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Jul 9, 2014 11:03 AM

Wash post: picking up food stamps in a Mercedes

This has come up in almost every SNAP discussion, thought I'd share it:

"In just two months, we’d gone from making a combined $120,000 a year to making just $25,000 and leeching out funds to a mortgage we couldn’t afford. Our savings dwindled, then disappeared.

So I did what I had to do. I signed up for Medicaid and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children."

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  1. An excellent read, well worth sharing. Thank you. From the article: "That’s the funny thing about being poor. Everyone has an opinion on it, and everyone feels entitled to share."

    All of us, especially anyone relying on wage income, are just a few bad life breaks from bring the one who gets judged by strangers. This story had a happy ending...a lot don't.

    "The poor are there just to scare the shit out of the middle class. Keep 'em showing up at those jobs." - George Carlin

    1. While I liked the article, the WP title is a little misleading. WIC is a separate program from food stamps. She drove to the WIC office in the Mercedes.

      In college, I worked at a WIC office and at that time, it was actually pretty easy to qualify for WIC.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cleobeach

        Huge huge huge difference between WIC and food stamps.

      2. I'm going to say this, then see if I can prevent myself from following the discussion on CH!

        The author:
        Is still a white woman with a college education and college educated husband, and they are again financially stable.
        Based upon the article, they were not on Food Stamps/ SNAP.

        The twins, in only a few years, will abhor their mother's smug family bootstrap stories about "we were there once" when they encounter the perpetually poor.

        And, actually, I'm not 100% sure that I agree with her assertion that "no one DESERVES to be poor/ wealthy."

        Finally, there are physical conditions (low blood iron being one) that automatically qualify an infant and family for WIC, completely without the evaluation of the economic conditions of the family.

        1. Been there. Done that.

          I like to think the experience did not make me nor my daughter smug, but rather more compassionate.

          1. Ever hear of putting money aside for a rainy day?

            9 Replies
              1. re: divadmas

                I didn't see where the Mercedes owner had medical bills. Did you?

                1. re: beevod

                  Yes, it's in the article, about nutrition issues with preemies: " Then my kids were born, six weeks early. They were just three pounds each at birth, barely the length of my shoe. We fed them through a little tube we attached to our pinky fingers because their mouths weren’t strong enough to suckle. We spent 10 days in the hospital waiting for them to increase in size. They never did. Try as I might, I couldn’t get my babies to put on weight. With their lives at risk, I switched from breast milk to formula, at about $15 a can. We went through dozens a week."

                  That's a medical expense, not a lifestyle choice.

                  1. re: beevod

                    the medical expense of having preemie twins with no income and no mention of adequate insurance??

                    Even if there was good insurance, the out-of-pocket could have been more than enough to knock them off the edge....

                2. re: beevod

                  One never knows what's going on with anyone else's life, so I think it's best to not assume the worst.

                  1. re: beevod

                    It sounds like they had put money aside, but if your "rainy days" go on long enough then you're left with little choice.

                    These are decidedly different times. It used to be that a 3-6 month cushion was sufficient to take care of bills and living costs while you found a new job, the economic collapse in 2008 was far more devastating. And with half of working Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck, finding money for rainy days is not an easy task.

                    1. re: beevod

                      Hmm, I know when I went from making six figures to 30k in the span of a year (Thanks real estate bubble!) my "rainy day" money went away pretty quick due to my high rent and car payment. They were easily affordable when I had the higher income but on 30k, not so much. I moved to a much cheaper apartment as soon as my lease was up, and traded in the Infiniti for a Ford as soon as I realized it wasn't going to get better, but the damage was already done. Savings dwindled, debt skyrocketed.

                      Or, you get people like my SO who have a non-curable disease that requires very expensive treatment (8k a pop, every 8 weeks). Thankfully, he has insurance and works in an industry where he will probably always have a decent paying job, but many people are not that lucky. ...lose their job and insurance, and the costs add up real quick.

                      1. re: juliejulez

                        Also I don't know about all states, but in Missouri you only have a certain window, like six months, between losing your job and applying for unemployment. After that window you don't qualify--so if you find yourself without work and nobly try to live off your "rainy day" money before filing (and unemployment insurance itself is money you've put away in case you lose your job--if there is a definition of rainy day money, unemployment insurance is it) you could be without both in six months.

                        1. re: ennuisans

                          Yeah here in CO it's a year to apply. I actually was laid off last summer, and because my employer gave me two weeks' pay as a small severance, I wasn't eligible to receive any benefits for the first month. Thankfully, I found a new job very quickly so I only had to go 2 weeks with no income, but if I hadn't, things would have gotten very tight very fast.

                          In my situation a few years back, I was a 1099 contractor, so no unemployment was available. Still got to pay my taxes out of pocket though!