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View Diary: "I could have made myself an omelet too, but that would have meant no eggs for the weekend." (102 comments)

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  •  Salon SNAP interview a MUST-READ! (17+ / 0-)

    Thanks, HBIII, for writing about this and linking to it.  I hope it goes viral.  It offers a real look at what the daily lives of Food Stamp recipients are like.  

    This interview will counter a lot of the virulent memes that have been pounded into the public's collective head.  For example, let's take a look at what this lazy, no-account moocher does with her time -- when she's not on the bus for her twice-monthly visits to a pantry, or standing in line at one, or toting her small supplies home --

    Slate: It’s you and your daughter at home?

    Debra: Yes. She can’t apply for her own benefits until she’s 22. I’m still supporting her. I also have a neighbor I’ve known for 13 years, who’s critically ill, and I visit her a lot. I’m a veteran: I have a nursing background in the military. I try to help where I can. I also volunteer a lot for organizations that support mental health. We developed a peer program for schools, and a pamphlet that tells people where they can get help. We have a lot of meetings to figure out better intake processes for mentally ill youth. That’s a lot of how I spend my time. I’m also disabled, so I get a VA compensation check every month along with my social security. My daughter and I live on those two checks.


    Slate: Do you feel hungry a lot?

    Debra: I have hunger but I’ve gotten used to it. It’s something to adjust to. I try to cut it by drinking a lot of water . . . But yeah, I’m hungry. I’m very fortunate because I have a neighbor who gets Meals on Wheels delivered, and she’ll give some of it to me and my daughter.

    (I included this passing-along of food because all of us who receive food do it, particularly from food that is pre-packaged rather than selected by the end-user.  I receive a monthly delivery of two bags of groceries from an agency, and since my health requires me to avoid certain foods, I give the items I can't use to other poor folks who can.  Years ago, an agency director told me of then-recent research saying that, on average, each donated shelf-stable item goes through six sets of recipient hands before it reaches its end user.)

    But back to the interview, and its power to conquer societal memes.  Why doesn't this lazy moocher just get a job?

    Slate: Have you considered re-entering the workforce?

    Debra: Yes, I’ve thought about it, and my daughter is also considering it. But my food stamps, rent, VA compensation, and social security would be affected. I’d have to make a lot of money to overcome all the reductions, something like $15 to $20 an hour.

    And of course we all know that $15-20/hour jobs are available everywhere we look these days.

    But surely this woman must be feeling smug and gleeful that she's able to live so high on the hog?

    But I’m very fortunate, because it’s better than nothing.
    According to figures Debra provides in the interview, she and her young adult daughter receive $.81 per meal ($.82 if you round up) per meal each day.  So when she says that her Food Stamps, plus what she can get from the pantries, is 'better than nothing', she is talking about real nothing.  If she is lucky and careful, and can get to the pantries, she and her daughters can survive.

    (PS.  I'm sorry for the snarky, sarcastic tone in this comment; I try to avoid this tone in comments.  But reading this woman's description of her daily life, and of her gratitude for food provision, I could not keep my anger at America's systemic imposition of Food Poverty and its blaming-the-victims of that system fro bleeding through.)

    •  The disincentive for the daughter to work is real (7+ / 0-)

      enough.  Just because we are liberals doesn't mean we have to pretend these problems don't exist.  We basically have a rather piece-meal welfare safety net. Each program- SSI, food stamps, Section 8, etc, lives in its own world, and you end up with this kind of disincentive- where if the daughter gets a job, her family actually gets worse off.

      We really have to engineer these welfare programs such that they taper off gradually, as to not create a disincentive for people to work.  It would be a real tragedy if the daughter here really wants to work, but is prevented from doing so for fear of being tossed off of section 8 and becoming homless.

      •  Both women have the disincentive (5+ / 0-)

        The mother was speaking of herself when she said that she would have to earn $15-20/four to be able to survive, because several of the benefits (including Food Stamps) would be reduced if she got a job earning less that that.

        The young adult daughter is still being claimed on her mother's benefit applications -- the daughter can't make her own application until next year.  

        For various benefits, the two woman are considered as one 'household', with all income combined in the 'household income' by benefit agencies.  So if the daughter got a minimum wage job, her earnings would change the household calculations and lower the household benefits.

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