One of my husband’s coworkers made a comment the other day that absolutely enraged me. Apparently she got all upset about Papa Murphy’s (that take-and-bake pizza place) now accepting EBT (food stamps). Because, according to her philosophy, people using EBT have no business using that money for take-and-bake pizza.
Really? Why? Why is it okay for the ‘well-to-do’ to have a flop night with pizza, but families using EBT aren’t allowed? Just because they’re using government funds to do it? Because those funds came from your tax dollars, so therefore you think you have a right to say “I can have pizza and you can’t because you don’t make enough money”? Ah yes. My mistake. I’ll get my ass back in the kitchen and continue cooking absolutely everything from scratch while you lounge on your sofa with your well-earned pizza. Silly me. I forgot my place in this classist society.
Let me make something clear. People on EBT can’t use it to buy alcohol, cigarettes, or pet food. They can’t use it to buy fast food (Burger King, McDonald’s, etc.). They can’t use it to buy certain already-prepared food (cooked pizza from the supermarket deli; coffee drinks). It can’t be used to buy household items or hygiene products. There are limitations.
How do I know? We use EBT. My husband is an apprenticed funeral director. He has a degree. He has a respectable job. I stay home to take care of our three kids, he works. But he doesn’t make a boatload of money, and we need to supplement with EBT. This is not an unusual situation, just one that requires a little help from the government, and hopefully only temporary. No doubt some are thinking “Stop having kids if you can’t afford them”. No. Having children should not be a class privilege. Plain and simple. Others are thinking “Go back to work to supplement the income, you cow”. Right. But then the kids would have to be put in daycare, which would suck away the majority of that supplemental income, and the remainder would not make up our grocery bill. So what’s the benefit to that plan? None. So home it is for me while my husband goes off to take care of the dead, a job not many are cut out for, and contrary to popular belief, does not rake in piles of cash.
So why did this comment enrage me so much? There seems to be a general impression that families using government aid are spending all this money on superfluous things, junk. And this is where the ridiculous prejudice slips in. If you haven’t been in the situation to need government aid, you have no idea what it’s like, and therefore have no room to pass judgment. Low-income families do everything in their power to make sure *needs* are met first. Food, shelter, clothing. Superfluous things are few and far between, treats. You get a Starbucks coffee every day because it’s your routine, something you’ve gotten used to, and part of your everyday life. To me that’s a treat. You get take-out once/twice/three times a week. That happens maybe once a month for us, and again, it’s a treat. And no, EBT doesn’t get used for those things, so never fear, your hard-earned money isn’t being recklessly spent by us lazy ne’er-do-wells who sponge off society because we don’t want to work…
I bust my ass every day to take care of my family. I do a lot of these hippy things, not just because it’s healthier or a better choice, but because it’s cheap. Cooking from scratch. Making my own cleaners. Sewing. Crochet and knit. Using cloth diapers. Breastfeeding. Hell, even homebirthing. There’s so much more I could be doing, too, but I’m human and have a breaking point. I don’t have time for some things. But I do what I can to help my family and stretch a dollar. Using government money is not a source of pride for me, it’s just the situation we find ourselves in at the moment through no fault of our own. We are not lazy. We are not sponging off society. We work. Hard. And for that, we damn well deserve a pizza flop night once in a while. So fuck you and your government aid prejudice. Fuck you and your judgment of people who work hard yet still need a little help. Walk a day in my shoes, step inside my life, before you decide what my family deserves.