Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Single Mom on Food Stamps

I'm just going to say it.

I'm on food stamps.

And Medicaid.

Since the day my ex husband put me and my 37 week gestational age baby who had just gotten discharged from his NICU stay 2 weeks prior, I've been using YOUR TAX MONEY to pay for food for myself and my son.

It has also paid for every medical checkup and sick visit Eli has ever had. It's paid part of the medical bills I've incurred as part of my clinical depression and PTSD which resulted from my baby dying, my other baby being sick in the NICU for 45 days, and my husband cheating on me and abandoning me.

It has been a blessing. A true blessing. But lately I've seen these ecards going around Facebook and Pinterest:

I don't have any of these things besides the iPhone - I tan naturally outside, I'm not allowed to have fake nails as a nurse even if I wanted them, I don't have any tattoos. Sometimes I do have a fresh mani-pedi - that I did myself, while my child was asleep, with a selection of nail polish that I've been collecting over years. I'm sorry that it bothers you that I like to have some color on my nails, but let me remind you that a median price for a bottle of nail polish is about $7. If I use that color 10 times over the lifespan of the bottle, that's costing me $0.70 for that mani/pedi you're so offended by.

I do have an iPhone. For the first year after I got divorced (while I was on food stamps!!!) I had a crappy prepaid cell phone. Once I managed to make it into nursing school, though, we had required apps. They gave us an iPod Touch (and by "gave," I mean paid for with our special nursing fees that are added on top of tuition). Many of the required apps for school need an internet connection and I was finding that it was impractical to need to have WiFi every time I needed to look up a drug or study for a test, and I decided to purchase an iPhone. Judge me if you want. I didn't buy it to have the latest and greatest - I bought it because as a single mother, finding study time is hard enough and the iPhone is a great tool to be able to study on the go. Plus also? I didn't/don't pay for my iPhone with YOUR TAX DOLLARS. I pay for it with student loans, which I will have to pay back once I am graduated.

This one is almost funny. I do get to shop as much as I want - at thrift stores. Because you know, it takes awhile to find something presentable to wear when you're sifting through shit other people didn't want. As for living off child support, that's a complete joke. Every dime of my child support goes to childcare while I'm in school, and I have a balance left over after that. It doesn't pay for any of my child's clothes or activities or haircuts or any living expenses. It pays for daycare. That's it. I will admit that my state is generous in its food stamp formula - I get $367/month for me and E. That's $12/day... $6/day each.. $2 per person per meal. So while I do have enough to feed us, it's not as if we're eating steak and lobster every day. Just to clear that up.

I do have a nice pocketbook. I have this awesome one that holds all my cards and my *gasp* iPhone. It was $6 on clearance at Target. Do you know what else I have? I have two Juicy Couture handbags and a Coach Patchwork. I hardly ever carry them anymore, because of judgement like this. Those were bought for me as gifts by my ex husband while we were married and we had the money to do so. They're not in great enough condition to sell for any significant amount of money, and as all I got in the divorce was my personal belongings (no furniture, no dishes, no appliances, no shared property whatsoever) I feel justified in keeping these. They're mine, and I didn't buy them because you were buying me food with YOUR TAX DOLLARS. They were gifts, from a time when I wasn't on any assistance at all. I don't think that makes me a shitbag.

I'll end with this one:

This one shows some common sense. No one knows how I came to be on food stamps, just like no one knows how I got my iPhone. They don't know that over the summer I'm "donating" plasma twice a week to pay the bill. When I first started getting child support, I would hoard all of it in my wallet, terrified of losing it and not sure if/when I would get more. So I'm sure people judged the girl on food stamps with all the cash in her wallet. She must be playing the system, right?



  1. I think the last two were being sarcastic but I agree with this post!

  2. Wow... we live in a very judgmental world... I love ya!

  3. This is an excellent post. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  4. I wish everyone had to live on nothing but food stamps and child support for 6 months so they could get some freaking perspective. I hate judgmental people. Even if your expensive purses were in a condition to sell it doesn't mean you have to sell every nice thing you have! It's not like selling them would take you off of food stamps. It would be a one time lump sum to spend on something, but at the end of the day it wouldn't take you off of food stamps. Jerks.

  5. Thank you from all of us single moms trying to get through

  6. Thanks for the great post from all us married moms who still need a little extra help to get through school and life in general!

  7. The thing is, those who abuse the system give the others a bad name.

    I have been on assistance a couple of times in my life and try not to judge. However, I work in the Financial Aid office of a school and see a lot of things you wouldn't believe. So yeah... hard to trust that everyone is doing the right thing.

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    1. That's an amazing story, Sondra. May I ask how you worked 2 jobs as well as attended school? I've been figuring out the numbers and daycare for school alone will be over 50 hours a week with preceptorship coming up this semester. Did you have friends or family helping you with childcare?

      I ask because it would be virtually circular for me to work a minimum wage job right now. I would spend about half of what I made on daycare, quite a bit on gas, and the rest would go to taxes, and someone else would be raising my child for even more time than they are already.

      I don't have friends or family who are able to look after my child, though. If I did, it might be a different story. 99% of the help I get is paid.

      I never planned on being in this situation, and I can say with total confidence that I will be filled with JOY to be contributing to the tax and welfare system rather than taking from it after I graduate.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. I don't blame you at all. You do what you can to survive and if you need a little help during a period of hard times, then you need help. It's not as if you are planning to "rock" your food stamps for the rest of your life. People are just ridiculous.

  10. There's both stigma and judgment (entirely too much) attached to receiving government assistance. I will say it's difficult to watch some people go through check out and buy not only all manner of junk food with food stamps but to have the things that we can't afford (like iphones, or designer bags, or whatever) because we live on a teacher's salary... I still try hard not to judge... I have to agree though that are many people who work the system... when I see these same people get into a nearly new vehicle while I get into my 95 Jeep or my hubby's 84 Monte Carlo I don't know what else to think.

    I don't say that to sit in judgment of you or even those people (I try to tell myself that perhaps it's borrowed or rented because their real car is in the shop)... I really don't know the situation...

  11. Wow. Those ecards are ridiculous, but I was laughing at your honesty. I'm not sure if it's good I was laughing because it means in a round about way I feel like I'm laughing at the hardship you have to go through. Sometimes, I think people sometimes say those things because they are jealous that you have an iPhone or a Coach purse. Before we say things, we need to STOP and remind ourselves that we don't know the situation others are in. Thanks for sharing.

    FYI, I'm a nurse. What type of nursing do you hope to go into after graduating?

  12. Single Dad NOT on Food StampsJune 5, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    And just to be clear, I have full custody of my kids. And one has special needs. And no, I'm not forgoing food stamps to prove a point. I don't qualify. This is despite the fact that after I pay rent, daycare, utilities, and student loans, I'm left with just over $200/mo. for groceries. (I'll do the math for you, that's >$2.25/day each, assuming I never buy cleaning supplies.) For me and two kids. BTW, my car is over 10 years old. And no cable TV. I suppose I could ax the bottom-tier, super-slow internet. So I'm not sure if I'm jealous of your food stamps or your iPhone, as I have neither (my phone is a pre-paid Walmart job). Or maybe I'm jealous that the government deems you more deserving of my money than I am. Because I clearly don't need it.


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  15. I am writing a blog on this same subject 5 years XD I am a cashier at Walmart, and oh my F the amount of judgement I hear, even from former employees. I hope since you wrote this your graduated and have become a successfull nurse! ♥
    I actually found your blog when looking for pictures to go in my blog!