I am not a food stamp abuser. I am also not technically a food stamp user, but there was a time last year when I was desperate for full-time employment, when I was working four part-time jobs to try to pay my bills (and doing additional freelance work), when — had I not been living at home with my parents — I would have qualified for and accepted food stamps. I did not apply for the SNAP program (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) because, again, I was living with my parents, and they were and are extraordinarily generous to let their 25 year-old graduate-school-educated-now-secretary daughter live with them for free.
Some others are not as lucky. Some others (and again, I know because I was one of them) have filled out hundreds of job applications for postings suited to their skill level, have filled out hundreds more applications for postings below their skill level, and have still found nothing. These people have found no options for employment. Some others have woken up, many nights, panicked in bed not because they cannot feed themselves, but because they cannot feed their children. But it’s not for lack of trying. Some have tried everything. Some will be driven to find forms of illegal employment just to survive.
I don’t know much about food stamps, and I don’t know much about the recent House of Representatives bill aiming to cut billions of dollars annually in food stamps programs. But I do know that those who assume that all able-bodied, unemployed food stamps recipients are just lazy abusers of the system are flat wrong. Some able-bodied unemployed are, no doubt. But many are not, and it’s insulting to those who have experienced the terror of unemployment in an economic climate like this one to insinuate that all are.
Maybe we do need to cut funds from food stamps programs; I’m not an economist. The rhetoric surrounding this debate, though, seems to be focused on all the able-bodied and employable unemployed who are “abusing the system.” To those standing on the other side of the desk, those who have never experienced what it is like to despair for a job and still not get one and what it is like to depend on assistance from the government for food: I would ask you to consider the other perspective for just a moment. The issue might not be as clear cut as it is so often portrayed.
Laura Creel (@Little_Utopia) is the managing editor of Little Utopia.
Previously from Laura Creel:
♦ It’s a Feel Good Friday, and We are Celebrating the Greenville House of Pizza
♦ Technology Finds Another Way to Creep Us Out
♦ Viral Video of the Week: Do the Mashed Potato
♦ What Jimmie Sue and Larry Swilling Taught Us About Marriage
♦ Thoughts on Ariel Castro’s Death