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The stigma of government assistance

Yesterday evening, and well into the night I wasn't doing that well. I couldn't keep my focus on one thing. Finally I just let go....and that's when I was able to focus. I was able to get my dishes done and gather two loads of laundry, one of which was done and put up today. I tore through the house and cleaned like a fool. I watched some Acorn TV, which I have found terribly disappointing.

I got out and went to the store today. I'm on a roll I think. I got all my groceries and then went to pay for them not realizing it's the 4th, not the 5th when I have benefits. I couldn't pay and had to put everything back! Not a happy camper. I'm going to go back out tomorrow and get the stuff.

I'm a bit worried about this month's finances. Everything is paid in full.  Mary Jane has everything she needs. The frogs have worms bred here, but after everything has been paid including purchasing medication, I have $9 to my name until the 3rd of December. I wonder how people do it with more responsibilities than I have? I get Social Security Disability and food stamp assistance. This is the first time in a long time I've actually been more than a little worried.

Before I realized this month's electric bill would be so high, I purchased a $30 water filter. Dragging drinkable water up the stairs isn't for me, so the water filter was a need, as I see it. That was a cash purchase.

I spend my food assistance very well. I know I choose different things than others and my culinary background comes into play.  I'll choose a small cut of salmon over a pack of hot dogs. I'll make my own bread as opposed to purchasing it. The vast majority of my tea collection was purchased with food benefits. I use it for everything from anti-anxiety to sleep to, women's issues such as hot flashes, to stomach problems, to just something to drink. Culinary school did me a world of good in being able to choose healthier stuff and have a wide range of choices instead of hamburger helper and junk like that.

I never said I want to be destitute. I said I want to have enough and that I know how to be content. At this moment, all my financial needs met except for the purchase of a bottle of red wine. This time I'm not kidding about alcohol. I'm usually joking when I talk about whisky and vodka and all that. It's a health choice of which I have many. I can skip the wine this month knowing I have dark skinned fresh fruits, quality dark chocolate, good sources of fish, various dried legumes and of continue my various teas. All these sources of healthy foods can be purchased with what's known as the food stamp program.

Now that I'm going on and on about this I figure I'll stay on this subject because I've been meaning to write about it for awhile. It's a bit uncomfortable to talk about to tell you the truth. Am I ashamed? Um, well, it's not my first choice. There are a lot of complications one of which is public perception. Without even knowing who I am or my health status, there's a pervasive attitude that I should only purchase certain foods (beans, rice, dry milk, spaghetti, hamburger, hot dogs) and that I should keep my head down.

Seriously. The comments some people make when I purchase fresh salmon instead of hot dogs or find a nice cut of beef and get that instead of bologna would anger most thinking people. I avoid social media conversations on this subject because someone always has an example of seeing a person pull up in a Cadillac and then purchase something with food stamps. Someone always says a person purchased lobster, shrimp or crab on food stamps when the working person can't. I stay away from those conversations because they aren't designed to help reasonable people see us as their equal instead of a fraudulent freeloader.

Another misconception is that their tax dollars are feeding me. Um, no they're now. I WORKED full time as a chef. I paid my student loans back. I put into the social security program which is why I get Social Security and not SSI. But even if I didn't work a day in my life it doesn't mean I should be marked with stigma for needing government assistance. Let us not forget, when the economy crashed and we had a second Great Depression, 7 out of 10 families in the United States required assistance to put food on the table. We're just people, everyday people.

One of the best things I have going for me is my ability to think! I often think too much but at least I think. I think beyond stigmas placed on so many social issues. Poverty is a social issue as well as a health issue. Even so, the choices I make for food are mine. I won't shy away from purchasing a red pear even though I can get 3 small apples for the same price. I can purchase 3 packages of cheap cookies for the same price as one package of quality dark chocolate. I can purchase 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $6 or get 3 lbs of 70/30 ground beef. Guess whose getting the chicken? Uh huh, me. And heck yes, if I again see Starbucks knocked down to $4 I'm snagging that bad boy instead of Folgers. Darn skippy!

I will purchase fresh spinach. I will purchase fresh kale and other fresh vegetables. I will purchase better fruits, quality nuts, quality dry legumes. And I will continue to do so without feeling like less of a person for needing assistance. Comments come from cashiers as well as customers, and it happens often. I ignore a lot of that stupidity, but many feel the sting of such harsh judgement. I ask you to remember not to judge the person in line ahead of you. You don't know their situation and really, it's their choice to purchase what they see fit.

Last call for tea is at 8pm. Gotta run.
Faith

No need to feel nervous, comment if you'd like.

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