Tuesday, October 1, 2013


I have surely, finally, completely lost my mind. I signed up to participate in the Ultimate Blog Challenge, which means I have to write 31 blog posts over the next 31 days. Yikes. I usually write humor, but since the House recently passed a bill to cut Snap, or food stamp benefits, by 39 billion over the next 10 years, this has been on my mind. I've seen other's sharing their stories, like Jay Kirell. See his story here  Jay says we should not cower in the corner, ashamed of needing help. I'm 20-some years beyond my food stamp experience, and to this day feel shame when I think about it. That's as crazy as committing to blog every day in October. But here we go.


The day I applied for food stamps was the worst. I’d left my husband and moved to Seattle with my young daughter. I looked for work and was told that I was overqualified or underqualified until I no longer had even enough money to hire a sitter while I looked.

When you have to choose between feeding your child or giving up pride, sooner or later you take the shame and ask for help.

By the time I completed the paperwork I was crying so hard that the clerk had trouble understanding my answers to her questions. I kept apologizing. She kept telling me I was doing the right thing.

Besides food stamps, I also qualified for financial assistance of exactly $20 more than I received in child support. If you accept financial assistance, the state intercepts your child support payment to cover it; for $20 more per month I wasn’t willing to let the ex find out about this, so he could remind me again that I’d be nothing without him.

To those who say they weren’t raised to be “takers,” neither was I. I got my first job at age 15, moved from my parents’ home at 18, and worked every day until I became a stay at home mom at age 28. By 30 I was a single mom and on the hunt for work. Never even crossed my mind to have more kids so I could take more.

To you who say those on food stamps are lazy and just want the fine upstanding tax payers to support us, guess what? I pay taxes too. And lazy? Well, most are out trying to find some work that might pay enough to put food on the table and maybe pay the rent. ‘Cause guess what? Food stamps free up about enough cash to pay the electric bill. Period. We aren’t lounging around eating bon bons that you paid for.

That attitude about seeing people using food stamps that have manicures or drive nice cars, or in my case carried a Louis Vuitton bag? Well, I can’t tell you about the cars or the manicures because I don’t know anybody else’s story (like you do), but I happened to own one purse, and it was a gift given to me years prior to finding myself shopping in strange neighborhoods so I wouldn’t have to face the embarrassment of running into anyone I knew.

I’ll tell you one thing I know about those who get a hand up when needed: we remember. Maybe it’s that shame you want us to feel that makes those memories of struggle stick for so long – whatever it is, we remember.

We are not takers.

A neighbor lost his job? We share some food or childcare or whatever we can. Transitional housing needs some furniture to get the homeless off the streets – we don’t give a shit how that family became homeless, we just donate something. Tornados and floods strike – while you’re saying that’s what insurance is for, we’re taking action. We hear of a struggling single parent and make damn sure that family has gifts and food at Christmas.

Sometimes Christmas comes in July. 

That’s how we roll.


  1. Loved the story and your perspective. I remember that my grandmother was so proud that she would not shop in the only grocery store in the small town she lived in so that others would not know she was on food stamps. I know that you did the right thing so you could take care of you and your daughter and that your pride did not let you fall. Thanks for making me smile this evening.

    1. Thank you for stopping by and for the kind words Sher!

  2. Wow, this is so candid and insightful and real. Thank you for revealing the shame as memory and how you provide real, in the moment, concrete support to those in need.

    Showing up is what matters.

    Thank you.

    1. Showing up is definitely what matters! Thank you, Jocelyn.

  3. As someone who has drawn food stamps with both my spouse and I working and being killed by electric bills and medical bills, I understand the stigma. But I will also say there are many who don't get them for simply being as little a 5 dollars over the limit and then you have people who are using the system. It happens everywhere but to assume everyone is, wrong I agree.. See my feeling is we should never allow the government to do what we as compassionate human beings should be doing for them ourselves. Period.
    Coming in from UBC and you can find me at

    1. I could go on forever about this...agreed about those who need but can't receive - my first job after getting food stamps was temp and paid $8 an hour, and then I no longer qualifed for the assistance. There are people who abuse, but I think we can't make the truly needy suffer in order to punish them. It would be ideal if people just took care of each other and there was no need for govt. assistance...if only...
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. Hi Debbie. I have, too, been there. I was grateful that there was some help for me in the form of rent subsidy, food stamps, and day care when I needed it. I had a full-time job, but it wasn't enough to cover everything.

    The only issue I have with food stamps is that, like any other government program, it is wide open to fraud. When I was in Florida on vacation, I was approached more than once at a grocery store by someone wanting to sell me an EBT card. I also get furious when I see people using EBT cards to buy soda, candy, donuts, chips and other junk food.

    I would be happy if the food stamp program would be more like WIC and limit people to purchasing food that is actually nutritious for them and their children. I would be happy if there were severe punishments for people who 'black market' EBT cards and there were undercover agents to catch them. I would be happy if we didn't have such a bloated Federal government which makes it so easy to fleece the taxpayers - and not just for foodstamps.

    There are people who need help. I just worry about the government making it more difficult for people to take care of themselves because it can be so comfortable to be dependent. Also, like you said, we should take care of each other, but our politicians think it should be done by taking our money and spending it as they see fit.

    Thanks for sharing your insights.

    All the best,

  5. Hi Leslie, you make many good points. The show 20/20 just did a segment on SS disability fraud, and the "expert" said that if everyone knew about it (how easy it is to get benefits), half would be outraged and the other half would apply. The system is broken.