Monday, November 25, 2013
There was a period of time not so long ago that I was a recipient of SNAP, (aka food stamps.) I hate even writing it. I was finding it difficult to meet my monthly expenses in light of my income. I was priding myself on avoiding it until a group of girlfriends sat me down and explained it could temporarily help me through a rough patch and give the children and I a bit more help in a time of financial difficulty. Even so, I still fought signing up until my friends started sharing some of their personal stories in which they had needed to access those services during past times of financial stress. The reasons ranged from job loss, rent increases, seeking employment and long term illnesses. They reminded me that it was available to help in times of temporary need and pointed out the fact that I had contributed by paying into it during my times of employment. Long story short, it helped. Tremendously. I was very conscientious of what I purchased with my benefit. If I bought ice cream or chips for example, I paid with it out of my own account. I was very strict in only using the benefit for real food, not the funsie snack stuff I hold dear to my heart :) I was reading a rant the other day about someone who found a receipt in a grocery store parking lot. Upon reading it the person who found it noticed the purchases were made for SNAP benefits. They went on to share how disgusted they were when they saw what was purchased on the card. It was steak and lobster. There was an outrage over how dare someone use their benefits for such delicacies when others were working full time and didn't eat that luxuriously. You should have seen the hateful comments posted. It made me sick and since it is still bothering me 2 weeks later, I figured I better write it out to clear my mind. So anyway... back up the truck. First of all to whoever it was that wrote the article, what gives you the right to judge the person who made this purchase? You don't even know them! You found the receipt in a grocery store parking lot for flip's sake. I mean really, think about it. What gives someone the right to assume whether or not the person 'deserved' the food? Would it have been more appropriate to have purchased Oreos, Doritos and Soda? THat alone would have raised a whole other debate, to be sure. Yes, the benefit can be and still is, highly abused. I don't doubt that for a bit. However there are many who really utilize it in a responsible manner by couponing, sale shopping and choosing healthful options for their families. Back to the steak and lobster purchase. OK, consider this. Maybe they had found employment and were using the last of their benefit for a celebratory dinner. Perhaps there was a very special occasion they would not have been able to host. Perhaps it was their mother's last dying wish to eat steak and lobster before she died. Maybe it was a death row inmate requesting his last meal before the needle. The thing is, who knows and who the hell cares? It really isn't our place. This post is written for me as a reminder to step back and as Lucky says, 'extend compassion and grace.' It is one of my life lessons that I will always battle but will always believe it is worth the work.