Katy over at the Non Consumer Advocate is running a Food Stamp/SNAP Challenge to help bring awareness to growing hunger issues. This challenge really got me thinking as she made the statement that “we do not have the right to judge other’s food choices as we do not know their story” as a few started talking about the junk food they see people buying while talking on their cell phones while on food stamps.
I have also found myself making rash judgments about the overflowing carts at the most expensive store in town, with nothing but junk food in the cart as they are swiping their food stamp cards. Yet Katy is right, we do not have the right to judge other’s choices simply because they are not the choices we would make. We do not know that person’s story nor what motivates them to spend the way they do. We hardly would even glance at someone’s cart filled with the same items, knowing they seem to have the money to spend that way.
Food Stamps And My Youth
Funny, looking back to childhood, people glared at us as my mother had her overflowing cart and paid for it with food stamps. I use to think it was simply because we were poor, but looking back, I now see it had to do with what she had in the cart. We had no car so only got a ride to town 13 miles away once a month, so of course the cart was filled to the brim! While she had healthy things in the cart, it was also filled with convenience foods such as TV dinners, mac and cheese boxes and cans of pre-made stews. That was followed by junk foods such as ice creams, potato chips, chocolate covered cherries and soda pop. The highly judgmental on looking citizens had no clue to the dark disturbing story behind the food purchasing choices of a woman I always considered highly frugal.
You see, she was starving to death, literally…battling Crohn’s Disease, diagnosed in 1969, a time nothing was known about this disease. She needed convenience foods that us kids could heat up without yet having cooking skills for the days she hid in her bedroom trying to hide her agonizing pain from us. The junk foods were all for her, as her doctors desperately tried to keep her over 60 pounds! Nobody judging her food choices could have ever known this, as they went home, we were the ones living this nightmare as she fought for her life.
I heard on the news the other day that Food Stamp recipients have hit record highs with 46 million Americans now on them, a number that seems to be growing every day. Many families facing these real hunger issues and low income living now are being thrown into a life they never faced before and therefore never had the skills to start with prior to disaster striking. Minimum wage is becoming more and more common to have to raise a family on, no longer for the young just starting out in the workforce. Many of these families already had their big screen televisions or cell phone contracts before the need to apply for food stamps. Some have them because it is either required for their job, or their job pays for them to have them. Some have no cooking skills or much knowledge on proper nutrition. Some are just starting their journey on food stamp living. Some have major health issues or a family with multiple food restrictions.
While some things can be learned and there is a need for educating on how to stretch food stamps, the point is, we do not have the right to judge, as we truly do not know the story behind their decisions. The one thing we do know is that it is a rapidly growing problem Americans are facing. Hunger is a serious issue that really should be addressed and given attention to.
By the way, while I do not receive food stamps/SNAP, I am joining the challenge and you can follow on my Poor to Rich a Day at a Time blog! Being low income and spending very little in a month for food, I thought it would be fun to join in the challenge hoping it may be somewhat helpful to others who struggle everyday with food on the table. Just remember the next time you’re in a store and spot a person’s cart, paying for it with their food stamp card, we do not know their story and never have the right to judge another’s choices.
Carrie Hetu is not a financial expert, but has been passionate about finances since the age of 19 years old when a neighbor introduced her to taxes. From that time, she has made a point to increase her financial literacy into areas of frugal living, investing, real estate, budgeting and passive income. She currently blogs at Poor to Rich a Day at a Time and Simply Homeschooled.