Thursday, May 19, 2011

Omnihomeful Chronicles Part IV - A Word About Food Stamps and Welfare

Lately, there has been a lot of news about modifying what types of items recipients are allowed to buy with their food stamps and welfare benefits.  There seems always to be a concern about people buying sodas and candy with their food stamps and about buying liquor and cigarettes with their welfare cash.

I admit, I have bought some candy and cookies with mine, but for the most part, I buy healthy food.  Is it wrong for people down on their luck to have a Butterfinger or a bag of Frosted Circus Animal Cookies?  I say no!  One thing that people don't think about when they think about food stamps is that a large percentage of recipients are homeless.  There are lots of rules about what you cannot buy, including any hot food or fast food.  Because homeless people rarely have stoves or microwaves or refrigerators, this puts a huge limit on what they can eat.  They have to buy expensive pre-wrapped prepared sandwiches, salads, and other cold items available in the deli section of the grocery store.  You know those hot rotisserie chickens you like to buy for an easy meal tonight?  Homeless people can't buy those with food stamps.  That's why the store also carries cold ones.  Some stores, like Target, won't let you put any deli items on your food stamps.  This is where the welfare benefits come in handy.  Welfare in Sacramento County is about $200 per month after the $40 deduction for Indigent Medical Care and the $10 deduction for a bus pass (whether or not you need one).  $200 is not a lot of money to buy all of your personal care items like shampoo, toilet paper, deoderant, wet wipes for those necessary spit baths; your occassional need for hot food not covered by food stamps; your cell phone bill so you can stay in touch with friends and family, doctors and creditors; and for those lucky enough to own a car, gas and insurance.  Seriously!  Could you make $200 stretch that far?  So, yes, sometimes people just gotta have their cigarettes, and some desperate souls must have their alcohol, but for the most part, welfare recipients are buying things that you buy everyday without batting an eyelash.

Okay, I will step down from my soapbox now.  Just wanted to give the folks concerned about misuse of welfare a little reality check.  Please remember this next time you bite into a Snickers or have a glass of cabernet with dinner.


M said...

I had no idea that this was the case with food stamps. I too find frosted circus animal cookies to be comforting...a comfort that should be allowed to anyone who needs them!

Anonymous said...

Dear Kathleen,
In Michigan, what we can buy w/food stamps is also very limited. While not homeless, my food card does not allow for the purchase of those necessities for keeping personal hygiene - soap, deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste. Laundry soap, dishwashing soap (no dishwasher here)
Buying canned peanuts, nuts, dried fruit, cranberries, cherries, raisins... Cold canned green beans are one of my favorites sbacks - finger food. Does require a manual can opener!
Time for a phone call? Love you, thinking of you. Big Hugs!

jinxxxygirl said...

Its because your not suppose to stay on food stamps or welfare very long...its called get a job.........

Birthing Your Creative Fire said...

jinxxxygirl, I appreciate your opinion. Believe me, no one would want to stay on welfare any longer than absolutely necessary. At $180 per month for welfare where I live, it inspires very creative solutions to a difficult situation, and lots of motivation to overcome. Most of the people I met at the welfare office were not able to work either due to disability (takes at least 18 months to get a final SSA determination here) or long-term chronic unemployment despite a strong desire to work. Most of the chronically unemployed had had good jobs with a long career, university degrees, and were over 50 years old. Things that make you go hmmmm. I'm glad for you that you have never had to experience this for yourself, and I sincerely hope you never have to.