It appears that I’m going to have to write about this. Maybe if I do, the screaming in my head will cease. One can only hope.
Before I get started, I have to come clean about something that is not easy for me, and that I have been thinking about doing for over a year. I have to “come out,” so to speak, and as I am a full supporter of “just say it, already,” please forgive my shouty caps as I do this.
Okay. Big breath, hold, and release:
I AM A FOOD STAMP RECEPIENT!!!
Pant, pant. There.
That completely sucked. I am not proud of the situation, and I do everything possible to hide it. Do you know that I have still not told my wonderful, loving, completely accepting of everything about me, boyfriend of almost 1 year? I just have avoided going to the store with him, and when I do, I use cash. Maybe I will text it to him*, so I can avoid the look of horror and revulsion on his face. How do you say “Baby, I have a confession…I am a Welfare Queen.”? Hmm. I’m still debating!!
*Disclaimer– I assure you that I use Straighttalk through WalMart for my phone. No IPhone for THIS government leech!!
So, what made me do it after all of this time? It’s the eve of the “Great Reduction” and a hot, hot topic with much discussion. Everywhere I turn, every site I visit, someone “better than me” has something to say on it. I’d like to say mine.
This is hard. I know the perception, I hear it at the store, I hear it at work. On Facebook. “Entitlements?? How the hell are you “entitled” to MY money?? Get a job, like the rest of us!”
Just to be clear, I have one of those. I have had one of those since I was 15 years old. I also am a single mom of 6 kids and have NOT always been on public assistance. And I always pay my taxes.
I won’t bore anyone with excuses as to why my 2 marriages failed, nor blame my “baby daddies” for the fact that they did. It takes two to work at and two to ruin. I have my reasons. And have been relying on government help since making those tough decisions for almost 6 years now.
Background info complete, let’s get to the meat of this thing. But as I ran out of my SNAP benefits about a week and a half ago, it will have to be canned meat for today. Sorry. 😉
First point of topic: My benefits are being reduced by $50 somthin’ bucks a month. I don’t know exactly how much, when I received my notice in the mail about 2 weeks ago, I glanced at it and tossed it out with the junk mail. I just want everyone to know that you don’t need to send the squad to my house, I have no intention of rioting. When it’s not enough to begin with, an extra fifty won’t be missed. I run out every month anyway. And I’m a classy Welfare Queen, thank you, riots are totally beneath me. Sniff.
Next: I’m that woman in front of you at the store with 3 frozen pizzas and a box of cookies hidden under the grapes. Yes, I admit it!! I have to work tomorrow night (at that job thing I mentioned earlier). My oldest, and the only boy, has an exam and will be studying. A college exam. Because he’s in college. At a real school. And my high school senior won’t be home. Third in line, my sophomore, has 3 presentations at school due, in her honors classes, and will be busy. Which leaves dinner preparations up to my 8th grader, and let’s face it, I don’t even know how to feed six people off of a box of rice and bag of beans. How can I expect HER to? And there’s only so much grilled cheese ANYONE can tolerate.
Thirdly, while I have mentioned my 8th grade daughter here: you better shape up, kid! I’ve heard talk (Yes, you, Tennessee) that our benefits may be reduced/discontinued if you continue to fail math! Do you want to be responsible for your brother and sisters, with their A’s and B’s, starving just because YOU are struggling??? I didn’t think so. Bring that grade up! But no pressure, honey, just as long as you are trying your best.
Lots of talk and suggestions on how to reduce the burden. Regulate WHAT we can buy. Better screening of applicants: eg. kid’s failing? Rejected. Failed drug test? Rejected. By the way, I support that one, fully. If you’ve ever stood in line at DSS, you’d know why. Cracking down on fraud. Good. Totally. My daughter showed me a Facebook status from a 17 year old mom, an acquaintance of hers. “Anybody wanna buy some Food Stamps?? Inbox me!” I about peed myself with that one. I know, I know….very un-queenly of me.
SNAP is a government program. As with any program, there will be abusers. Take Unemployment for example. There are abusers. But do you know ME? In the past few years, my Welfare Queen Court has grown exponentially. A lot of that growth is made up of people who used to be “better than me”. Do you know THEM? Because you certainly DO know my daughter’s 17 year old friend from Facebook. Learn about us. Educate yourselves about US. We are there, we are just hiding from the judges.
A good start was “The Snap Challenge”. I don’t want to belittle the effort, the gesture was touching and I think came from the heart. And I really appreciate those people who tried to walk the walk and hopefully some part of our population learned a few things. But honestly? I could do it too, for a week, or a month. But after that, you tend to get tired. Also, here is a direct quote taken off of one of the websites promoting it: Please note: it is important that children receive all of the necessary nutrients for growing strong and healthy, so we do not support participation for younger children.* Was that meant as a joke? Tongue-in-cheek, perhaps? I’m confused.
*Thank you, www.site.foodshare.org for the reference.
Now for “The Cycle”. This is an important one, folks. How do we break the cycle? Low-income household. Parents sometimes working 2 or 3 jobs. Unsupervised children skipping school, getting into drugs, getting pregnant. New low-income household. Parents of unsupervised children skipping school, getting into drugs, getting pregnant. New low-income household. See it?? I don’t work 2-3 jobs. I work one job and use supplemental help. SNAP. That way, my children are NOT unsupervised, NOT skipping school and NOT getting pregnant. My kids are honor students and on their way to a college education. MY KIDS will help break the cycle. My other 2-3 jobs is seeing that they do.
Education is the key. Education for low-income families. Education for those kids. Education of those “better than me”, in tolerance and acceptance. Don’t make us afraid to ask for guidance, for help. Get us out of hiding.
I always thought college was out of reach for my kids. I didn’t know, until my son and I applied this past fall, that his college could be fully paid for. I didn’t know about the FAFSA and TAP financial aid. Luckily, I’m a smart Queen and my welfare status is not a depiction of my ability to read or write. So I educated myself and it made me wonder how many others in my court don’t know this!! Let’s teach them and break the cycle!
Maybe something along the lines of a 12 step program, like AA or NA. Only as a tool to get people off of welfare instead of alcohol and drugs. Hey, it could even point those in need to these other programs!! Make it a responsibility of the program to educate people accepted for SNAP. Then we will all know how to educate our children. And break the damn cycle. So, with all the power vested in me as a Welfare Queen, I hereby present to you a new program. “SNAP Out of It”. (Please don’t steal that from me. Maybe someone important will see this, love it, and offer me a better paying job as a consultant for the new program. Maybe then I won’t have to be on food stamps for the next 8 years until my youngest turns 18 and goes to college.) But that will take more government money, won’t it? And breed more prejudice. And we will stay hidden. And thus continues the cycle.
In case that never happens, I am writing this today with the hope that someone reading it will take the opportunity to educate themselves, and perhaps become more tolerant, about those of us on food stamps. Perhaps become a part of the solution instead of the problem.
My name is Celena and I am a food stamp recipient. A Welfare Queen. But you can call me The Welfare Goddess. 😉