Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Truth About Food Stamps

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. 

"My family receives food assistance. We have 4 kids and we only decided to get them because my husband is a disabled veteran and we only get $1120 a month for disability and its very hard for us at times until they fix our compensation. My husband can't work due to his disabilities and $1120 a month is not very much at all once we pay our bills"

"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.

14 comments:

  1. Great blog. Thank you ladies for sharing your stories.

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    1. Yes, there were some brave women who spoke up. Thanks!

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  2. As always another well written story......

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  3. I am a single mom. I take care of my son, and my mom. I work full time as an accountant. But it is a small business I work for. I still need the help. I get food stamps. I live in a small 3 bedroom apartment. By the time I get done paying for bills, gas, insurance for the car, I have barely anything left over. Thank goodness for the food stamps because I wouldn't be able to afford feeding my family. My mom helps me out by cooking, cleaning, and taking care of my son. I don't take advantage of the system. I just need a bit of extra help. And it really irks me when someone says that people on PA need to get off their butts and work, and that people on PA are bums and lazy and not law abiding. I work my butt off, but barely can make it. I went years without any public assistance, but because the cost of living has gone up so much, I have to have the help. My mom has tried to get a job, but for someone in their late 50s with almost no work experience, she can't. No one wants to hire her.

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    1. You will get out of this. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  4. Absolutely agree. I worked as a social worker for many years, and some of the stories I heard were just horrific. We don't have food stamps in Canada--but we do have a dwindling social safety net, and a growing population of homeless people. In fact, one of the fastest-growing demographics is women in their 50s whose husbands have either died or left the marriage.

    Thanks for posting this.

    ^K.

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    1. Wow, I didn't know that. Thanks for the info!

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  5. Great job i found this blog amazing because sharing the situations. I work and recieve some food assistance my son father hasnt been in life he hasnt paid a dime andbi dont get asstistance with daycare because of the new guildlines thathave been put into place it hard at times but i have learn with obersvation the ones who are the ones that abuse the programs and being in a city its very easy

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  6. Thank you for writing this!!!
    I grew up on food stamps. My mom was on disability. My dad split when I was little and rarely paid child support. If not for food stamps, I wouldn't have been able to eat.
    You are so right about how abuse is NOT the norm. It makes me sick when I hear people complain about people on food stamps. Do they not stop to think that it could be THEM one day?? Makes me SO crazy!!! Do they not realize that even with food stamps people STILL aren't getting enough to eat?? That the majority of people on food stamps are single moms or the elderly???? ARGH!!!!
    This is one of my don't-get-me-started topics.... LOL

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  7. Great post, thank you for taking the time to write it. I hope it changes the mind of even one person...

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  8. Everything you said here is so true. But sadly, all it takes is a few bad apples in the system to ruin it for all the honest people who sincerely need the help. I know a lot of people who need food stamps but are just under the qualification amount and they are still struggling. Our country is in a scary place right now, that's for sure.

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  9. The problem with the anti-welfare crowd is that, aside from being convinced there is more fraud than actually exists, they're so focused on the people they perceive to be nickle-and-dime scammers while they ignore the massive fraud and theft going on in front of our faces on a daily basis. The total the US spends on all welfare benefits of any kind pales in comparison to the amount of money a major bank will spend on a year's worth of campaign ads to buy your representative, or the "bonus" received by one CEO. I think that, for a lot of these people, it is too painful to acknowledge the reality of our virtual slavery at the hands of the greedy. It is much easier to spit down than to bend your neck and look up for the source of the spit that is raining down on us all.

    This sounds like bombast or grandiloquence; it is simply the naked truth. The first part of escaping the cage is to see it.

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So....what did you think? And are you THAT Sarah Michelle?