Monday, September 23, 2013

.Foodstamps = Shame?

Since foodstamps, EBT, SNAP, whatever you want to call it, seems to be such a hot topic lately, I decided to put my own two cents into the mix.  First things first, let me share a little story with you.

I was at the grocery store at midnight, which usually happens at midnight on the day I get my food stamps because by then we're all starving for something other than what the food pantries have to offer (which is the bare minimum) and thankfully we have a 24 hour grocery store very nearby.

I picked out my few items to hold my family over until I could hit the grocery store again later that day when I wasn't starving so badly and wouldn't make terrible food choices and got in line. Ahead of me was a woman, a man (I assumed it was her husband since they were both wearing matching wedding bands) and three small children, ages about 2 years old to 8 years old.  Amongst them, they had filled a cart to the very brim with groceries and unfortunately for me the cashier had already begun to ring them out, so I had no choice but to wait for them to finish.

At the end of the order I heard a shocking total of $746.88.  Wow.  I was even more shocked when she said she would be paying for all of it on EBT/food stamps.  I wasn't shocked because she was using food stamps, oh no, I was shocked because she had that much in food stamps.  It was a fortune compared to the pittance I received monthly.  But I didn't know her circumstances so I wasn't going to judge.  Besides, who was I to judge her?  I was using food stamps, too.

They finished bagging up their order and went on their way as the cashier started to ring up my order of 30 or so items.  Seventy-five dollars later, almost a third of what I get monthly, I walked outside to my car.  As I did so, I noticed the family before me was still putting their groceries into their car.  What I noticed next nearly blew me away. 

I was shocked, taken aback and in awe by what I saw.  What did I see, you ask?  They were piling their $750 worth of EBT groceries into a brand spanking new Dodge Charger.

I stood there for a moment, in front of my hoopdie of a vehicle that is missing door handles and window handles and the full use of the rear driver's side door, speechless, my brain had literally halted.  How in the hell did they manage to afford a brand new fucking car when they're on friggin state aid!?   

As I struggled and fumbled to get into my POS of a car, I drive a 95 Geo Prism that has seen better days, I began to wonder, again, how they could afford that car and still get over seven hundred dollars in food stamps.

No matter how I looked at it, I could only come up with one conclusion, that family was screwing the system, just like so many others.

But just so I wouldn't judge without knowing the real facts, I went over to the man and woman with a gentle smile on my face and introduced myself by striking up conversation with the gentleman about the beauty of his car.  He, of course, opened up like a book, as most men would when asked about their precious babies, otherwise known as, a car.

I managed to find out that he got a great deal on a loan at some dealership I've never heard of on the north side of Milwaukee, not the greatest neighborhood and what they were doing this far south for groceries, I didn't ask.  He paid for the down payment with another student loan that he got so he could go back to college and get his engineering degree (commendable) and then he explained that this would be his third degree, he has one in business and one in psychology, as well.  

In fact, there are so many people/families taking too much advantage of the free programs and benefits that state aid has to offer that they're talking about actually spending money out of the same budget to investigate the people/families that are suspected of doing so.  And those are the people who make the rest of society think that all of us on food stamps is out to screw the system.  But as I know for certain since I'm one of those who is not out to screw the system I can tell you that I would not be able to afford enough groceries for me and my family with what little income we get and still maintain a roof over our heads, lights in the dark and applicable amenities if it weren't for state aid and food stamps.
I've had a few people give me nothing but dirty glances and mumble under their breathe about how lazy I am when they see me using my EBT card.  They do the same thing when I have to go to the store with my WIC checks.

You would not believe the hate and discrimination I go through just from one simple card.  I had one woman tell me to get off my "fat ass" and exercise more often so I could actually hold down a job.  Like she has any idea why I'm on EBT in the first place.

And I'm not a really healthy eater but I had more fresh veggies and fruits and meats in my cart than she could have ever dreamed of.  Her cart consisted of nothing but those little frozen one person meals.

Do you know how much salt is in one of those?  Check sometime, it's terrifying.

I do not appreciate being told that I'm a fat lazy ass just because I pull out my EBT card.  Being on EBT has nothing to do with the size of my ass, thank you very much.  I'm on EBT because I'm on a fixed income from disability and I'm on disability because I screwed up my spine royally in a car accident 7 years ago.  So, yea, I'm on EBT for the foreseeable future and no, I don't know if I'll ever not need it but it is what it is and I can't do much about it at the moment. 

To sum things up, it all comes down to that old saying, "You can't judge a book by it's cover" and you really can't.  You never know the circumstances surrounding the reason why that person ahead of you in the check out lane is pulling out a food stamp card but don't judge them right away just because they're using it.   Be kind to your fellow human being, we all have feelings and are dealt a different hand in life than the person next to us. 

Thanks for listening to my rant folks, it's appreciated. 

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