like that. We may have qualified when we were both working full time since my hubby’s job was not a high paying one. He looked for a job weekly for over a year and a half and in August started working full time… we are on our way to standing on our own and have very little assistance and it is a nice feeling. Congratulations on using the system for what it is for and for making it out on the other side.

  58. C3lticN1nja says

    I just wanted to say that I personally know people that scam the system. In Nebraska, the state gives you all the aid you need if you are a single mom, so many girls get pregnant right out of high school and apply for benefits that include: housing, ebt, gas for work, a vehicle if you don’t have one, free medical/dental care from Medicaid and gas/electric assistance. All of these girls also have their baby daddy living with them and adding money to their pockets.

    • C3lticN1nja says

      I would also like to say that my mom is currently on ebt because my dad ran off with all of their assets. I don’t judge people on assistance unless I know they’re abusing it.

  59. Lidian says

    Over the years one or more of my family has been on food stamps. They got me and my children out of some serious scrapes over the years. Now my children are grown and each has had to use them at one time or another. Just recently my daughter finally had enough money come into the house with the help of her partner and they no longer need them. Yep I will smile and treat those in the line in front of me just like I would anyone. No distinctions should ever be made. Even though there are some who abuse the system most people are honest and only use what they “NEED” so be kind.

  60. shortmama says

    I personally know how fast things can change for a person having lost my job as the main breadwinner in my family this July. We haven’t had to do food stamps yet but the kids are on reduced price lunches and I’m so grateful for the school staff who show no judgement about my kids or me. I’m working very part time and have a designer purse – I’ll know what to hide if we ever need to go on food stamps!

  61. Alex Lima says

    Great post.
    A few years ago I went to a credit counseling session , the one you are required before you can apply for bankruptcy.
    It is a free session with a county counselor.
    She made a comment how well dressed I was.
    I was completely judged on that. I went on to tell her that only my bra and underwear , which were very old, were the only things purchased new years ago. My pants, shoes, top and jacked were all either goodwill or freecycle.
    Do I have to look like a hobo to be broke and need to go bankrupt?
    Amazing.

  62. Shawn says

    I also love when the cashier loudly says “food stamps” when you’re checking out, and you have handed them your card….REALLY? It is hard enough on a person’s pride knowing how judgmental people can be , and the fact that I need assistance even though I work a full time job and have a 4 year college degree but they have to advertise this to everyone. And for the lady who has the “purse” good for her. I will admit I have a number of expensive material items myself which I have purchased when I can… this STILL

    • Shawn says

      sorry I accidentally pushed enter… like I was saying… even without buying these items for my children so that they have the things other kids would like I STILL qualify for food assistance. I am a tax payer too THEREFORE I feel like I am getting back what I put in.

    • Dean says

      I really like those self-checkouts, nobody can stand behind you, they have to wait at the sign. You don’t have to speak to anyone. I’m thinking about making stickers to disguise the EBT card as a debit card, so even the sharpest eye can’t tell.

  63. says

    Preach it girl! Good for you!!! I started on WIC when I was pregnant w/my second son, I was only working part time and my husband got laid off. But I agree, at first especially, I felt ashamed in the check-out lines. A few times I was treated like a lower class citizen, which was humiliating. But then I figured, who the heck cares what anyone thinks?! I need the assistance and I was SO GLAD for it.

  64. says

    Thank you for posting such a great article and congratulations on your increased income. Funny how people forget human kindness and tend to choose judgment. Even when we can easily assume that the judgment comes from fear- those really deep seated fears that we have about our own safety and security, ones that we could choose to feel relief from at the very idea that food stamps exist (our families will not go hungry- is there anything to be more thankful for?)- it’s hard to be on the receiving end of it. Knowing how hard things were when my family was just above the income line to get WIC, really struggling to pull together the funds to feed us all, keep the rent paid and the heat on…. it’s hard to believe that people can be so critical when it really wouldn’t take much to put most of them in the same circumstance.

  65. Alex says

    I actually *know* the story of the “hobo-themed wedding”, as I’m a friend of one of the people who was in the wedding party. When it comes to judgment being everywhere? Yeah, the whole debacle surrounding the wedding of really decent, good, and at times, people who have been quite poor themselves is a sterling example of that.

    Maybe it’s time to retire that “story”, sense it offensively holds good people up as legendary internet “bad guys”. That is, if you’re not into judgment. Just sayin’.

  66. Robin says

    I once witnessed this first hand at a Super Walmart. I was next in line when a man trying to purchase food with WIC picked up the wrong type of milk. After he left, she said to me “I’m sick of dealing with these stupid WIC people”. She said it to the WRONG person as I work for a church. It was all I could do not to jump over the counter and throttle her. I reported her rudeness to the store manager.

  67. Jack Noxious says

    Great post. My partner used WIC immediately after our son was born. Why? Because she qualified. Best of luck.

    • says

      You make it sound so easy Pat – sell the designer bag? I’ve done that – depends on the bag, but let’s be generous and say you be $100 for it at no expense to you. Awesome – that’s one week of groceries down. But, you still didn’t find a job in that one week so now you are broke again. Sell the car? Now, be realistic would you? Without a car how do you get your kids to school or the doctor or even go to the store? OK, let’s say public transportation in your town is FABULOUS! and that you have some really awesome way of carting your groceries home on the bus while juggling your kids/strollers. NOW WHAT??!!!

      Are you saying that the ONLY people who should EVER be on Public Assistance first have to have NOTHING? No personal belongings of any value, no car, AND no job?

      Sigh…….

      • Momoftwo says

        I agree with you Christina-

        Shame on you Pat.

        Until you need help please keep those comments to yourself. Or how about not comment at all if you are going to be disrespectful. Did you not read the article above? We are not bad people because we need help.

      • Nadine says

        I agree with you Christine.Comments like Pat’s gets to me.We are only asking for assistant to get back on our feet. If we qualify then so be it. We do still deserve to hang on to what we worked hard for. Things happened unexpectely .What are we supposed to say to our kids? “Sorry kids we had to sell our tv for food”? Come on!!

    • Tyger says

      Instead of kicking women, children, and the disabled when they are down over some measly food stamps; why not take that negativity and direct it toward the government for BAILING OUT THE BANKS(!!!!!), not to mention corporations that close their eyes against the concept of equal pay for equal work despite gender, or other sex discrimination on the job that might have brought us all here to begin with?? But, I guess it’s easier to pick on the weak and defenseless than it is to try and go up against the big guys, the REAL REASONS for this country’s woes, and why there is such high unemployment rates and so much poverty! But, the **banks** that got the bailouts (* in other countries, they threw the bankers in jail instead of bailing them out, as they should have here, too!), after the temerity to charge diabolical interest rates, do you complain about that?Do you even know about it?Or do you just like to troll boards and act rude because you can’t think of something intelligent or helpful to add to the conversation? Just remember this one word, Pat: KARMA. What you give to others, ALWAYS comes back to you. One day it might be YOU in that health and welfare office, ENDURING a person like you’ve shown yourself to be here!

    • Monique says

      I have sold all but one bag, all of my jewelry except a set of earrings, after selling my car we have one car given to us by my husbands dad after his death im in school pregnant and work part time and my husband works about 60 hours a week. Constantly filling out job apps and going on interviews. Still paying off doctors and hospital bills from when our first was born because we didnt qualify for any assistance. Have paid for all medical bills since out of pocket. Rent, food (w/ coupons), lights, mandatory apartment insurance, water, heat, car insurance we do that every month. So when it got to the point that we had to choose between food and gas for driving to and from school and work we chose gas and applied for assistance. Had we sold our car we would have only gotten enough for groceries for that month and the rest would have went to public transportation for maybe a month. Whats the point if we would then turn around a month or so later and still be in the same situation, struggling. We would have no way to get every where we have to go between doctors appointments classes work and sitters. I have went months without meds for my asthma allergies and eczema to make sure my children can eat. Stayed up halfway through the night trying to catch my breath. I make lotions soaps and chapsticks from scratch because its cheaper for me to make it than to spend 180 bucks on a tube of meds that only lasts 2 to 3 weeks mind you both of my children have eczema and allergies as well. Whenever i can i make cleaning products from every day household items to avoid buying them. We dont have cable internet or phone right now we go to and from work and school and take the kids out to the park or nature trails or whatever else is free. Our families financials took a turn for the worst last year and we as parents went nights without food to make sure the kids were fed. A few days without power because it was more important not to get evicted. It wasnt until I unexpectedly got pregnant (while using protection) recently that we figured it be best to accept some help. We qualify for a whole lot more but only accept medicaid and ebt. Before september of last year we lived pretty ok, pay check to pay check but bills were paid and the kids were fed. When we had a few extra dollars we added to savings and or took the kids out for a good time, im sorry whats date night?? We did what we had to do to avoid getting to where we are now and now we are trying everything to get back to normal. So I did a lot more than your ignorant sell the bag and car post to feed my children. I have sacrificed everything including my health to feed my children. You and people like you are the reason why threads like this even exist. Keep your ignorant comments to yourself. I mean did you really think about what you wrote before clicking post??

  68. Simone says

    Thank you for bearing your inner-soul and paying it forward. Try to volunteer with a foodbank nonprofit in your area and share your story with the media…start small and go big with your blessings. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  69. Suzanne says

    It’s odd to me that people who are willing to shrug off the actions of CEOs who raise a company’s value by laying off employees and cutting corners and then leave with a golden parachute once their actions start to run the company into long term ruin as the way the world works are often the same people who believe that the few who game the system at the bottom of the economic scale (at much less cost to society) are reason enough to end benefits to our fellow humans in need. It’s also annoying how many people forget that we’ve *all* paid into the tax system that pays those benefits – through sales taxes and property taxes (even if you don’t own, your rent’s going to pay the taxes) and payroll taxes when we are fortunate enough to have jobs.

  70. Aras says

    Wow. How self absorbed. So not only do you need help but EVERYONE you encounter needs to make you feel warm and fuzzy about it? How do you know the cashier isn’t really thinking about the fact she needs to pee or perhaps worrying about her child who is home ill? You are sure its all about you and your EBT card?

    Perhaps instead of spending so much worrying what other people are doing we could all go out and engage in some real life. I was sent here by my work which is processing welfare applications. We know the nice purse mean you probably just lost your well paying job. $10 says this woman complained her worker wasn’t nice enough to her.

    • Momoftwo says

      Obviously you haven’t been on FS.
      There is a stigma to that little card. WE are thankful for all the help. But we shouldn’t be treated differently because of that plastic card. Yes, you do get the looks, the rudeness from the cashiers, and comments from customers behind you. She was not saying that every cashier was looking down at her but that some do. And from being on FS myself, there is a certain look and feeling you get from people.

  71. Sterling says

    I’ve had a lot of time to think about appearances and wealth or lack therof lately. My husband and I are both unemployed students, which means we qualify for no state benefits. Because we previously had good jobs prior to moving across the state to go to school, we have a few possessions left that make us look far richer than we are. I was recently gifted a pair of UGG boots by a friend, that I wear to the plasma bank when I make my weekly visits. I’ve had to check my own assumptions as to why people are where they are or why they have what they have; I certainly didn’t imagine my story would be what it is right now.

    Thank you for this post.

  72. Anonymous says

    As someone who works at a food bank, and regularly interacts with families who utilize SNAP benefits, I can understand where you’re coming from (judgement is all around). But you also shouldn’t be so quick to judge those who choose to participate in things like the SNAP Challenge. I can tell you from personal experience, that if it wasn’t for the opportunity to truly walk in the footsteps of those who are hungry, many of our political representatives wouldn’t have so much stake in fighting for such programs. And in a time when many of the government assistance programs are being threatened, it’s important that we open up their eyes in any way possible so that families, and individuals, may continue to receive the help they need until they can get to a better place.

  73. says

    Thank you so, so much for posting this. It made me cry.

    My mother had no choice but to use public assistance for many years during my childhood, while she finished a more practical college degree than an AA in Fashion Merchandising. In the 80s food stamps were a lot more conspicuous (like big colorful Monopoly money looking things) and I clearly remember us shopping early and late in the day, at the most out of the way stores we could to reduce the chance that one of my friends would see us.

    I get absolutely infuriated when I hear judgment from those who’ve never depended on assistance. Particularly the long rants about how those on food stamps/welfare are there because they want to be, or because they’re lazy and it’s the “easier” choice & some sort of care-freaking-free lifestyle. Give me a break. Okay, I’m going to shut up before this becomes a novel;)

    Thank you for this positive, realistic view of what this is about. And for the reminder that most of us are just a few big life events away from having to make these choices ourselves.

  74. says

    I personally know somebody who quit their job so that the family she was living with could get food stamps. There are people who need the benefits, but there are also some people who abuse it and those that abuse it are the reason that people judge the ones on benefits. Food stamps are intended to help people during a rough time, not enable a person who just doesn’t want to work.

  75. says

    such a great post. . .anyone can touch the edge. . .it gets closer to many of us each day. i also enjoyed so many of your readers’ comments. . .loved all the sharing.

    hillary

  76. Andrea says

    Thanks for sharing your story. And congratulations. You’ve made huge strides. Enjoy your new freedom…not just with shopping, but everything!

  77. LoGiC34 says

    I personally agree with giving money for foodstamps, however I think it is irresponsible to have children you can’t afford to feed. With where America is going, those programs are going away… soon. The time where we can expect ANY help from the government is soon to be over, plan accordingly.

  78. says

    Thanks so much for posting this.

    Food Stamps (and yes they were food stamps back when I had to be on them) saved my life. I am an RN, who had to be out of work on medical leave for about 4-6 months. I was currently living in a state that does not pay state disability, and I had almost no sick leave. And as a result, NO income coming in from the time I went on medical leave. It wasn’t an optional situation: I couldn’t physically work. I ended up getting the maximum amount, as I had no income and almost no savings at all.
    I managed. Because I knew how to cook and because I had a well stocked pantry, I did pretty well at extending those benefits as far as they could go.
    I get a bit irritated with the SNAP challenges, although they do give a glimpse into what it is like to be on SNAP. But they aren’t the reality of the situation: to me it is more like play acting.
    As far as being well dressed, and driving a nice car. I wasn’t expecting to have to be on medical leave as I was. I was employed, had a nice job, made a decent salary and was able to afford some nice things. That all ended unexpectedly with my medical emergency that necessitated food stamps and being put on medical leave.
    Yes, I knew it was temporary…so I didn’t go out to sell my car or anything else. I needed my car for when I was able to go back to work, as well as many of the things I had already.
    Thankfully, I only had to be on them for 4 months..but they were indeed a lifesaver.

  79. Momoftwo says

    I wanted to say thank you!
    My family and I have been on food stamps for nearly three years. My husband was laid off while I was giving birth to our daughter three years ago this week. Since then our lives have been turned upside down. Food Stamps have been that constant in our lives that we could count on.

    I know the stigma of being on FS. We mostly go to Winco (a local discount warehouse grocery store) for our shopping but our youngest is allergic to so much that we also have to shop at whole foods for most of her food choices. Every time I am there we are looked at and I have even had comments “why are you buying food here, shouldn’t you be at winco” I cried for hours afterwards. My neighbor saw me once buying food with FS and told the entire neighborhood like was some convict. So thank you for writing this. Sometimes when your on FS you forget that there are others who feel and go through the same things you do and those who have never been on them know that we are just people.

  80. says

    In the interest of awareness, I will share that we have been on food assistance for the two years my husband has been out of work. We have six children so people assume we are just living off the system and always have. Last week, he was offered an excellent job that we are thrilled to have. If not for food assistance, he would have taken any job regardless of whether it was good for us in the long-term. With it, he was able to work for himself , keeping us afloat for 2 years until a job more equivalent to the one he lost was available. And I have a really nice purse that was a gift and really nice clothes that I find at Goodwill. Thanks for sharing this.

  81. says

    I’m guilty of that judgement. I’m not going to pretend it’s right, or that my judgement is fair or justified.

    I worked in a convenience store for 10 years, and for the majority of that time, I saw far, far more abuse of food stamps than I did practical use.

    It was hard for me because I understand that people sometimes need help, and I understand that my taxes in part pay for that help, and I Hope that if I ever needed that help, I would hopefully get it.

    What angered me and made me jaded and judgmental was the amount of abuse I did see in my 10 years, and anecdotally I would say that 85% of the food stamp transactions that I handled were abuses of the system.

    I’m talking about purchasing bags full of candy bars and junk food, baskets full of Monster energy drinks, bottles and bottles of soda, and lots and lots of over-priced pre-packaged convenience store food.

    I know it’s not fair of me to be upset about someone buying a $4 cold sandwich at a convenience store when I know you could make the same sandwich at home for less than $1.

    I know that part of the problem is the company allowing for all of these products to be purchased by EBT. I also know that the food stamp system is also part of the problem, allowing for energy drinks (really?) among other crappy junk food to be purchased on EBT.

    It was hard for me not to be judgmental when the people I dealt with would buy these things on EBT, and then after finishing that transaction, would proceed to buy cigarettes and lottery tickets with the cash in their wallets.

    None of it makes the judgment I passed on these people right. The incentives are wrong, the system is flawed, and people are flawed.

    I am flawed, and so I want to say thank you for this post, and for reminding me that I don’t know the whole story, and while I may not agree or even like the purchases that these people make, I don’t have the right to judge them, to disdain them or to make them feel any less of a person for it.

    I’m sorry.

  82. says

    I’m sharing your triumph as January will be our first month off food stamps, we had them for 18months and qualified for a long time before that. We held off b/c of being embarrassed but finally got them because I was worried about our 2 y/o’s nutrition. I am so excited to be done worrying about what other people think when I buy the kids treats or have my phone out. Congrats and thanks for writing this!

  83. JR says

    With all that is going on with the US economy, the price of fuel and the increase in the cost of living the author should be proud of herself. If all the people receiving state aid to survive had the authors’ mentality and drive maybe the people on state aid would be show respect instead of contempt. God bless the author and her family.

  84. MBQ says

    You ALL need to figure out how to ban together to educate the public as Ron Paul, et al take the foreground in these next elections. If these guys get elected… those in need you have been highlighting will be in a world of hurt.

  85. says

    Thank you! I wish more people would understand all of the aforementioned. Why does someone have to be treated differently or judged just because they are in poverty? Treat human beings like HUMAN BEINGS, regardless of how much money they have or the assistance they receive.

    What really bothers me the most is when someone complains, pretty much saying “get a job!” What the….?!?! Most recipients I know have jobs! They just cannot fully support their family on the job(s) they have and aren’t qualified to do anything else or can’t find another job.

    Assumptions are just hurtful. People need to be more compassionate and have empathy for others, not judgment.

    With that said, I love this blog posting. It really touched me. <3

  86. Ncrouch says

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m having a very hard time getting into the “spirit” this holiday season but this is one story that has warmed my heart. My family too uses food stamps, both my husband and I are full-time college students on a path to bigger opportunites for our family. Without food stamps we would literally have to work several minimum wage jobs to survive and never prosper.

  87. Doris P says

    Very interesting read…well done! I qualified for WIC when my daughter was 3 (1989). The first time I shopped w/the coupons, I was nearly overcome w/tears when I saw how much I could get (eggs, milk, cheese, etc.). The first time a clerk was rude to me, I was surprised. I didn’t expect that kind of treatment. I didn’t have a sign that read “I’m in college full time; I pay my bills; I work at the college; My family is helping me; God has blessed me with these coupons.” At Christmas time, a Salvation Army intake worker asked me how I lived on such limited income (when registering my daughter for the Angel Tree program); I told him that my family helped and God was taking care of us. And thus it has been….and now, 22 years later….we are still being blessed and helping others as much as we can. Bless you for sharing your story.

  88. says

    This is a wonderfully written post. Thank you for sharing such a personal story and speaking truth. You have an extremely valuable perspective from which we should all learn.

  89. Zac says

    Flip side of the coin. A friend of ours worked 31 years in an inner city school system. When she retired, she went to work for a bakery, mostly to have something to do. She has been there for over 9 years now. What really pisses her off is the people pulling up in Caddys, (with or with out kids on board) and walking in wearing expensive leather jackets and gold chains and whippping out an EBT card to buy doughnuts. That abuse of the system is what gives it a bad name. With due respect to those of you who have children that you are trying to feed, I work for a living. My tax dollars should not pay for junk food.
    Oh, by the way, I don’t drive a Caddy, my wife of twenty years who has worked all of her life got laid off, now she can’t find a job and we can barely afford to keep the house we are living in. No kids…no fancy purses, only one junk car and one income.

  90. Peace Patriot says

    I didn’t read all the responses but i wanted to say for all of those who do not know this:
    On of the banksters that got a bail out Chase/JP Morgan (one of the guys who incidentally played a part in starting this economic backslide and made many Americans loose their jobs and require public assistance like food stamps)…they own the majority of those EBT cards that we use. And they make money on EVERY transaction. Conflict of interest? I’d say so.

    Get a bail out-GET RICH Make people need to utilize food stamps-GET RICH

    And here is the clencher: THEY ARE MOVING MORE AND MORE OF THEIR JOBS OVERSEAS.

    God help us…

  91. Jessica says

    I just wanted to say that I was a cashier at a grocery store in high school and I hated having customers w/ WIC checks come through my line and probably gave more than one disgruntled look. But the reason was that I was only a part-time cashier and could never remember how to process them correctly and didn’t want to be yelled at later by my supervisor. Didn’t bother me a bit who was using them or what they bought, it just meant I had to remember the procedures to get through the transaction.

  92. Angel says

    This is so true. I didnt start out on foodstamps but when my dad had his accident me and my husband had to start helping taking care of my parents. There are to many people who judge us who do need a little help ive had family straight disown me and tell me to give my children up because i now need help. i wish they would leatn people before they judge

  93. Lisa says

    I’m coming on this late but I wanted to say a big THANK YOU for your post. I just got approved for food stamp benefits today and am absolutely sick to my stomach about it. I never thought I’d be in this situation ever and was judgmental of people who were. I remember scraping pennies together to buy a tiny package of cheep cheese to use for dinner and seeing other people buy fresh mozzarella with their EBT cards and feeling indignant and self righteous for not needing help!

    Now, my husband left, I have three kids to raise alone, I was a stay-at-home mom for 13 years and am in a trades program to learn a marketable skill. I’m getting no child support or court ordered spousal support and while the state works on that, my kids still need food. Church and family can only help so much. School hours don’t allow time to work a job outside, too.

    Even though I know it’s temporary and I’ve qualified for them honestly and I’m doing my best, but I’d almost rather go hungry than to deal with the shame and scorn I’ve seen others get. :( I can’t wait to be where you are.

  94. says

    Thank you for this post. My family has needed assistance and we are still on food stamps and have state insurance, but it was the hardest choice for us to decide to get the help from the government. And it has caused much judgement from my cousin toward my family because we get assistance and she is unable to get government assistance for her two disabled children because she and her husband make too much money. She said my husband and I abuse the system, taking money from her children for diapers and such. As much as my heart hurts for them that they struggle to get what they need from the government, they both have jobs that support their family well allowing them to buy designer clothes for their other children and have them in multiple sporting activities, take multiple vacations a year, and have a membership to their neighborhood pool. I have never said any of the above to them, but listened to them berate my husband for us living with my parents when my dad’s company that my husband was working for went under, getting food stamps etc. It is hard to be the subject of such judgement. I have a degree in teaching and my husband is currently in school to get his degree and we had worked well paying full time jobs until 2010 and even worked at non profit businesses while getting assistance because they require you to work and seek employment while getting the assistance you need (we currently work for the school system, but make just above minimum wage with no benefits). I will not apologize for getting the help my family needed. Wish there weren’t so many misinformed people, but I think it is due to the news coverage that highlights when the system is being abused. Didn’t mean to ramble. But, this really hit close to home and it still hurts that my cousin cut ties with us over this.

  95. says

    Thank you for sharing your personal story. I wish there was more human kindness in the world. I’ve never been in food stamps, but I had a roommate who applied for food stamps because he was in need and daughter was having digestive issues in the emotional fallout following his divorce from her mother.

    He bought largely organic foods & soy milk and other ‘specialty’ items to make sure that durring his visitation with her she was getting the best nutrition possible. He ate rice. There was judgement EVERYWHERE, single dad, poor, with audacity to buy veggie burgers? but he like so many finically struggling parents was doing what he could for his kid.

    And that’s part of why I pay taxes, to help my neighbors. not to mention foodstamp awards for soy milk will never about to thee entitlement programs for big-agriculture or the interest rebate that American homeowners take for granted.

    Food stamps– no big deal.

    • Ash says

      It’s those same people that would also be commenting if he was buying potato chips and soda and clucking their tongues about obesity in low income people b/c “all they buy is junk”. Here’s a novel idea: people worrying about what is in their own damn cart. No one follows around CEO’s to see how the taxpayers’ bailout dollars are spent but they are so worried if someone spends an extra dollar or two on something they deem ‘unnecessary’.

  96. says

    Thank you for sharing your personal story. I wish there was more human kindness in the world. I’ve never been in food stamps, but I had a roommate who applied for food stamps because he was in need and daughter was having digestive issues in the emotional fallout following his divorce from her mother.

    He bought largely organic foods & soy milk and other ‘specialty’ items to make sure that durring his visitation with her she was getting the best nutrition possible. He ate rice. There was judgement EVERYWHERE, single dad, poor, with audacity to buy veggie burgers? but he like so many finically struggling parents was doing what he could for his kid.

    And that’s part of why I pay taxes, to help my neighbors. not to mention foodstamp awards for soy milk will never about to thee entitlement programs for big-agriculture or the interest rebate that American homeowners take for granted.

    With all the other serious life stuff…
    Food stamps– no big deal.

  97. Donna says

    I love that there is a website that comes up pretty easy in a search that addresses the issue of the handbag. I went to school at Ohio State and all I ever asked for was a ‘designer’ bag from my family. They all put money together and it was my graduation gift! (Most of my friends were getting fancy vacations or new cars). They purchased it out of season at an outlet mall, so they also got me a keychain. Anyhow, after graduation, I had trouble finding a job. After things started looking up, I got into a relationship. Suddenly, my life was insane. My mother passed away unexpectedly from lung cancer. My Grandmother had a stroke and lost her speech and passed away a year later. Then, at 32 – an unexpected pregnancy. (A great blessing, don’t get me wrong but I never wanted to have kids because I didn’t want to grow up like I did, knowing financial burdens). One year later, his little brother arrived. *I was on birth control, but it seemed fate had other plans. I am on foodstamps currently, I don’t get much but I plan every meal carefully and portion out leftovers for following meals BEFORE dinner is served. If I buy anything fancy, it’s because my children have never tasted it before or we buy a cake for birthdays. I don’t like using foodstamps to buy a big slab of humble pie when people stare at my handbag. I guess I don’t really mind though, if people say anything I get a chance to talk about my late mother.

  98. ImNobody says

    Years ago I got an overzealed cashier who gave me a snotty look and an actual snort because I took out a book of food stamps to pay for my 4 year olds birthday cake. Now ordinarily I made the cake at home but this year all I heard was Mama Mama I want Barney cake. So I took $25 worth of food stamps to buy a Barney shaped cake and some ice cream and that was the only gift we were able to get him that year. Thankfully he had grandparents, aunts, uncles as well as other family and friends that could buy presents.
    Also I thought that the laws concerning benefit limits were changed some years ago so that you only got 2 increases no matter how many kids you have.
    I have been on and off various forms of public assisstance over the years and I can say it makes me angry when I see someone dressed tp the nines buying junk food and loading it into a brand new very expensive car while yakking on thier much better than mine cell phone about how they were sooooo wasted last night and where they are going tonight to get even more wasted. I also add that doesn’t happen very often.
    I remember when I was pregnant sitting next to 2 women at the clinic talking quite openly about ” I need to get knocked up again ‘ cause the price of fun is going up.” I never really understood what that means exactly.
    Of course there will always be some welfare cheats but no system is perfect and frankly I’d rather see some people who don’t deserve benefits get them than see people who need them not get them.

  99. ladwolf says

    Way to go! How tastefully done!! That was such a nice article that it brought tears to my eyes!!!
    I feel like I have walked in your shoes before. I am glad you are independent again. I am on disability and trying to raise one of my grandsons. I had to get on food stamps because I could no longer work. My illnesses are painful and crippling. Recently I had someone tell me at the grocery store check out line, that he wished that he could be in my place…collecting all that welfare and sitting on his butt…doing nothing! I told him I would love to trade places with him and that I would do it in a heartbeat! I enjoyed working. I loved being independent and seeing the results of my hard work…the fruitage of labor. If I could go back to work that would mean…no more pain…no more shame…and being able to buy a designer purse. By the way I do have one selfish splurge left…sometimes I buy a beautiful bottle of designer perfume. That one luxury makes me feel worth and keeps me from being depressed. Thank you again.

  100. Becca says

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I find it remarkably similar to invisible disabilities. Last week I was able to go to a party, hang out, serve drinks, have a really good time and everyone commented on how much better I was looking. Today I am curled in my chair with a blanket wrapped around me, socks on my feet, and using my walker to get to the bathroom. This is after I already promised yesterday to cook dinner at a small dinner party.

    I’m still going to the dinner party, but instead of cooking the main I will be teaching a young lady how to cook one of my recipes. Many people make judgements when I park up close, or I have the leads to my tens unit hanging out of my shirt at the mexican restaurant while picking up takeout. I don’t even notice any more, but it bothers the crap out of my 18 year old daughter. I wish strangers could understand that they can’t always see what is wrong with people, whether it is a disability or the need for food stamps.

  101. lisa says

    I love that I finally found a piece addressing this issue and only kind comments follow..I was beginning to think that the world had become a cold and unforgiving place. Through my twenties i had spent many years practically homeless and never applied for help…i had traveled the world with my father because of his job with the military, but at the age of twenty-four had to pick a final destination as i could no longer travel under his orders because of my age. When i picked boston, a state i had never been to nor a place that had any family or friends waiting for me, i was a senior with the University of Maryland, asian division. I struggled with a savings account left for me when my mother died of breast cancer and transferred into umass while also trying to acclimate myself to a new city and work part-time. My bravery was boundless but my exhaustion discouraged me as i was starting all over from freshman year due to the change in degree field and an excessive amount of japanese language credits. There were some months where i wondered how i would make it and eventually had to withdraw from school to be able to survive. Fast forward ten years later. I meet what would soon become my husband, we travel to a town in the middle of nowhere florida and months later we wed. I instantly begin to realize the opportunities for a business major with japanese minor are as close to null as they can be and so I begin to explore options to study for GMAT and apply to university of Chicago for a combined degree program in international business. I remember so vividly the day my life would change where i could no longer just think for myself..I remember sitting in the backyard reviewing the pythagorean theorem when I felt a wave of nausea roll over me and I just knew. 10 months later we welcomed our angel Gabriel into the world and ive never loved a human soul more. My Passion for survival went full tilt and i demanded we leave for Boston to better our situation..i was no longer okay with the adage we’ll see what tomorrow brings. Screw that, i thought, tomorrow’s going to bring what i tell it to bring! As determined as i was sometimes life likes to throw in those curve balls to see if you still have it. I haven’t introduced my husband because I’m afraid i really didnt know him myself…no, not like that..I knew him! We were together nine, I wish I could forget about it years…what I meant was the way you see a persons soul when you’re relationship becomes tried, who they become, if they are fighters or if they cling to excuses and blame. After Gabriel’s second birthday we traveled back to Boston and promptly set up split schedules..he would work days and i would bartend nights..that way no one but us ever had to watch the only precious thing we shared between us. Soon I started to feel like things were turning one way…I would come home and throw 200, 400, sometimes 600 at the end of two exhausting nights in a row and days later see take-out cartons in the trash with bills on the counter that were stamped last notice. After I was up all day with Gabriel my husband came home with excuses about why he wasn’t paid that day while he reaked of alcohol or pot…he would be home minutes to hours late exclaiming he couldn’t just leave the job and then he’d tell me to just tell my boss he had important stuff to do. My boss only cares that im here on time, he doesn’t care about what you have to do. Pretty soon I was working three jobs but was starting to feel like I had two kids, not just one and began to ask myself after one of my husbands temper tantrums of him throwing a chair at me with Gabriel standing behind me or maybe it was the time he threw a fan at my head and broke the window or maybe it was when i had to step in the middle of them as he threatened to put hot pepper flakes on gabriels tongue for talking back…I dont remember…I just remember the epiphany I had..no more nights of searching for your husband who doesn’t come home some nights..kick him out. He left us with ten dollars on the counter. Its been three years now. I start going to harvard in the fall to finish my pre-medical sciences..my dad has stood behind me to help me make my future brighter and is financing my plight. As of now I live in a nice apartment and people are helping me with my amenities, car, etc. My ex is currently being evicted out of another apartment..he never takes gabriel at my request because he lives on top of a shady dive bar (the one he used to not come home from) and I’ve ignores my request for providing a document stating his dwelling is bed bug free..(another thing I found out after several doctors appointments for gabriel and a small infestation here that my landlord promptly and successfully took care of…not after I had to throw away things gabriel held very dear to his heart: toys, books, puzzles and loveys) currently my ex is unemployed and is behind 7 weeks in child support..he only pays 79 dollars a wk…a little math shows that around 2 dollars saved a day for a month would make one payment..his response he only pays “cuz I have him” and “he has other shit to pay for”..yes, i get food stamps and I have nice clothes that I worked my BUTT off for! I don’t order take out, go out with friends, see movies..and there isn’t one moment where i buy for me before my son…I paid and pay taxes and if my son wants to eat steak on a Sunday night he will..I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. I wake up everyday wondering how the heat ends up on me while he galavants around town and no one says boo to him albeit I’ve spent countless times on the phone with DOR asking them how this is so. It could be anyone of us dealing with that curve ball one day..I know one day when I finally have that Dr. before my name I will also be giving back to those less fortunate..and good for them if they have a phone that works. There’s always two sides to every story.

  102. Kristopher George says

    As somebody who’s relied on public assistance, including SNAP, I found your blog entry to be a fresh breath of air. I thought, “finally, somebody who’s not afraid to say ‘Bull!’ to the SNAP Challenges and “contests” of the like. I’ve been so frustrated with people — friends of mine — who think doing the “Snap Challenge” for a month makes them all-knowing. As you know, that’s far from the case. I volunteered with a former nonprofit employer where doing this activity was encouraged to better understand our clients. Due to illness, I lost pretty much everything; I was no longer able to work and state/federal benefits became my lifeline. I didn’t know what to say… “Ummm, I’m already doing that?”

    I posted this to facebook:

    “Some people have good intentions when doing things such as “The SNAP Challenge” for a month. To this I have to say: “To hell with good intentions.” If you really want to feel something and have some understanding, at least have the decency to commit to “pseudo-reducing” for six months or longer. And move. Live in a low income neighborhood or with a friend who lives in one. Shake up your life for real. One month of doing a “SNAP challenge” equates to having a stomach virus and, quite frankly, can only be done if you’re in a position of power. We call this privilege, folks. This glamorized approach to knowing poverty is disrespectful and hurtful.”

    Thank you for your contribution to the world and for helping me to realize I’m not the only person who feels this way. Hurt.

  103. Nadine says

    Reading this brought tears to my eyes.. Made me pretty emotional.I’m never the one to judge anyone ever.Your right shame on the folks who judge people right off the bat not knowing where they been.I had a secure job for over 15 yrs, well at least I thought.Now out of the blue , I’m unemployed for about 5 months now. I have two boys.As a single parent its very hard. I’m glad for ebt and any cash assistant. This is temp and I’m looking for a job.So I ask people out there stop judging and making folks feel ashamed to be holding a ebt card.

    • Nadine says

      Just wanted to add .. I used my ebt for the first time. I was alittle embaress but the guy at the register didn’t look at my card any different than a debit card.Smiled and said thank you.

  104. says

    Right here is the right site for everyone who wants to understand this topic.
    You understand so much its almost tough to
    argue with you (not that I really will need to…HaHa).

    You definitely put a new spin on a subject that’s been discussed for ages. Excellent stuff, just wonderful!

  105. Sara says

    Thank you so much for this!!!! only people close to me know that my family is on government assistance. one of my friends on facebook wrote a comment about someone buying some candy at a gas station and paying with her ebt card and how this was so wrong and blah blah blah. it just hurt me so much because I have (not often) but my children treats from the gas station with ebt. I can’t stand when people say well I’m paying for them to eat this and what not. well guess what I paid as well as so is my husband who is working. I just wish that everyone would have the mind set as you. Thank you thank you thank you!

  106. Sally says

    Awesome! I work at a grocery store and am on EBT myself. It will be a great day when I’m off also. But it has saved me and my two year old from being hungry.

  107. Anonymous says

    For the longest time, I refused to even buy junk food and/or pop on my food stamps. Then I looked at my EBT balance, which had gotten to three times what I’m given every month (because I don’t use it all) and I realized, “What the hell. It’s not like they give it back to taxpayers if I don’t use it. Why not stray from the impovrished bread and Kool-Aid diet.”

    Thanks for the article.

  108. Becca says

    My family just got on food stamps today.i’m very nervous to go to the store with it but after reading this it made me feel better. Thank you so much! Now time to go wipe my tears and get my kids groceries!

  109. Rocke says

    Thank you for posting this, me and my girlfriend are movin and we live in arizaona so you can only know how judgmental people are here and our roomates attacked us last night about our beleifs and the whol food stamps and calling us lazy, it really sucks for one were not even on food stamps but i support food stamps thre was a time in my life that i didnt support it but that was because i was making good money and i was selfish like many other americans we want money for us and our family and screw the world, its ad really we all pay taxes i think of it like a deposit to feed people and i love it everyday,
    Moving to colorado and i couldnt be happier lifes about adventures and being happy, ty for this post made me feel allot better :)

  110. Diane says

    I just stumbled across your blog and have been reading your past several years of posts. So thank you for writing about food stamps and the ultimate courage to not only apply for them but to use them in a store with the subtleties of judgment. I am writing in September 2013 and the economy still sucks especially here in North Carolina where in the past 9 months there has been a change of political power commandeered by Republicans, Tea Party people and Pope and John Locke Foundation people.

    You have been an inspiration to me to start my blog, so thank you again! Let’s keep “scamming” the government with food stamps and healthcare, and let’s save judgment for those who think that we are something less because we want to feed our kids and they can’t get see past their snootty noses that someday they can be in the same situation. It’s the blame victim thing again.

  111. Dani says

    Thank you for this post. I love hearing from people who get it. I applied for food stamps for the first time today. I’m a brand new grad student & I recently moved to a new state for school. I quickly realized after I got here that I wasn’t going to survive the year because I had budgeted poorly & because income I was expecting isn’t coming as it was supposed to be. I found your post while searching for more info about using EBT cards, where they are accepted in my area, etc. Your views as a person who has struggled are so on point & I wish everyone understood it as clearly as you do. You never want to wish your battles on someone else, but doesn’t it make you wish they had to walk a year in your shoes?

    I took a poverty class during undergrad & I remember so many ignorant & priviledged comments about people in poverty from students in that class. We watched a video where a couple had a nice car & lots of family china in a china cabinet, & even though the video blatantly stated that this family had, at one time, been very well off, but recently started struggling, kids would still be like ‘why do they have such a fancy car then? They must not be that poor’ or ‘why don’t they sell the expensive china to pay bills?’ People don’t understand that situations can change RAPIDLY. One year you can be making $200,000 a year & be able to afford a nice car & house payment, & the next, be below the poverty line & drowning. People also don’t understand that being in poverty & living aren’t mutually exclusive. You don’t just stop living because you’re poor. You still hang on to the family heirlooms because they belonged to people you loved & maybe they remind you of a better time. You still have to get to work everyday, so if you already have a nice car, why sacrifice it for one that may not be reliable & may cost you a small fortunate in maintenance? You still have to entertain yourself & your kids, so once in a while you may splurge on a toy for them, or a a movie rental & some ice cream & popcorn. You still have to ENJOY the short life you were given, you may just have to get creative & do it differently than everyone else does.

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