Becoming Jill: Adventures in Adulthood


Chapter 4: In Which I am Frustrated With Judgmental People
March 16, 2010, 9:39 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I found out this weekend that my re-application for food support was accepted, which was a huge, giant, enormous relief. I don’t earn enough money to purchase food and pay my bills at the same time, and the VISTA program prohibits any additional forms of income, so without food stamps, I would really be up a creek.

Which is why when I read an article like this one on Salon.com, I get really frustrated! Yes, I choose to use my food stamps to buy healthy, fresh foods. Sometimes I even buy organic ones if the regular ones don’t look very fresh.  Since the point of the program is to allow people to purchase food and stay healthy, I can’t really see what is wrong with buying fresh fruit instead of fruit roll-ups.  I also purchase dried beans, rice, flour, and oats and cook nutritious food from scratch. I don’t do it to be a “trendy hipster,” but to be healthy and eat food that I think tastes good. Maybe my notions of what tastes good are informed by growing up eating fresh, healthy food from my mom’s garden, but that hardly makes me an “overindulged slacker” as one of the commenters on the article wrote.

I just don’t understand why people judge each other for the choices they make, but I find it to be especially irksome in this instance. I take my benefits and spend them in the way I think will best feed me for the month. I always keep in mind that this money is not some hand-out, and I try to spend it responsibly. Do I buy the occasional chocolate bar? Of course I do, but I try to keep indulgences to a minimum. If I choose to eat beans for a week so that I can also afford to buy a bar of high-quality chocolate, why should anyone care?

I am conscious of the fact that I am not the “typical” food stamp user, but if my income qualifies me to receive them, why should I be judged for coming from a middle-class family and having an education? Yes, my parents paid my tuition in undergrad, but I also had scholarships. All of my graduate degrees were paid for by a combination of scholarships, assistantships, and student loans I took out myself.

Should my high level of education mean that I should be earning enough to NOT qualify for food stamps? Believe me, that’s my goal. I chose to do a year of service with AmeriCorps for many reasons, not least among them with the intent of establishing myself in the non-profit sector, and gaining valuable work experience. When my term of service is ended, I hope to find a job that will pay enough so that I no longer need to rely on food stamps to feed myself. I eagerly look forward to the day when I can pay my own way, and I see this blog as a valuable tool to help me get there.

Luckily, the primary people in my life are smart enough to understand all this, and certainly haven’t made me feel like I am ripping off the government. Unfortunately, my food support case worker has lectured me for “taking money away from people who actually need it.” I guess this is just my silly way of saying, I do need it, and please keep your nose out of my business. The End.

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6 Comments so far
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You are right! The government would not intentionally underpay (service) and then say VISTA’s are eligible to apply for food stamps if they did not intend for that to happen! You just have to remember not to let other people’s judgmental statements and thoughts bother you when you know they do not have the whole story!

Comment by jan

I know… that’s a skill I have struggled with my whole life! I’m working on it, though! 🙂

Comment by becomingjill

Are they even allowed to say that to you? It seems like that case worker may have crossed the line. It’s like this: my son gets free lunch because I don’t make enough money. Obviously, it’s for a reason. Yet, why do I feel like the Rockwood employees who took my forms think I’m scamming them somehow? Because I don’t “look like” my child should qualify for free lunch? He’s no less entitled to it though. Just like you and food stamps. It’s there for people who need it!

Comment by Angie Rundle

I agree– it does seem that people judge you more when your appearance doesn’t fit their idea of who should be using these benefits. I’m glad your son is getting what he needs AND deserves!

Comment by becomingjill

My favorite is when I’m behind people in line and they are supporting their nicotine habit on food stamps. Awesome… now they’re going to get sick and cost me more of my hard-earned tax payer’s dollas on healthcare. Perfect!

You have a job, you pay into the food stamp program. Look at it as you’re getting back what you’re paying in — you’re not a slacker.

Comment by Kendra

Actually, people aren’t allowed to buy tobacco or alcohol with foodstamps… however, that doesn’t mean they can’t still purchase those things with whatever money they may have. So, yes, they could be buying cigarettes with money they might use for food did they not have foodstamps, but… in the end, you have to let people make their own choices.

Thanks for the support, tho! 🙂

Comment by becomingjill




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