Argh! One should never read Facebook comments regarding a topic like food stamps. I get so frustrated by them. Obviously most of the commenters have not ever had to use food stamps, do not live in situations even close to what folks on food stamps are living in, and have no concept of how the “other” is living, working, or cooking.
I see comments like, “Provide the necessities only” or “Make food stamps only for FOOD.” I have questions for those folks commenting: Have you ever used food stamps? Have you ever tried to get the food stamps? Have you tried to buy those non-food items with food stamps? Did you know that if the person buys that steak dinner that one night that their entire monthly budget is likely gone? Have you thought that maybe they are celebrating that they got a job that will allow them to get off the food stamps? Maybe they got a second or a third job that will help with getting off of assistance? Do you know how much a month those folks are getting in assistance? Could you provide food for your family on that amount? You tell them to eat healthier food, not the processed junk. Do they have a way to cook that healthier food? Do they know how to cook? Do they have the time to cook? Do you have any idea how much fraud is actually involved in the food stamp program?
All these questions and more. So, why do I feel so strongly about this? Because I have had to use the assistance at two points in my life. I was not the exception to the rule. Most people I know who have used food stamps have used them for a little while and then quite happily gotten rid of them. Did I have a job? Yes! Almost full-time and I was a full time student. Were the benefits large? No. Around $100/month. Could I buy anything other than food? Not a chance. Even food that has been prepared already is a no-go. They require you to do some sort of preparation. Deli food is not allowed. Nor is alcohol, cigarettes, diapers, formula (this is provided through WIC benefits which is NOT food stamps), magazines, dog food, or any other non-food item. Did I buy steak once in a while? Absolutely! A person has to have a decent meal once in awhile. That does mean that I got that one good meal and not much else the rest of the month.
So how about the process to get the benefits of the food stamp program? Well, you have to prove you need them. How do you do that? Rent receipt, pay stubs, utility bills, school bills, etc. It is about a month or more to get all the paperwork in order to get approved. That is a long time to wait, especially if you have little kids who need to eat in the meantime. I was lucky. I was a “starving student” when I needed mine. Also, to provide that proof I had to take time off of work or school to make the appointments (that are required to be in-person) because like any good government office it was only open on weekdays 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
The other aspect of all this that folks don’t take into consideration as a possibility is that like me, lots of the folks using food stamps have jobs. Probably have since a young age. I never felt bad about using the food stamp program for a total of about year since I’d been paying income taxes since I was 14.
And last but not least; Why is trying to make ends meet and helping your fellow human out such a bad thing? Why are we so bitter about helping someone out? Has no one ever helped you? At any point in your life have you ever had a hand up? If not, I am so very sorry that you have been treated so poorly. I’m sorry that you that much disgust and hate toward another human that you are embittered toward them for trying to provide a basic need for survival.