Monday, July 26, 2010

I feel old.

Yesterday, we were taking the imp to see my mother, and stopped at a convenience store to get some extra caffeine for my other half. I glanced up and noticed a small sticker on the door, just above the handle, that announced that they accept the modern equivalent of food stamps.

A convenience store that really doesn't have anything in its grocery section (candy, jerky, chips and cookies) takes food stamps.

I grew up on food stamps. They didn't used to be accepted by convenience stores that didn't sell bread and milk and such. They didn't count for alcohol.

Now they do.

What the fuck is wrong with this country? It was bad enough when I found out that a local pizza place that sells premade pizzas for people to take home accepts food stamps. It was worse when I found out that college students in larger cities go on food stamps so that they could afford gormet food. The Daily Caller reports that Portland State University states that food stamps aren't charity, but a right.

Oh. That explains it.

When my family was on food stamps, we got a thick envelope stuffed with 295 food dollars worth of food stamps. They worked like cash...but for the looks we got when my mother pulled them out. There used to be a stigma attached, especially to single, healthy adults--even those with children--that simply doesn't exist anymore, thanks to the EBT cards, which (unless someone is looking over the user's shoulder and sees them choose that option on the pin pad) looks identical to a debit card. See? No stigma. Nothing to see, here. Move along.

To tell the truth, I'm not sure the stigma that used to be attached to food stamps would do any good to get people off of the program, anymore. I'm pretty sure that modern Americans, those who apply for such, consider themselves completely entitled to live off of the hard work and paychecks of others.

Take, for example, the WIC program. Every time we go to buy baby food (less and less, as the imp insists on eating the same thing as we eat more and more), we have to edge past people looking through their WIC certificates as they get baby formula and baby food. And usually, there's an X-Box game in the cart.

My other half and I would qualify for WIC. I've been pressured to apply for it. I've even been told that my state offers mothers that nurse a higher dollar allowance with a wider variety of permitted/covered food than it does mothers who just chuck a can of cheap formula (or not so cheap formula) in the cart.

We both refuse. It's not because it wouldn't make things easier--the imp is, after all, still on Prevacid, which runs nearly a month's grocery budget by itself--but because we can cut luxuries from the budget, and still afford everything we need without government assistance.

I remember the shame of using food stamps.


  1. There were some stories earlier this year about how college kids were being encouraged to sign up for them.

    In one case, the student used their food stamps to "trade up" for organic rabbit meat (IIRC) and fancy produce. In another case, a student was quoted as saying something like "What do they expect us to eat? Macaroni and cheese?" (No, but apparently the middle-class families who are paying for such things are expected to do so.)

    I don't know. It makes me very sad. When I was in college, if someone had suggested food stamps to me, I would have responded with:

    a. No. That money needs to be saved for people who are REALLY having trouble and

    b. I can manage my own budget just fine thank you very much.

    And yeah, I ate a lot of mac and cheese and beans and rice when I was in college. It didn't kill me and I didn't feel like I was somehow horribly deprived. I was, in fact, grateful, that I could walk into the grocery and pay for enough food for the week.

  2. Same with me and my other half now. We sometimes feel like we're the only ones with a small child that isn't using WIC, and it really irritates me when I'm pressured to apply for it.


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