what i want you to know about being on food stamps

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest posts is by Abby.

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What I want you to know is I never dreamed that my family would ever be on food stamps. What I want you to know is how much it hurts the looks that I get from others when I am at the store and pull out my EBT card. How I feel like I have to try extra hard to be patient with my kids and be friendly with the cashier so they can see that I am a good person. It is hard when you were just having a nice conversation with the cashier and all of the sudden they stop talking and start being rude. Up until that point you were equals, after they see you are on food stamps now you are just less than.

I want you to know that we have made good choices, that we don't live in excess, we don't even have a TV or internet at our house. Our money goes to pay our bills, no extra frills at all, this was a last resort choice. My husband had a good job, but he quit because his boss was asking him to do illegal things. He has struggled to find a job and so we struggle to make ends meet every month. Two weeks ago we had 4 cents in our bank account and no money in savings.

What I want you to know is how hard it is to wonder if you will be able to feed your kids today or pay your bills tomorrow. It is hard to ask for help and even though many seem to think that people "live off the system" it is hard to get help from those who are offering, there are so many hoops to jump through. What I want you to know is how many others I have met on this journey who are in similar positions who would change anything they could if it meant that they could afford to put food on the table or pay the bills themselves. My husband works 4 part time jobs because it is so hard to even get one full time job in our area. This is not a choice that we made to be lazy and live off the system.

What I want you to know is how hard it is to cheat the system, there are so many things set in place that make it practically impossible. What I want you to know is that this is not the life 98% of us in this situation would choose. I know you are probably seeing it all over the place, especially with elections coming up, that people are sick of those who are "living off the system". Please do your own research, don't jump on the band wagon, understand how the welfare system works (check this link out: http://www.welfareinfo.org/). Meet those people that are on the system, I bet if you knew me outside of my grocery routine you would never even guess how hard we struggle to put food on the table and make ends meet. In fact most of my friends have no idea because I don't want them to worry about us or think that we need a hand out.

So next time you think to complain about taxes or those who "live off the system" remember many of them are just like you. We want to be treated like normal people, not like a charity case or someone who is lazy. We work hard and desperately want to provide for our families that we love.

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