Food Stamps: A Recipient’s Perspective

Poverty, homelessness, and starvation are rampant in the world. This is nothing new and should never be taken lightly. Roughly, 795 million people in the world are chronically malnourished. That’s a startling number.

But just how many people are starving or going without adequate food in America? One in six. For being the tenth wealthiest country in the world, that’s a sad statistic. For being the most benevolent country in the world, it’s devastating.

But we have food stamps and ways to feed everybody. Right?

Theoretically, that is the case. Reality is a little different. Many families don’t get enough in food stamps to feed themselves. Eligibility is contingent upon your income, or lack of income. Anytime the household expenses change, or the income changes, it affects the amount of assistance.

This is going to get personal now. I am a disability recipient. I’m married and raising two teenage sons. I have a mortgage, a car payment, and try to provide as much for my children as possible. I receive $147 in food assistance.

When I went from being a renter to a homeowner, my benefits dropped from around $230 a month to somewhere around $174 because my house payment is cheaper than my rent. It made sense.

I was okay for awhile.

The benefits took another hit when I received cost of living increases from the government. After a succession of decreases, it was down to $133. I still should have been okay but with high utility rates and other bills rolling in, it didn’t take me long to start using credit cards to feed my family.

But then the county passed a bond that increased my property taxes substantially and increased my house payment.

I was no longer okay.

I was going down hard.

By then, my credit cards were carrying high balances and getting even higher since I still had to feed my family with them. I appealed to the state and they gave me an increase of a little over ten dollars.

Ever grateful, I was able to put that toward bread and milk.

I never squander or misuse my food assistance. I am fortunate to receive it and do the best I can with it. I don’t drink or do drugs and rarely eat out.

With the average price of a pound of hamburger at or nearing $4, we eat chicken and a whole lot of Ramen noodles. Fresh fruits and vegetables are out of the question, unless there is a heck of sale on them. I shop at a discount grocery store; buy clothes and shoes only when they are on sale and never for my husband or me. I don’t wear makeup or have my nails done nor do I get my hair cut. I don’t buy jewelry or have any tattoos. I drive an older model minivan with 150,000+ miles on it. It gets great mileage and runs well, thank God.

We eat pasta, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, potatoes, peanut butter, and things we can get in a can. I do splurge on soda, chips, and candy every once in awhile because I don’t want my kids to be penalized for being with parents who are economically challenged. The soda is Great Value. The chips are Great Value. Candy is such a rare treat but chances are it isn’t Hershey or Nestle, either.

My husband picks up work whenever he can. I am limited in what I can do due to my disability and my need for a controlled environment. I’ve discovered that getting a work-at-home job is almost impossible.

This is the first time in my life that my family has been adopted by a local charity for Christmas. It comes with a mix of thankfulness and shame. Every parent wants to provide for their children and give them the very best. They’re kids. They deserve it. They didn’t ask to be brought into this world. I owe them. When I got the call, I had to swallow what’s left of my pride and my tears and say thank you.

I see a lot of anger from people who are fortunate enough not to be on assistance when they see a cart full of groceries, including soda, chips, and candy and the person buying that stuff swipes a food stamp card to pay for it. I understand why they’re upset but it’s not fair to penalize our children for being poor. Maybe the purchase is a once-a-month thing, like it is with me. It’s a treat for the kids; not a staple in their diet.

Sure there’s a lot of abuse in the system but there are the honest people out there who just want to feed their kids and give them somewhat of a normal life.
Who are we to judge?

I’m not asking for sympathy nor am I whining about the benefits. I am thankful to get them and use them wisely. I am asking for a little understanding for these parents who are desperately trying to give their kids somewhat of a normal life and require assistance.

Put yourselves in their shoes for a minute. I can’t speak for others but as for me, I don’t want to live like this. I have to.

I cried when I signed up for benefits. If someone had told me fifteen years ago that I’d be in this position, I would have called them a liar. I had a job; I was gainfully employed. I’ve been on the other side of the spectrum. Now, I have no options. I have to do what I have to do to provide for my kids.

A Snapshot of My Life

Take a snapshot of my life a little over a year ago.

I was working three jobs. On top of those three jobs, I was saving myself and thus my kids thousands of dollars a month by also representing myself pro se in divorce court, basically a forth job as my own lawyer in my opinion. AND, again on top of all that, I was taking care of my two little kids full-time, the most time-consuming and important task of all five.

I’ve come a long way by those metrics since then, sure.

It’s easy to think it’s easy if you look at my results instead of my work.

On the other hand, some might brush off my progress and say I’m not a success story because I don’t have a car with less than 100,000 miles on it. Or because my bedroom is my living room. Or because I don’t go on vacations. Or because I still work 7 days a week.

I hope I’m showing you what I seek to show my kids as their role model: selling your dreams for the price of a fancy car isn’t worth it. Selling your soul for all the gold in the world isn’t worth it.

My dream isn’t to have a fancy car or a big house. My dream isn’t to be able go out with my friends and run up a tab at the bar or club. My dream isn’t to be able to say yes when my extended family wants me to go on a vacation. My dream isn’t to be able to sleep in late mornings and stay up late-nights. My dream isn’t to wear designer suits.

Believe it or not, I’m grinding hard, but I’m not trying to achieve any of that. So, mark my words, be prepared for what I do achieve.

What’s your dream? What are you after? What are you willing to grind for? Please leave me a comment letting me know about your dream and your grind. And pick up a copy of my new short ebook, Achieve Your Dreams. The way Amazon ranking work, each small purchase of the book is like a vote. Please vote for me now. 🙂

Doing The Same Thing, Expecting Different Results

Check out this image by Andy Singer:


What do you think? Please leave a comment below.

What I Think

A small fraction of what even just the USA–just one country–spends on military could provide food, clothes, shelter, quality education and healthcare for all. This has so much to do with 18,000 children dying each day–each day–of world hunger. Children. To roughly paraphrase long dead philosophers, freedom from violence is the mother not the daughter of order. At least, that’s what I think. What do you think? Please leave a comment below.

Many Americans Want to Bomb Agrabah

Would you support an initiative to bomb Agrabah?

Spending billions of dollars waging a military attack on Agrabah would mean billions of dollars in revenue for Washington insiders like Halliburton. Would you support it?

There’s just one problem.

Agrabah doesn’t exist. It’s the fictional city in the movie Aladdin.

Yet, a clever poll by Public Policy Polling revealed that many Americans support bombing Agrabah. In fact, 30% of Republicans and 41% of Trump-supporters support the bombing of Agrabah, a fictional city.

This is a sad statistic that reveals how quickly we disregard the value of human life. That in turn definitely helps explain why we allow 18,000 children to die of starvation each day. As I wrote in a previous post, titled Racism Engenders Violence, we cannot afford to have any less compassion or love for some humans simply because they are not in “our group”.

Surely, this isn’t a problem just for Trump-supporters but rather of human nature and our shared weakness in the face of fear and stereotypes. What percentage of people at a #BlackLivesMatter protest would be too quick to assume a specific police officer deserves death or to be the victim of a witch trial? I doubt it’s most of the protesters that are quite that especially unreasonable, but I doubt it’s zero. Similarly and in contrast, scientific studies using fictional images of targets in simulations show police of any race are more likely to shoot an innocent black person than an innocent white person.

Stereotypes saved the lives of our ancestors. “Is that vague image in the brush a lion?” It was better to just assume yes and run… or shoot the vague image to death. This is why a coat rack in a dark room almost always looks like a dangerous intruder or a vicious monster.

For our own good, we have to fight our primitive brain so that we can try to make more rational decisions. It feels better to be under the covers and not reasonably investigating that vague shape in the dark. It’s scary to not pigeonhole the world into a black-and-white story of stereotypes. In a childish and primitive way, it can feel better to be a cowardly terrorist killing innocent people rather than to have the real strength of the likes of the Martin Luther King.

What do you think? Please leave a comment so I know I’m not pouring my heart out to an empty room. Thank you! 🙂

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - Brave Criminal
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Brave Criminal
View Martin Luther King’s Books

Man does not live by bread alone

Guest post by Sandip Goswami, author of Epic of Time

The word ‘bread’ is used here in the general sense of material food, the food we eat. Next to air and water, it is the most important thing for life. A person may live without it for some time; but after that he will surely die if he does not get it. This is why man wants food so keenly. In fact, want of food is the principle cause of most of the crimes committed by men, and of the political revolutions recorded in history.

But important as bread is, it is not the only food man wants. It meets only his physical needs; but as a rational being, he requires food for other kinds of hunger-hunger of the mind and the heart, hunger of the intellect and of the spirit. It is these hungers that distinguish him from the brute and have made him the lord of creation. It is these again that bind society together and have led to all the progress in civilization.

We also know how love and affection enable a person to go without material food for days together and bear great physical suffering with a smiling face. Intellectual hunger has led mankind from more to more of the light of knowledge. It has produced the masterpieces of science, literature and philosophy.

So, he hungers for something that will enable him to go through the joys and sorrows of life with cheerfulness of spirit, and set him free from the bonds of life. And this he finds in spiritualism. So, we see that, however important material food may be in a man’s life, he has other interests also to inspire and guide him, to make his life worth living and to give him true happiness.

At the end of the article I am grateful to our teacher Late P.K. De Sarkar, who inspired me to understand the reality of hunger and poverty.


Books by Sandip Goswami

Epic of Time ~ View on Bookshelves | View on Amazon

Why are you worried about terrorism exactly?

Here is an interesting question from The Fifth Column:

Since the September 11th attacks, there have been a few Islamist terrorist attacks inside the United States. In total they killed 38 people over 14 years. More veterans will kill themselves today and tomorrow than US citizens were killed in 14 years by Islamist terrorist organizations inside the US. About three times as many people will die in car accidents today. Four times as many people are killed by autoerotic asphyxiation each year. US police killed 161 unarmed people in the first nine months of 2015.

Why are you worried about terrorism exactly?

What do you think?

One of my favorite books ever helps explain why we have such strong emotional gut reactions of fear to possibilities like terrorism and non-terrorist-caused airplane crashes–despite driving to the airport being so many times more dangerous than flying in an airplane. That book is Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert.

The book is not about the particular issue of terrorism and is not a political book at all. The book addresses in large part the science of human imagination and common psychological mistakes, namely as they relate to the personal pursuit of happiness. It’s like the science of optical illusions, but not just the optical kind. I highly recommend the book.

I’m also a huge fan of behavioral economist Dan Ariely’s vast work in studying the many universal and predictable irrationalities in human behavior.

What do you think? Do you think fear-mongering politicians use platitudes about the threat of terrorism to excuse their inaction on other statistically more lethal problems and to distract us from the politicians’ real work to accommodate wealthy special interests? Even on terrorism, do you think the politicians play the irrationality of emotional fear with mere platitudes for their own more nefarious purposes, or do you think the politicians actually implement the best policies to protect us from terrorism? Please answer with a comment now.