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Don't Judge People Who Get Assistance

The mayor of New York, in all his wisdom, has banded together with other mayors in attempt to limit food stamp users from buying soda and junk food with their food stamp benefits. 

I agree we have an obesity problem. I agree that there are some who knowingly abuse the system. But judgmental people suck. And quite frankly, they can kiss my ass. But the “poor people shouldn’t be allowed to buy….” Bull Shit needs to stop.

Having to relay on food stamps, TANF and or WIC is not easy. It’s hard. It’s the endless paperwork, red tape, having to explain yourself to a total stranger who has the authority to tell you yes or no, hoping your income doesn’t go up too much, or you lose more in benefits than the raise you got, no health benefits because you are $100 over the income limit. The low income clinic wants $50 from you just to see someone. Having to relay on some government entity a world away to determine if you get a $200 off your rent each month is draining and frustrating. You become just another number, another statistic… another drain on society.

You see her buying junk food, and you just can’t believe that she would do that with food stamps.

Maybe, just maybe, her child’s birthday is coming. She’s been saving up her food stamps for the last 3-4 months. In order to get a cake mix, frosting, eggs, oil, ice cream, chips, candy, and soda. Why? So that finally, her soon to be 12 year old daughter can have a birthday party sleep over with three or four girls and they can pig out on junk food all night, just like 12 year old girls.

Or maybe he’s a single father with two kids and only gets $28 a month in food stamps. He can’t afford fast food, every penny he sets aside for food goes to things like flour, chicken, fresh veggies and milk. Once a month he borrows the latest release from the public library. He uses that $28 to buy a couple frozen pizzas, soda, a pint of ice cream and chips so he and his kids can pig out while watching a movie.

Look at all of that frozen crap that she’s buying - she should be cooking “good” food instead of buying that crap!

In a perfect world - I agree. While you see her purchasing “crap” what you may not see is a cupboard of healthy ingredients to cook home cooked meals. Or that she does normally cook from scratch and uses leftovers wisely. But she works two part time jobs, is going to school full time to get her GED and is in job training classes to be an EMT with dreams of a more than 15 hour workweek making more than minimum wage, is her sons boy scout troop den mother, makes it to all her daughters middle school band concerts, she is the treasurer of the high school PTA and she’s lucky if she can find the time to inhale a pop tart on her way out the door. Or maybe she just needs a few easy to heat and serve meals on those “Oh my God I’ve been so busy today I forgot to set something out for dinner and everybody’s starving” moments or something easy after a long day so she can make sure her daughter does her social studies project, help her son with his book report, get some laundry going and spend time with them instead of slaving over the stove for an hour and a half.

OMG - she has a smart phone! How can she afford that if she has food stamps???

coupon custyMaybe it was a gift, and the giver pays the bill for it so that she can stay safe from an abusive ex-partner. Maybe she qualified for assurance wireless, a company that provides cell phones to low income folks, and that is the phone they sent her. Or maybe she bought it used off of craigslist and doesn’t have cable, a home phone and/or internet at home. She uses it for all of her internet access so that she doesn’t have to pay a separate bill, yet she can take it with her and feel safe when she is traveling with her children. She also uses it as a camera to take photos of her family since she can’t afford a digital camera. Or maybe it’s a prepaid model with limited minutes and internet access.

But her car is nicer than mine!

Maybe it belongs to a friend. Maybe her brother loans it to her a couple times a month so she can get all her bills paid or take herself or the kids to the Dr. Maybe he already owned it before his world fell apart, and it’s the only set of wheels for him and his young child…maybe it’s a left over from before she was laid off. Maybe he and his wife bought it at a police auction for chump change. Maybe her dad bought it for her so she doesn’t have to deal with a stroller and a 7 month old, a 3 year old and a 6 year old on the city bus. Sure, she could sell it and get a clunker - but this one is only five years old and still covered under warranty and she knows that she can count on it to get her to work and get her kids where they need to go.

Is that a Coach bag?

Maybe it’s a high quality knock-off. Maybe she found it at a yard sale, and the seller didn’t know its true worth before tossing it in the “Everything’s $1” box, and while she was trying to find some decent new to her work clothes. Or maybe it was a gift…or maybe a leftover from before her world crashed.

Maybe the food stamps aren’t even hers.

Jason ListenMaybe she’s shopping for her elderly neighbor who is too disabled to leave the house easily. They gave her a list that she had made and her EBT card - because if someone can just do a little shopping for her, she will oh so grateful. Or maybe she’s a home healthcare provider and she’s shopping for one of her clients who is terminally ill. Maybe she’s shopping for her father who has slipped through the cracks of the system and his pension is a fraction of what he was promised. Maybe He’s buying that case of soda for a friend who’s chemo treatments have wrecked havoc on her and that coke/sprite/pepsi is the only thing that settles her stomach enough to tolerate a bit of food.

Unless you personally know the individual using the card and/or WIC and you know for a fact that he/she is abusing the system, keep your judgments to yourself. Some people are lucky enough to never need assistance and some of us aren’t that lucky. Sometimes we need help. It happens. Every person has a story, every person is different, and every person has a right to live his/her life without being judged by total strangers.

—Heidi

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