The last year has been a roller coaster. And a financial nightmare. Jobs have been lost. Homes have been lost. Pride has been lost.

We have begged for extensions, scrounged for gas money, had to learn to accept help like never before. And now we are navigating the waters of public welfare assistance.

I signed us up for WIC back in December – and let me tell you, not worrying about formula was a godsend. It’s not as helpful now that our son is a toddler, but still…we are grateful. We finally had to admit we needed more help. There was no more money. Nada. No money for cat and dog food. No money to put gas in the car. No money for childcare so I can job hunt. No money for food. No money for food.

I put it off and I put it off and I put it off. I didn’t want to need welfare, food stamps. I don’t want to need help. I don’t want to have failed so badly as to need public assistance. It hurts. It’s embarrassing.

And quite honestly, the process of applying for assistance is just as humiliating. You would think that the people working for the welfare office would have some compassion, some empathy. Not so much. Maybe they are hardened to all the stories they hear – I get that. Years of customer service made me so not sympathetic. But this is life or death. On one end of the phone is me, crying, explaining that no I CAN’T drive down to the office because I can’t even put gas in my car. On the other end is a woman who sounds utterly unmoved, brushing past my tears to coldly inform me of options, making me feel as though I’ve just been processed, stamped, and loaded onto another conveyor belt. Empathy is not something these people have. Maybe the new ones, the ones who are there because of some idealistic thought of helping. But most have been broken.

But we survived the process, and came out the other end with an EBT and 6 weeks of past SNAP benefits. I have never been so happy to grocery shop in my life. Never. Because Hubby is out of state, and P doesn’t really eat much, and I really just needed produce, what we get is more than enough. Especially with that cushion of the past owed monies. I went nuts at Produce Junction. Absolutely nuts. I have so much juice from all that produce.

Unlike WIC, SNAP works like a debit card, so no dirty looks from anyone. With WIC you have this very strict process and checks that have to be entered just so. Which turns a trip for 8 items into a nightmare. And annoys the shit out of the people in line behind you. With SNAP, it’s just swipe, enter pin, and go. No one needs to know their tax money just paid for your food.

With the way things have been going this last year, it may be a while before we can stop using the stamps. Income requirements are actually fairly high-ish, so even if one of us finds work, chances are we will still be able to get some money toward food, just less than what we get now (the max). I desperately hope that things take a turn for the better very, very soon. Living life like this is entirely too stressful. But we have a roof over our heads, so that in and of itself is a blessing.

Listen, if you’re struggling, look into SNAP. Like I said, there is a good chance you qualify, and anything is helpful, right? Just be prepared to have any and all of your finances examined under a microscope.

But really, pride goeth before the fall, or something like that, right? Healthy food on the table vs. my pride? It’s a no brainer.

I am off to bake breakfast muffins, homemade bread, vegetable spreads. Oh, happiness is fresh food. It sucks to be here, but my gratitude is boundless.

times like theseAbout the guest blogger: Genevieve is a writer, a mother, and a tattooed lady. She is a photographer, a hippie, and she LOVES to come up with healthy food concoctions. Also? She crochets. Read her blog Out of the Petri Dish…and Into the Fire and follow her on Twitter at @AttilaTheHippie.

The photo in this post belongs to Genevieve.

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