Most people will never need to consider accepting cash or food assistance from the government. However, millions of Americans rely on these programs for their survival, and some are too embarrassed to apply. Still, struggling parents who aren’t afraid to accept help are often denied that help.
There’s so much perceived shame around accepting food stamps that many who could use a little extra support choose not to accept it. They’d rather make sacrifices than admit they need help – even if that help would keep their head above water.
The media portrays food stamp recipients in a negative light, and it’s not usually true. The media continually runs fictional stories that make recipients look greedy and lazy. This stigma is part of the reason people are hesitant to apply for assistance, even when they need it.
This mother cried the first time she used her EBT card at the grocery store because she thought everyone was judging her. She automatically felt guilty for loading her cart with items she didn’t think a person on food stamps should buy, like fresh pineapple chunks. Yet, over time, she learned to accept the help she needed without being ashamed.
If you need some extra help with your groceries but don’t want to accept help from the government, here’s why you should reconsider:
It’s easy to apply
Applying for food stamps is easy, and in many states you don’t need to meet anyone in person until you’re up for renewal. As Foodstamps.org notes, you’ll be required to report your income, monthly expenses, and household resources when you apply. Having a job or income doesn’t automatically disqualify you from the program. Each state has different income limits, and sometimes those limits are higher than you think.
$20 can upgrade your lunches
When you need to make sandwiches and all you can afford is cheap white bread, you’re not going to enjoy your lunch (unless you really like the taste of white bread). You also won’t get any nutrition.
With a $20 monthly stipend, you can upgrade your sandwich bread to something more nutritious with nuts, seeds, and whole grains. You’ll also have money left over to upgrade your condiments. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re short on cash, it’s huge.
You can save up your monthly allotment
If all you qualify for is twenty bucks, don’t pass it off as insignificant. Depending on your state’s program, you could save a few months’ worth of payments and cover a large chunk of your next grocery bill.
If you have kids, you can treat them
If you’ve got kids, that $20 can go a long way to make their day. Although you can only buy food with food stamps, having an extra $20 to spend on groceries means you’ll have an extra $20 from your paycheck to take your kids to a movie or bring fun snacks to a free concert in the park.
You won’t be taking advantage of taxpayers
If you’re hesitating to receive assistance, you’re probably not going to be taking advantage of taxpayers. You’ve already paid for plenty of other people’s groceries and there’s nothing wrong with taking your turn when you really need it.
Everybody needs help periodically, and the fact that you’re hesitant means you probably won’t accept help for longer than you really need. Don’t let the reputations of others who abuse the system keep you from accepting help you legitimately need.
Pride is an illusion
If accepting the money for your kids isn’t a good enough reason, the next best reason to apply for food stamps is that pride is an illusion.
Many people have difficulty accepting help from others because they want to maintain the idea of being completely independent. They don’t want to accept what they see as a “handout” they didn’t earn.
Maintaining an identity of independence is understandable. However, asserting this level of independence simultaneously asserts separation from the rest of the world. Assistance can only be perceived as a “handout” when you feel separate from everybody else. When you view other people as part of your life, life becomes a dance and giving and receiving is the norm.
Help doesn’t need to be earned in the way you think
Many people grow up being told never to accept something they didn’t earn. This is an important lesson for kids to learn in one respect, but it doesn’t apply across the board. If taken too literally, this concept can make people hesitate to buy lunch for someone who’s hungry because they didn’t earn it.
The idea of having to earn help in order to deserve help undermines the unconditional aspect of compassion.
Although we move and live as separate beings, we
aren’t as separate from each other as it seems. Our entire lives are built
around interacting with others – friends, family, co-workers, etc. There isn’t
anything we do in this life that doesn’t involve others. We’re all in this
together, and when you truly need help, there’s no reason to turn it down.