posted on Apr, 5 2015 @ 10:00 PM
As someone who grew up in and out of homeless shelters and wondering where his next meal would come from, let me explain what being on food stamps for
someone in that scenario is like for the benefit of those who haven't been there or haven't tried to imagine what it feels like.
This is speaking of people who are actually IN this scenario, mind you. So I hope no one responds with the frequently used trope, "No, these people
have cell phones and live fat off their benefits, and are simply lazy." I'm talking about people who actually NEED these programs to survive. Please
limit responses and thought processes accordingly.
Even with food stamps, even shopping at the cheapest locations available to you, you're often hungry. You are limited as to where you can shop for
food to begin with, as you have no car. You often have to choose between electricity, rent (because you can't ever hope to afford a mortgage or a
home of your own,) toilet paper, soap, and food. You rarely buy clothes, even at thrift shops and the like, because as long as you have some scraps to
cover your nakedness, that's a luxury you can't afford.
Even with food stamps, sometimes emergencies or other scenarios make you run low on money for food, so you eat at soup kitchens. There you may
actually get some of the best nutrition you've had in a while, and it feels absolutely heavenly. Actual meat and potatoes and gravy are you kidding
me? The relief is enormous.
There is no cable TV. Some rabbit ears if you're lucky. There are no cell phones. There is no internet. There are no mp3 players, CD players, tape
decks, stereos, or other musical apparatuses. Your life is a day to day survival. You're depressed. You feel hopeless. You feel like this is a
situation you will never get out of. There are few escapes. Some books from the library perhaps. If you're a child, perhaps a local rec center of
YMCA. If you also have chronic health issues that preclude that, well... you basically sit or lay and stare at the wall or a snowy TV signal.
You are mentally beaten down, hopeless, nihilistic, and often traumatized, especially if like many of our nation's poor, you live in a terrible,
violent, drug addict riddled neighborhood. Because that's where society sends you if you're an "undesirable," such as someone without enough money
to be "presentable" or have "good credit."
So, when through some combination of luck, happenstance, and effort you end up with a little more breathing room than you ordinarily would, do you
horde your every last foodstamp or cent? Hell no. You're not that rational. You're broken down with grief and hopelessness and sometimes even
malnutrition. So no. You buy a steak, or some macaroni and cheese, or maybe a small frozen pizza. Because this might be the only time in months or a
year you'll have the opportunity to do so, and it's the only relief or escape you've had in months. Maybe you take in a cheap matinee, or buy your
child the cheapest example of an action figure they've asked for for years that you've never been able to provide them with Christmas after
That's what being poor in America is actually like. If anyone has a problem with it... experience it first. If you haven't experienced it, no one
cares about your condemnations or judgments. They're too busy trying to survive and, just as importantly, stay remotely sane and desperately search
for some small modicum of happiness.
Thankfully, I am no longer in that situation. I am truly blessed. We are still "poor," but not truly poor as we were when I was younger. But I will
never forget what it was like. And I will NEVER judge those in the same situation or worse for their coping mechanisms. Because you just don't know
unless you've lived it. And I doubt most "lawmakers" have lived it. Just saying.