Why I Hate Food Stamps

Not long after my husband and I were married, we moved to St. Louis and rented a small two bedroom apartment one block off a larger through street in the city.  The rent was reasonable and we were dirt poor so it seemed too good to be true.  A few days after we moved in, we walked a few blocks to a corner market where the owner told us we shouldn’t be in there because we were the wrong skin color and it was too dangerous.  We soon came to find out our apartment building was on a corner where the other side of the street was gang territory.

We both were working $4.00/hour jobs. My husband was working in a small business retail establishment and I did temp work when I could.  We rarely ate out, we watched every penny, and we didn’t buy anything we didn’t need.  In the few months we lived there, my husband’s bike was stolen, my car window was smashed in, and a different car was stolen.  Neither of us had any medical insurance, our rent took up most of our after tax money, and we only did free things for entertainment.  Despite all of that, we never took a penny of government money.

We shopped at one of those very small inner city markets with a limited selection and bars on the windows.  Because we didn’t have a lot of money, we thought long and hard about what to buy.  We bought soup, hot dogs, hamburgers, cereal, and other cheap items.  There was no opportunity to buy steaks, seafood, or anything gourmet.  We often put things back at the last minute just to make sure there’d be enough money.

One day, we were standing in line behind an older women.  She was dressed nicely, had lots of gold jewelry, high end shoes, and very fancy nails.  I remember being embarrassed about my cheap sneakers, lack of jewelry, and my cheap food selections on the conveyor belt.  I had packages of seasoned oriental noodles that cost a quarter each.  She had several packages of fancy steaks, a lot of shrimp, and other gourmet goodies.  I remember standing there feeling incredibly jealous of what she was able to buy.

When it came time to pay, she reached into her purse, grabbed her wallet, and pulled out several food stamps.  She handed about a hundred dollars worth to the clerk and, in doing so, she dropped a food stamp.  For some reason I remember the food stamp she dropped as being worth $20 but that detail is a little fuzzy.  What I do know is the food stamp slipped between the edge of the conveyor belt and the rest of the checkout area.  The clerk, worried, offered to get the manager so they could figure out how to retrieve the food stamp.  The lady waived him off saying it was no big deal and that she didn’t need it.  There I was behind her, a tax payer, struggling to make ends meet and living paycheck to paycheck.  I would have loved to have that $20 food stamp.  I would have loved to have a nice steak and shrimp dinner.

It was at that moment I learned to hate food stamps.  How incredibly unfair for me to have to eat cheap noodles while paying taxes so that she could eat gourmet food compliments of the government.

Under Obama, the number of people on food stamps has skyrocketed.  Yet, there are people like me still pinching our pennies and clipping our coupons while people on food stamps are eating much better than us (while we are paying for it).  It’s not fair. It has to stop.

Take a good look at this receipt.  It’s real.  It’s legal to buy all that stuff, compliments of the taxpayers.  Remember this, dear taxpayer, when you vote.

food stamps


2 responses

  1. Wow, I am getting more and more mad by the moment. I am thinking of starting an association focused on petitioning the Federal government on these issues….

  2. This great essay brought back so many memories for me… it’s as if we had the same lousy jobs and lived in the same neighborhood. I remember people illegally turning in their food stamps for cash at the corner market and buying malt liquor along with cartons of cigarettes while I worked a creepy retail job selling products to people who did not work.
    I recall having dreams about food every night while I tried to save for paint and canvases to fulfill my dream of becoming a self supporting artist.

    -The pathetic irony for me was becoming disabled by a tick bite and placed on SSI. They could not wait to give me food stamps so they could cut the amount on my SSI payments.
    Sometimes I wonder why I worked so hard and played by the rules.

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