She was using food stamps! Why doesn't she work? Those are MY tax dollars!

I will never forget it.
I was judging!!!

I watched as she absently scanned 2 lunchables, a carton of Capri-Sun, some individual applesauce pouches, a single serving of some soda product and a pack of mixed nuts. ( do you KNOW how expensive those are?? and how processed those lunchables are anyway??)
Come on, wouldn't it be easier and cheaper to make a couple of sandwiches, have some reusable cups and portion containers and get virtually the same meal?  
Her children were a little disheveled and good god I don't think she ever brushes their hair.
They were also not under control but arguing back and forth.
To be honest it was rather annoying and I thought why doesn't she intervene??
But wonder of wonders, they were on electronics.
They have welfare, but still have money for that apparently.  
She had some kind of Vera Bradley purse herself and was dressed rather nice.
Then she pulled it out.  That food stamp card.  Too bad it wasn't still that fake looking monopoly money they used to use.
Maybe a little more shame involved and people wouldn't want to use food stamps.

Why does she need food stamps if they have electronics and she has name brand stuff??
Really this woman should have thought about that.  Planned it out better.  At least used her welfare with more consideration since hardworking tax payers pay for her and her kids.

Then the man at the register said "Ma'am, you can't pay for gas with food stamps!"
She looked around kind of embarrassed (Good!) and pulled out some cash and I heard her mumble something about being tired and rushing to an appointment.
Okay whatever lady, not our problem.
Stop having kids.
Are you even married?
Do they have the same father?
And this is where I stop and ask, has anyone reading this ever thought/said these things when they see someone paying with "welfare"?
Be honest?  Most of us have judged this at one time or another.

What if I were to tell you that the above story was true about me??
Because, it IS me in the story.  It was me.
I was the women paying with "welfare".
Yes I (and others) have been told that we should only be able to buy things like rice, beans, and flour (a whole other debate).
Some think we should still do that old school "money" so we would be more inclined to "get off the system".  I kid you not, that has been said to me.
We should get education and jobs.
I have both! 
I did embellish was someone may or may not have been thinking.
However I have heard MANY people say these things about others they have seen paying with government assistance at one time or another.
When I tell them that I have received help, I get the standard response, "well you're different.  You really need it.  But most abuse it."

Or something similar.
My next question is do you know every single person receiving benefits?   Do you know their story?
That answer is probably no.

And let me be clear that I do NOT think there is an easy answer on ALL sides of this.  
However I am just calling for people to be more mindful despite our political climate.

That day was fuzzy to me mostly, except for that moment in time where a long line formed behind me at the register and I quietly and quickly tried to get my shopping done because I was running David to another specialist appointment to see if the new round of chemo or weekly injections would be the next course of action for him.

I had left work early to get him at school.  I pulled into WaWa to get a quick lunch for them and fill up on gas before heading to Nemours in Orlando.
Yes I could have absolutely done better with making "from scratch" food.  I don't claim to try to fully justify my decisions.
However getting up at 5:30am, getting myself ready, making sure 2 kiddos get ready, and David gets all the meds he needs, going to work and then running this errand in the early afternoon was already leaving me exhausted in the middle of a WORK week.

All this to say.

Here I am an educated woman with a Master's Degree.  I made just below the "income" cutoff to get a few SNAP benefits.
Let me educate you a bit on SNAP.  By SNAP (as the state defines it) is Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
It is not meant to and does not supply all groceries needed (at least for our home) for a month.  It's just what it says "SUPPLEMENTAL".

I tell you that, in hopes if you are one that has caught yourself judging, that you realize NO ONE is getting rich on "welfare".
I PROMISE you get so much per person and that is it.

Is it still flawed and have many issue??  YES!  Of course, however these urban myths of welfare queens and kings MUST stop.
Yes people HAVE abused the system.  I can assure you the help they get from the government does NOT mean a "lifestyles of the rich and famous" type life though.
It IS possible that SOME, not ALL have made money on the side in one way or another without reporting it.  YES that is ILLEGAL and wrong.

But statistically those receiving assistance of some kind (whether SNAP, Medical, and/or Cash) are the "working poor".  Like myself.

There are guidelines to even getting assistance.  I do hope people realize that you must either be engaged in looking for work legitimately (and trust me the system treats you like you are guilty until proven innocent in this.  I lived it first hand while applying for Unemployment for just 6 weeks). 
You have to continuously check in and show up and PROVE that you looked for jobs.
OR you had to be working. 
They do not, contrary to popular belief, give money out for free.
Unless you are on disability you are considered able bodied and must work!

Okay back to the story.
The cashier did indeed loudly say "you can't pay for gas with food stamps."  I already knew this and had my cash out.  Why the cashier picked that moment, in front of my sons who were YES, a bit disheveled and arguing among themselves, and in front of a long line of other customers.
I looked around quickly and saw people's eyes darting away.
And I was so very embarrassed.  I felt like I was treated again like some low life who was "mooching" off the system.

I handed him the cash and I did mumble about being exhausted and headed to a doctor's appointment.  I tried to make some lame excuse so he did not think I was stupid.

I hurried out, got in the car, and told myself I AM worth something and my boys deserve better.

Please, please, please, realize when you judge, or post, or think these thoughts, it could be or could have been about me and my family.

You just never know!
You really do not.

I have before, tried to explain that I AM educated AND work, only to be met with "well then get a better job!"
People can not seem to win either way.

People on all sides are going to pass judgement in some way.
I get that.
Yet I do hope again that my own story makes at least one person more mindful in that grocery store line.
To someone on the outside, yes they saw my kids a mess while I was put together (the kids needed haircuts but I didn't have money to get them).
I had a Vera Bradley purse (that my MOTHER had given me).
I had on a nice outfit (thanks to a friend's hand me downs)
I drive a decent car (thanks to a monthly payment so I have something SAFE to drive back and forth to the hospital for David).

Look the truth is.  I NEVER expected myself to be in this position.  Divorced (yes their dad is GREAT about helping THEM!  But I'm me.  He does not owe me.)
But I'm here.  A one income family and learning to budget better (I admit I'm not the greatest, BUT I also do NOT deserve to stand in judgement by someone else looking down at their nose at me).

Time, life, situations, have humbled me in many ways. 
Your life can change in a day.  One day I was happily married, 2 incomes, we were doing pretty well.
The next the world came crashing down.

Pride comes first then the fall.
No one is immune.
Less judgement.
More compassion.

More empathy.
More love.
For our "neighbors".
Remember, this is MY family that (general) you are talking about.


  1. Thank you so much for posting this story! I know you & love you for the kind, intelligent woman & mom you are! This story needs to get to so many people that just don't "get it" or lack the compassion gene.

    1. Thank you so much for kind words. We certainly can not forsee where the road will always take us. However it does have a way of teaching us humility and compassion.


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