In today's society, there is such a stigma surrounding those who are on any sort of public assistance (PA). People look down on those who need a little help, automatically assuming they are abusing the system in some fashion.
The truth is, abusers of the system are the minority. Most of the people on PA, foods stamps specifically, are hardworking individuals that need a hand up in some way.
Recently, I asked my friends on Facebook to share with me their stories about why they are on food stamps. I had a bunch of people admit to being on the program and, with each story, I saw a recurrence. Both people worked. One person worked while one parent stayed home. They were in a position where they didn't need any help, then the economy took a turn for the worse and their security was threatened.
I did NOT receive any stories of abuse.
"I'm a single mom of two. I work an evening job and substitute teach when I can. We still barely make it. I have a business degree. It's an associates degree. I need another year to get my bachelors but can't do it right now. We have everything we need. We live in a small two bedroom out in the county. The kids have to share a room but we love where we live so that makes up for a lot. My sister babysits for me so I don't have to worry about child care costs. Thank goodness! I wouldn't make it otherwise. We don't have extras like cable or internet. My daughter and I do have cell phones but that's because I was already in the contract before I got put in the position I'm in now."
"My husband lost his job last spring and is getting unemployment. For 6 people living on $550 per week we are getting $115 per month in food stamps. We know we're not lounging around abusing the system but there's such a stigma surrounding assistance that its embarrassing. My husband was making $56,000/ year and got a new boss who was evil and forced him out. He has submitted his résumé for well over 100 different positions in the last 5 months. We're not lounging at all. I hate the stereo types."
These are 3 very real stories from 3 very real women.
We don't live in a cookie cutter world. Life isn't black and white. So often, I hear people say "Work opposite schedules." That's not always possible. For example, in my family....my husband's hours aren't set. He may be scheduled to get off work at 7, but he could be 10 getting off. Sure, I can work during the day, but I have a limited availability due to the fact that we have one vehicle. I'm not saying we receive help, I'm not saying we don't. That's my secret. But the above piece of advice wouldn't work for us.
"Have family/friends help out by watching your kids." I have a friend....she works 2 jobs. One full time, one part time. The full time is a night job and she's probably going to have to quit because she has no one to watch her children.
"Well, you shouldn't have had kids you couldn't afford." That's lovely, huh? When I got pregnant with Boy and Girl Child, I could afford to raise a baby with zero help. I had health insurance and a really good job. 4 months into the pregnancy, I lost said job because of complications in my pregnancy...with twins. Having that extra baby and being high risk was a lot. I lost my job, I lost my health insurance. So I went on Medicaid. I had preemies, who's formula was upwards of $30 a can. So I got on WIC. 5 months later, I was on food stamps. For 4 years, I was a single mom. What was I suppose to do?
Today, we are facing tough times. The economy is horrible, jobs are scarce, and the cost of living is high. I wish EVERYONE could get food stamps. But sadly, that's not possible.
I doubt this blog will dispel any of the notions of those on food stamps, but I wanted to be their voice and let the world know......food stamps doesn't equal lazy or abuse. It's just someone who needs a hand.