When I first started talking about clean eating on the web, back when the blog was in its infancy, I had someone reach out to me and ask me, if this is what it means to healthily lose weight, what does this meant for people who were on food stamps.
And, at that time, I had not a single clue. Not even half a clue.
Doing the reading and the research was what effectively took me from someone blogging my own experiences to someone talking about the experiences of others and inviting them to share. It really was the start of developing a more compassionate self – understanding someone else’s challenges and ways in which I may not only negatively contribute to them, but the ways in which I can [oftentimes painlessly] help others, let alone advocate for their stories to be heard.
Thanks to those of you who’ve filled out the surveys that came through with the Clean Eating Boot Camp, I have a pretty good estimate of what percentage of you are making use of these services, and its why I’m keeping the boot camp recipes so simple – good food doesn’t require every ingredient in the kitchen to make it happen, and there are inexpensive ways to get your kitchen to that “stocked and stacked” status without breaking the bank. Learning about experiences that differ from mine has helped me keep that perspective.
That being said, I was far more invested in writing about food stamps (now known as SNAP) a few years ago than I am today, and that’s partly because the old threads on food stamps are still going strong, but not with actual valuable, meaningful critique. No.
And I’m not usually dismissive and easily irritated by ridiculousness on the web – I mean, hello… it’s the web – but man. Talking about food stamps and poverty brings out all the stupid. All of it.
It is draining to deal with. It is draining. I’ve caught myself snapping on comments on other blog posts because they came right after I had to debate back and forth with someone in a food stamp post comments thread.
But, with all the recent foolishness going on with SNAP cuts in our government, someone asked me why I wasn’t blogging about it. Honestly, because I’ve been avoiding it. Here’s why:
1) If you are poor, people assume it must be because you make shitty choices in finances and, therefore, must be controlled, regulated and micromanaged. Because poverty. So many people’s life experiences have taught them that everyone has the same quality of education, the same access to education, the same access to jobs, the same access to life. Because, of course, we’re all equal, and this is what life looks like in an equal society. So, if you’re poor, it must be because you failed somewhere where they did not, and must be in need of their guidance. You’re probably lazy, pathologically so. Because’ that’s not stereotypically racist. Not at all.
Want an example?
You know I got ’em.
In the comments thread for Who’s Buying Starbucks with Food Stamps?, Lo wrote the following:
I liked some of what you say especially the government’s role in high prices for healthy food but not all of it..as an African immigrant who came to the US with nothing, poorer than the people in the ghettos but have gone on to be successful through HARD WORK, I fail to sympathize with black Americans who still today want to play the slavery card “country built on our backs”…it wasnt your back. You have soo many resources, free education and etc to change your socioeconomic circumstances. Millions of immigrants are coming in worst conditions than you and they are the ones representing the minority classes in colleges across the US and going on to become the middle class of america while you continue to sit in the ghettos and complain. Own up to your irresponsibilit(ies)
Of course, I responded:
“…it wasn’t built on YOUR back.”
Mama, I appreciate you in your benevolent Africanness coming and sharing your perspective, but stop with the foolishness. This country and its economy was built with the unpaid labor of African slaves. That is, without question, on the back of Blacks. We can talk about what that means for the descendents of slaves and slave-owners, or we can talk about what that resulted in for people – like immigrants – who are able to benefit from the resources present here. But to deny the impact that unpaid labor has on the evolution of a country’s economy denies not only Black Americans the right to both our struggles and our victories, but it denies the importance of the very real and present problem of unpaid labor in this country TODAY.
Yes, even with all our resources, free education and etc, not everyone is granted the same quality of such – money makes a difference – and some of us work jobs and don’t even get the pennies we rightfully earned…. even when we were the embodiment of HARD WORK, as you so eloquently put it.
You get to have your own opinion, and I love to see differing ones appear here! You don’t get to create your own facts. Not ever.
Also: “hard work” is not exclusive to Africans or exclusive OF Black Americans. I could run down my own resume, but the fact that you found MY blog and were granted space to share YOUR slightly bigoted opinion because of MY hard work seems like plenty.
Also: Let’s stop playing games here. In order to migrate from one country o another means you not only had MAJOR resources, but MAJOR connections. Which means you could be pennies in the couch poor, and still do fine. “Poor people in the ghettoes” can’t say the same. Do you even KNOW any poor people in the ghettoes? ROFL
2) Even talking about SNAP is a dog whistle for people who want to crawl out from whatever hole they live in, and let the disgusting flow of their racism stink up the conversation. No, really. SNAP talks are really the holy grail of opportunity for racists to have a ball. What better opportunity to conflate “lazy” with “poor” and conflate them all with being black? To the point where “poor” and “black” are so interchangeable, that we don’t even bother differentiating anymore. All black people are poor, and all poor people are black. You bourgie negroes and your upward mobility be damned.
3) Since #YouPoorPeople are in need of guidance, these people feel they should be granted the right to control your every purchase, simply by the virtue of not being poor. It doesn’t matter if they’re living paycheck to paycheck, insane credit card debt, whatever. They don’t have to be beacons of financial judiciousness. They just have to not be poor, like you.
Seeing a poor person buying a sheet of birthday cake isn’t indicative of someone who saved their money or EBT funds to be able to celebrate a special day for a loved one. It’s indicative of poor people pathology, something that We Un-Poor People should correct. With regulation. Even though regulation isn’t the answer.
Where I’m from, I generally picture a Hispanic woman with 4 kids using wic or snap. And I’m hispanic. What angers me is there aren’t enough limitations to food stamps and snap. And people misuse the system irregardless of race and color and any other ethnicity. I’m sorry, but you should not be able to buy a full sheet $50 birthday cake on tax payer dime, and yes that has happened before. I am a manager of one of the licensed Safeway Starbucks. I don’t think people on food stamps should be reduced to eating ramen noodles all the time, but I [don’t] get any discount or handout on Starbucks and I don’t think anyone should, (besides being in the rewards program and the benefits along with that). I think the government should be spending our tax money digging us out of the multi trillion dollar deficit this administration has dug us in. I also think the author of this article should get the racist chip off her shoulder and quit assuming everyone sees “poor” as “black”.
This is so stupid.
You mean to tell me that in a society that finds it acceptable to fantasize about what it’d be like to be a poor black kid and basically imply that the reason why those kids don’t succeed is because they’re lazy, the SAME argument that HAS been said about Blacks in this country for centuries; the same country where its praised writers fantasize about “studying intelligence amongst the races” IN TWO THOUSAND ELEVEN, and refuse to be talked down from this; the same country where it’s perfectly acceptable for candidates for office to say “I don’t want to give Black people your money” in regards to closing down medicare and social security, knowing DAMN well whites make up at LEAST 79% of that user base…
You mean it’s only racist when a BLACK woman points this shit out?
Damn! White people get ALL the luck out here!
The fact that you put ANY race on the use of food stamps let’s me know more than what I need to know about you, “Hispanic” or not. Maybe you should think about that before you try to identify what kind of chip I have on my shoulder.
4) The assumption is always that it’s a non-white person abusing the system, while simultaneously praising Native Americans for not taking SNAP. This is little more than stereotypes masquerading as political commentary. Native Americans are so “noble,” taking the consequences of colonization on the chin like champs. Meanwhile, The Blacks are just pathologically lazy, still begging for somebody to give them something for doing nothing (remember the days when they were doing everything and getting nothing? why can’t we go back to those days again?), and the Illegals, bringing their anchor babies and their drug cartels across the border, using up our health care and our food stamps.
All that this thinking does, is let people off the hook for doing the intellectual and emotional heavy lifting of understanding what America’s history has done to large swaths of people across the globe. Heaven forbid we acknowledge that a system perpetuates certain problems. We might actually have to – gasp! – address the system. I know, quelle horreur!
Funny how we seem to forget native Americans that were killed and took over their land when they worked so hard to establish food sources. Or the hundreds if not thousands of Mexican immigrants being paid under the table at less than minimum wage to provide what little money they can send home to their families. My grandfather immigrated here from Spain at 7, never learned to read and write but worked till his dying day, which was 2 weeks ago, to provide a better future for his kids and grand kids. And never once took a handout from anyone, government or otherwise. He used what he had till it broke, fixed it and used it again till it couldn’t be fixed.
But that’s overshadowed by people again with a chip in their shoulder about something that happens hundreds of years ago and didn’t even happen to them.
And so, I responded:
Do you think the only people on government assistance are these mythical “people with chips on their shoulder about something that happens hundreds of years ago and didn’t even happen to them?”
Are you really comparing Blacks to Native Americans, who DO, in fact, receive government assistance? Both parties who, if you want to be REALLY nasty about this, were victimized by colonizers who were too lazy to do their own work? Both parties who BOTH are living with the ramifications of the actions of said colonizers TODAY? LMAO
Are you really attempting to compare Blacks to Mexican Immigrants, being paid under the table because they are, assumedly, undocumented? I’m sorry, but Black Americans are, in fact, AMERICANS. CITIZENS. THAT is why they’re not “taking handouts.” As undocumented immigrants, they COULDN’T even if they NEEDED it. LMAOOOOO
You are really struggling with the racism today, my dear, but you’ll need to go struggle with it ELSEWHERE and stop wasting my bandwidth and server space with your sorrowful logic. Leave. Stop reading my comment. Go pick up a book. ANY book. And don’t come back until you do. In fact… just don’t come back. At. All.
WOOOO LMAO The struggle with the logic! I can’t take it! LMAO!
Ch…bonus points for the “being black and pointing out racism is racist!” card. Yes, I hereby dub THAT a card, as well.
5) These conversations bring out your friendly neighborhood patriot-slash-xenophobe… who also happens to live near the border.
First off EBT snap is food stamps. EBT other is their disability checks, child support checks, and any cash benefits they get. After spending 5 1/2 years in the navy just to get out and not have much in qualifications or most people don’t want to hire you because they think a vet has mental issues, alcohol or drug problems. I don’t fit those categories. I live in Seattle Wa. I live on food stamps but can’t buy hot food and don’t have access to showers, free meals from churches every day. I can’t cook food or heat up food all the time. If I had the option to buy mcdonalds dollar menu items compared to $6 for a cold meal stores I would rather spend $3 on 3 sandwiches than spend $6 on 1 that = 2 off the dollar menu. With EBT food stamps I can only spend $6 a day for only one meal off $200 a month. As of November it’s $189 a month. I paid taxes when I had a job. What upsets me more is that I see illegal immigrants with brand new cars decked out with all the nice things and on food stamps living in a house with 2 or more families getting free medical benefits and a bunch of other free stuff but a poor family has to eat tomato juice and noodles for dinner. I would rather have my taxes go to legal residents than illegals. I see pregnant women getting their cars repowed but an illegal has a $15 an hour job. When I was living in Arizona I got turned down for a $10-15 an hour job because I couldn’t speak Spanish. Instead of cutting food stamps back why not cut off illegals on free rides. I eat once a day more if I can get to a church meal. I live in my truck it’s not easy to find places to park close to food. In some places it’s over a mile to any store. If you want to complain about taxes then why not about illegals getting free rides, tax-less jobs sending most of their money back to Mexico instead of putting it back into circulation in the USA. Instead of complaining about your taxes being spent on fast food find out which EBT is allowed there. Snap= food stamps or the other one.
Here’s the problem with your comment:
“What upsets me more is that I see illegal immigrants with brand new cars decked out with all the nice things and on food stamps living in a house with 2 or more families getting free medical benefits and a bunch of other free stuff”
1) How do you know they’re “illegal?”
2) How do you know they’re on food stamps?
3) If they’re truly “illegal,” they’re not eligible for food stamps.
Please don’t let your hatred of Mexicans – because, let’s face it, that’s who we are talking about when we talk about ‘illegal immigrants” – compel you to spout lies. You don’t know what a person uses to survive. And, quite frankly, if a person is living in a house with 8 other people, chances are damned high they’re not going to buy a “new car” the first chance they get.
“I see pregnant women getting their cars repowed but an illegal has a $15 an hour job.”
How do you know what an “illegal” makes? Be clear – MANY “illegals” work at establishments that might PAY $15, but since THEY are undocumented, they wind up working for FAR less under the threat of deportation.
Pregnant women might be getting their cars repo’ed because they’re not paying their bills or they’re not being in touch with their lender about the status of their finances. And, if you did any research, you’d know that damn near any job offering up $15/hr in THIS day and age is asking for a college degree, something an “illegal immigrant” can’t provide. And, if they DO in fact have a $15/hr job? Kudos to them for getting there first. Maybe, instead of railing against “illegals” on the Internet, you should be spending some time assisting pregnant women who get their cars repossessed in getting $15/hr jobs, too.
“When I was living in Arizona I got turned down for a $10-15 an hour job because I couldn’t speak Spanish.”
You weren’t qualified to provide service to at least a quarter of the state’s population, and that says NOTHING of whether or not the entirety of that Spanish-speaking population all lives in the SAME city. Why would you be hired by anyone who wants to remain in business?
“Instead of cutting food stamps back why not cut off illegals on free rides.”
Have you ever looked at – I mean, TRULY looked at – how much money the “illegals” are costing the US government, in the grand scheme of things?
“I live in my truck it’s not easy to find places to park close to food.”
And, yet, you somehow found my blog and the time to comment. I’m honored.
“tax-less jobs sending most of their money back to Mexico”
Boy, it sounds like we really need to be going after these tax-less job-offering employers and penalizing them, huh?
“Instead of complaining about your taxes being spent on fast food find out which EBT is allowed there.”
In the midst of all of your ranting about “illegals,” you must’ve missed that we were originally talking about food stamps… not, in fact, EBT, which is merely the card through which financially-based government benefits are transferred (hence the “T” in “EBT.”)
Please do something about your hate. The same Google search that brought you to my blog could EASILY be used to change that ignorance into intelligence. It really isn’t that hard.
I’m tired too Erika, but I thank you for fighting the good fight. All that you do with this blog, to even consider the plight of others, hats of to you. I think in all that’s been said, this one point is something that the naysayers never seem to acknowledge (but you said it best):
“It affects our economy. SNAP benefits not only subsidize the poor, but they subsidize your local businesses, too.”
Anyway, isn’t it a wonder that trying to help people live better, healthier lives is only acceptable if it’s by and through the standards of others. Gotta love the smell of hypocrisy. Like shit on roses.
I just recently found your blog and today’s post gave me LIFE!!! I enjoy reading posts that are intelligent and factually on point!!! I understand how the comments to your posts would drain you of any iota of a desire to write about this topic. but I GREATLY enjoyed every last response to those misinformed (or in some cases completely uninformed) commenters. Thank you!!
Yep. I ditto exactly what you said – it’s just how society likes to picture “only minorities” using food stamps inefficiently because they’re lazy or “only minorities” stealing from the government.
I believe that most people on food stamps need them. And in my personal experience, I’ve never seen any minorities with food stamps (at least in my communities – New Orleans, New York, DC, SF / Oakland) dressed in the most recent ridiculously expensive jeans while in the grocery store using food stamps…
Thanks to my ex-gf though, my eyes have been opened to white people using food stamps while “decked out”. My ex worked at Whole Foods and was one of those girls that desperately wanted to buy expensive purses she could never afford (you know, the one’s for $3k or $10k). Pretty soon I noticed expensive bags too and I would recall how much they cost. Mind you, these encounters happened in Tribeca in NYC – my ex was a cashier and one day she told me “Guess what? Today I was checking out this girl and she had XYZ bag that I wanted, you know, the one that costs $10,000! And then at the end of the transaction she pulls out her EBT card.” The next time I was in the store, I noticed the same thing… I noticed it several times during my time in NYC. Sorry, it was always white females with really expensive purses with EBT cards. Here’s the thing, it’s not my business! I don’t know these women’s personal situations. I’m not going to judge them. But why do minorities always get the blames for “playing the system”? We never know anyone full situation, so people should just stop.
I’m not 100% sure about this but I believe the commentor in Kendall’s last example was trying to point out that just because someone uses an EBT card doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily using snap benefits from said card. Isn’t there a universal “government card” now? Are child support and/or disability payments accessed from the same card as that comment implied? I may be wrong but from what I’ve learned, people from all levels of society can receive child support and/or disability payments.
By the way, I’ve tried applying for all types of government assistance and I am always turned down. Peers have told me that I just have to lie because other than that you have to basically be at rock bottom to qualify. I refuse to lie. I completely agree that people should have autonomy in their buying decisions; however, someone that I personally know recently p’d me off. On top of being one of those “liars”, she bragged on Facebook how she’s not ashamed to be excited for her foodstamps to be reloaded so that she could splurge and satisfy her craving for lobster and crabs. More than anything else, that comment was like a slap in the face as someone who would appreciate the extra help but can’t because I’m playing by the rules.
I think we need to be careful with what we extrapolate from the things people say. Nothing taught me more to be careful about assuming people’s station in life than watching so many homes in an otherwise nice suburban community in middle America go up for foreclosure on the SAME BLOCK.
*Saying* that you’re lying in order to receive benefits is very different from *actually* lying. Some people might feel immense guilt about their ability to provide for their families and, to make themselves feel better, may claim that they’re lying – something I’m going to have to do some research on to validate, because in the digital era the only way I can see “lying” as plausible is if your entire paycheck is handled under the table – so that they feel less bad about their financial situation. It’s easier to tell people “Nope, I’m just bilking the system! I actually make more money! I just lie in order to be able to afford these here shrimp and lobster!” than it is to say “Yeah, I’m in a bad space right now and am struggling to make ends meet. I really needed the food stamps to make sure that my family was always fed while I figure out how to get all these bills paid.”
It also doesn’t surprise me that, in response to something intended to make her feel ashamed about her position right now, she projected and tried to turn the tables on those doing the shaming. How many people can afford lobster and crab on a regular basis? And, keeping it 100, unless she’s got multiple kids – and by multiple, I mean 4 or 5 – how much money is she really getting…. ESPECIALLY when they just cut so much money from SNAP? In other words, I’m more inclined to believe she’s lying about lying, and I’m also more inclined to believe she’s lying about purchasing luxury foods, as well, all things considered.
More importantly, because of the cuts to the farm bill, there’s an increased effort to comb through applicants and recipients – past and present – to validate claims of everything from income to child care expenses and beyond, and people are being served with bills to repay any benefits they received during any time period they can’t validate. And, because this is the government we’re talking about here, they’ll find you. You’re not just doing the honest thing, here – you’re doing the legal thing. You should be far beyond being affected by people who not only claim to lie, but try to manipulate people through shame.
All in all, I suppose I’m saying you should probably look at her with pity for responding so poorly to a situation that made her feel ashamed (as evidenced by the need to say how she’s in fact NOT ashamed) and compassion because it’s clear she’s going through it (as evidenced by the ability to qualify for SNAP in the first place.) Consider contacting your utility providers and asking them to put you on a payment plan, contact your landlord and giving them the heads up, and save money where and however you can through grocery shopping. Failing to qualify sucks, but my goodness am I thankful that you don’t. The line for poverty is so painfully low that there are few spaces and places a person could live on incomes that low and thrive, not just survive. Here’s hoping you’re okay. <3
People get so worked up about food stamps, it really defies logic. The Congressional Budget Office says that about 3/4 of SNAP recipients are children, elderly, or disabled. Have we really become such a callous society that we think it’s okay to deny food to this vulnerable population? And it *is* food, ffs, not some sort of luxury.
I thank you for snatching those wigs with facts as well. I can only imagine how tiring it must be. I was done after reading the first comment you posted because I’ve been around the immigrant Black vs American Black rodeo before and I find it especially painful.
Speechless, but thank you for explaining this.
We’ve had this conversation. At base these people resent knowing the poor exist. After all if you make the face of food stamps able bodied adults too lazy to go to work & ignore the kids, the disabled, & the elderly to make your attack valid? You don’t care about that tiny percentage of tax money, you just hate the poor & you really really want them all to go away.
At this point, I’m inclined to think these people believe that hating the poor and hating/resenting poverty – as opposed to a more compassionate response of understanding how it happens and proving people support out OF it – is a cornerstone of upward mobility and capitalism. As if, sympathizing with an impoverished populace means you are more likely to actually BE poor. It costs nothing to pay someone compassion, damn.
When people complain so much about food stamps, it makes me crazy. The biggest welfare queens in America are on Wall Street.
It pisses me off when people assume your lazy I am in my late 30’s with two children recently divorced and I have ALWAYS had a job I worked while going to high school/college up until last year I was laid off from a county job after 13 years I still didn’t apply because I know how it’s frowned upon clearly you can see the mindset of many of the people you responded to 20 plus years I paid for other peoples health insurance and food stamps I am STILL a year later looking for full time employment yes my unemployment was cut off in December and yes I will be applying for food stamps and medical assistance I will not take cash assistance because I do work per deim sometimes once or twice a week as needed I have faith that I will find FULL time employment and I am willing to relocate people before you judge please know what you are talking about I was one of 500 laid off due to downsizing I am bruised but not broken I am actively seeking employment every day
As a divorced mother of 4, who had all of her children in wedlock, and is currently using SNAP benefits….I just wanted to thank you for standing up for us, and for letting people know that people of ALL races/backgrounds/etc use SNAP benefits. I truly appreciate your time in taking up the fight.
I loved this so much. Especially how you brought up so many different angles on the whole food stamp debate. Beautiful! It’s so easy for others to confuse hatred for ignorance. Even those on food stamps or those that are “poor” are slamming others. You have no idea what someone’s financial situation or life story is. My mom was on food stamps a few times throughout my life, but that doesn’t mean she was poor, or lazy. She has a damn Master’s degree and if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be sitting here at 24 years old with my Bachelor’s degree and RN license. I worked every summer in high school and throughout college. I even had to take a year off before starting my nursing program to take care of my mom who got laid off. My Senior year of college I was working 2 jobs in addition to my full-time status as a student. Yeah I had food stamps and unemployment benefits. But I was blessed and able to get a damn good job and now I send my mom money every month just because.
My Grandfather started getting SNAP after Katrina when that storm took everything away from him. And you better believe I have friends of all ethnicity and backgrounds who have had to experience SNAP benefits at least once in their lives, but FORGET once they toss that card. Some of my friends make nasty comments about “welfare queens” and “poor” people. I would love to be quick to remind them about where they came from, but that’s their conscious and not mine. I don’t forget or regret my EBT card or my unemployment card. Not everyone is able to make it from under, but there are those that do. Keep in mind your whole comfy life can be slipped out from under you real quick. We all learned that in 2008.
I have to finish by stating, I honestly feel that it is a government’s responsibility to TAKE CARE of it’s citizens. Basic housing, food, employment, health care, should be the responsibility of the government. I’m not saying sit us up in mansions and bank roll our lives, but stimulating the economy and job growth is their job. Hello! Did we not learn anything from the Great Depression? It’s not handouts it’s creating and maintaining a better county.
I stumbled onto this post via Google, and you said everything I’ve wanted to say but didn’t know how to say. It’s the racism, the prejudice, the blatant ignorance that makes me hide the front of my ebt card when I use it.
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