Let’s Talk Food Stamps.

Yup. Your worst nightmare.
Yup. Your worst nightmare.

I’ll say this nicely.

If you have a problem with food stamps, people in poverty, a country being responsible to their constituents, you have a problem with me.

Supposedly, 47 million people are currently on the SNAP/EBT food stamp program.

My family has been part of that over the last 8 years, on and off.

Are we lazy? Sitting around, popping out babies to get more benefits and snorting coke?

Nope. We have degrees. We worked the absolute maximum that is allowed so that you can receive assistance to feed our family.

We were also downsized from companies or bone tired every single day from taking maximum amounts of credit hours, working, and having kids.

Most people I have known who has received benefits of any kind from the government is working a terrible, low wage job that offers no chance of advancement or making ends meet.

I can honestly say that I have only met a few of us that made it totally ‘out of the system’ and that ‘the system’ is a nightmare.

Paperwork constantly. Assets can be used against you, as in “You both have cars to get to work that is an hour in opposite directions but couldn’t you SELL ONE FOR MONEY?”

It’s all sorts of ridiculous and while I don’t doubt that there are people who violate this, it’s supposed to be there to help families such as mine get on and stay on our feet, not down in the trenches.

Don’t be too quick to blame Obama. Or Bush. Or Clinton. This has been a nightmare for decades.

Don’t be quick to judge poor people or poverty either- I’ve seen people in poverty work in jobs that most would sniff at, just to make ends meet.

But the ends never really do and you cannot let your children go without something as basic as food.

Heaven forbid you have a savings account with even $15 in it. That can be used against you.

A government’s job is to take care of its constituents and if that means that we provide food, then we do.

Don’t get up on me yet, because we go to the unhire-ables.

People employers won’t touch with a ten foot pole due to disabilities, mental illness, or physical limitations despite statutes in place to protect them.

There’s always a reason to say “They weren’t the right fit.”

That always leads to these people needing help.

Yes, your taxes go towards that.

So do mine and my husbands and yes, we were in the system, we pay those taxes willingly and gladly.

We were ‘part of the problem’ and we have needed help more than once.

You can view us as terrible for receiving help but….

Funny thing is that, I coach your kids at soccer, lead your daughters at girl scouts, we volunteer at the humane society and the shelter or the school, and we work hard.

We are functioning members of society who work hard to give back and we do not mind the idea that we have obligations to others.

Our society is deeply selfish and that can be blamed on the image in the mirror, not on the person who happens to be in the Oval Office.

Of course, these are experiences. Opinions. Numbers are even colder. So, for those who want some numbers instead of just ranting, this next part is for you.

Let’s examine the recent cuts passed in Congress. Yes, those people who are supposed to have the best interests of their voters in mind. They worked a cut into the farm bill that has been delayed for over two years. In this bill $9 billion dollars in cuts to the food stamps program were approved, along with the expiration of $11 billion dollars in expiring stimulus funds. This adds up to about $90 dollars cut per month per family currently receiving food stamps. That’s enough, used wisely, to feed a family of four for a week.With more and more families falling into poverty, this is a loss for the American people, that can be blamed on Republicans and Democrats alike.

Now, what is poverty? The government currently defines the poverty rate in our country as a family of four with an income below $23,500 per year. Roughly 47 million Americans are currently in this situation, or roughly 15% and rising. That’s not quite 2 out of every 10 people you see at the grocery store.

The big complaint of those in favor of cutting food stamps, amongst other benefits, is that those who receive them should just get better jobs, that they’re obviously lazy, or obviously troubled. Let’s examine these points.

Jobs are increasingly hard to come by. At last check, nearly 3 people competed for every 1 job, including those at places like Walmart or fast food franchises. The problem here is that the poor are trying to get out of this poverty trap, but with wages well below the world standard and jobs unavailable, it’s just not possible. I know plenty of poor people, we’ve been poor, as I’ve admitted, but not once have I seen someone who didn’t want a job. I’ve seen people in tears because they couldn’t pay their bills, seen people break down about not being able to feed even themselves, much less their family.

This is stress. Poverty is stress. It’s a proven fact, under such conditions, people do not perform well, so the poor are stuck in a constant cycle of being poor, being stressed, and even when they are able to do something about it, it’s never enough. The cycle repeats. This is not their fault but the fault of the government and the businesses who have bought it out to avoid paying even reasonable, living wages.

The problem is compounded. This week, data was released that shows most food stamps go to working Americans. That’s right. They’ve got jobs. Not only that, they have degrees. In 1980 only 8% of people with a college training needed food stamps. According to the same study by the University of Kentucky, that number is now 28%. Those with a degree jumped from 3% to 7%, and high-school graduates from 28% to 37%.

Now the why. The government wants to cut food stamps, while not increasing minimum wage by a reasonable amount. By and large, these folks are also against abortion. So, let’s translate that for the common man: the government wants poor people having poor babies born into frequently bad situations and wants this growing number of people to fend for themselves.

So, if you have a problem with Food Stamps, it’s also with me and my family.

My husband and I have excellent degrees and training and have had to scrabble like dogs for our careers.

I know a physicist who works at McD’s, as a janitor, and as a transcriptionist to make ends meet.

I know an endocrinologist in the same position.

More importantly, we’ve all had to fight to stay anywhere near or above that poverty line for almost a decade.

There are people who argue that people in poverty have poor money skills.  I beg to differ.

Like myself, most people I know who have been poor, have become extremely close with their checkbook.

We can NOT afford to not know where every single cent of our paychecks go.

People in poverty or the lower middle classes happen to be higher contributors to charities as well. Ironic.

We aren’t a part of the problem because we are the generation to take office next, we are the next solution.

The solution isn’t more cuts. It’s bridging the ever widening gap between the rich and the poor.

It’s also not complaining that we have to take care of our own.

Also, this post welcomes discussion, but I will remove any negative or derogatory comments at my behest.


Glitter and Sparkles,

Sara Rose


3 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Food Stamps.

  1. Thank you for writing this Sara. It serves as a much-needed reminder of the nation and system we all live in, and the changes that need to happen. After I finished graduate school, I was struggling financially as I couldn’t get decent work. So I can’t imagine what it would be like for those who are trying to raise a family on top of such hardships. Best wishes to you and your family.

  2. I hear you absolutely. Our taxpayers make huge subsidies to corporations like Wal Mart, MacDonald’s, and others who have the fix in so that their employees MUST turn to outside benefits. The Koch brothers and the greed of the 1% who claim to be as despised as the Jews were in 1930’s Germany and the Walton family in general should be considered war criminals—they are fighting against the very welfare and well-being of this country.

    Let’s think of an old Republican, Ike Eisenhower: the highest tax rate was 91% in 1954. Today we have Mitt Romney paying 14%. Income inequality is killing this country and its future. We are clearly living in an oligarchical plutocracy…and I know that I am rambling like a 19th century novelist…

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