At the grocery store I frequent, I don’t often see people in line with food stamps. In fact, I don’t think I ever have. I’d like to think I know how I’d behave if I did, which is to say it wouldn’t matter to me one whit, but then again I haven’t been in the situation, so how can I know for sure? Would I form an opinion about what items an individual was buying with the stamps? Would I wonder why they were using food stamps in the first place? Would I be annoyed if it made me wait longer in line?
I just loved this blog post from Dresden Plaid at her blog Creating Motherhood titled, “Food Stamp Etiquette: Human Kindness.” Dresden writes about some of the judgment and shame she experienced when utilizing this program to buy food to feed her own family.
Dresden shares five important lessons learned from using food stamps over the last two years, a program for which she now no longer qualifies. One is the concept that “food stamp chic” is offensive. She writes:
“I can’t tell you how awful it is to see someone writing about their creative menu planning for the month and saying it is an homage to the sort of budgeting that one has to/should do while on food stamps. There are tons of sites that dedicate posts to ‘food stamp challenges’ or ‘snap challenges’ and while I get the desire to create a challenge for yourself or your own family, at the end of the day if you need to buy one more carton of milk beyond your budget chances are that you can.”
More than 44 million Americans — or 12% of all American households — use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. The number keeps rising with no end in sight to the country’s economic troubles. According to the Carsey Institute, single parents like Dresden have some of the highest need for this benefit: “In 2010, 42% of single mothers and 25% of single fathers relied on SNAP; in rural places, the rate was as high as one in two single mothers.”
The average monthly SNAP benefit for a household in 2010 was $289.61, which comes out to about ten dollars a day. For a family. That’s not much. Consider that the American Farm Bureau says the average cost of a Thanksgiving meal this year is $49.20.
On this week before Thanksgiving, when everyone is focused on menus and traditional food items and shopping lists, I am so appreciative that Dresden shared her experience and her wisdom. Visit her blog and read her five points of food stamp etiquette. The subject is one I hadn’t thought a lot about until she shared her experience, so she helped opened my eyes to something that can happen to anyone at any time.
Looking for ways to budget? Check out Babble’s Top 10 Budget-Conscious Food Bloggers!