Tomorrow’s breakfast and lunch are both put together. Birthday debauchery day is done, and thanks to BUREAUCRACY! I’m staring at a month sans Link assistance—meaning $35/10 days is the food budget until they fix it. (You don’t live on minimum wage—you scrape.) Luckily the problem is fixable in 2 weeks and I played Stockpile this month, so I have a nice little stash of frozen meat and meat-alikes packed for just such an emergency.
I hear people all the time griping about people gaming the system, and I will admit, the system does have a few huge, glaring flaws—but most of the complaining I hear is ‘Oh, this person bought a bag of chips and a peach soda, they don’t NEED that program’ and not on the real problems, which is the people you catch trafficking their benefits for an equivalent amount of things that aren’t eligible. While for some this can include drugs and alcohol, it just as often involves things like diapers and straight out cash.
I’ve seen it. People I know have been there. (I was always too paranoid to do it, even if it meant I was going without the meds that kept my foot from being one giant blister.) And while there needs to be some reform to the system, griping when a guy buys a Twinkie—wait, those don’t exist…OK, an apple pie—and a Red Bull instead of some celery and a bit of meat? That solves nothing.
What people do not seem to realize is that SNAP benefits—the formal name for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps—are not meant to be the sole source of food. They’re there as much needed assistance—as I said earlier, you don’t live on minimum wage you scrape.
“But Rai!” I hear you say. “Why would a single woman even need such things?”
I’ll tell you!
Congratulations! You’re me on payday! You skip into the building to pick up your paycheck (Let’s call it weird and say that you have the day off for some unknown reason). Timing couldn’t be better, since rent’s also due this week (we’ll assume the beginning of the month). You open the envelope to discover that you have—oh, generous hours—$360 to work with. Sounds nice, right? Keep in mind that this is an atypical check. Maybe the great Dogakittenspacewestern Con was in town.
Got the check still? Good. Let’s run along, shall we, to the bank/grocer. You deposit the whole damn thing, because you’re paranoid about losing cash. All transactions will be on a card now.
- Your rent’s due! That’s $170. But there’s a $5 service fee for the secured money order. You’re down to $185 now—which hurts, and you try not to think about that as you put the rent money order in your wallet.
- A text message pops off—your phone bill is due in four minutes (ok, maybe an exaggeration, but it IS due that day). You reply to the message and pay the bill—the dollar sign with wings flies off of your screen as $61 leaves your clutches. You’re down to $124, now.
- Did you remember the bus pass? If not, now’s the only time you’ve got! For a month, that’s $72 bucks! You now have $52 to work with. Now the only thing left–
- –is light bill—oh. Wait. You’re four bucks short, actually. If it wasn’t for the fact that you put that $5 from your tips in with the paycheck, you wouldn’t be able to pay that $58 bastard.
You begin the month on a loss, therefore, before you’ve bought so much as a bag of chips and a bottle of vitamin c-fortified punch to keep your blood sugar from dragging its busted-up legs across the ground just to beg you for a morsel.
…you’d be screwed if it wasn’t for that program now.
Next paycheck is more forgiving—you have paid off the biggest bills—but it would’ve been dicey.
Now keep in mind that there are people who want to discontinue this program. All because they got cheesed off that someone bought something that wasn’t leafy green with their benefits/assistance.
Go ahead. Discontinue. Opt out. But what the HELL am I supposed to do?
Don’t pass blanket judgements based on one person. You don’t know what they’re coming from, what they’re trying to do. The guy who just bought Doritos and Monster Zero-Cal Energy Drink on his card might’ve just spent the last of his cash on his meds.