Food Stamp Stereotypes – Why Do We have Them?

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What is a food stamp stereotype? Let’s take a look at the definition of stereotype:

to believe unfairly that all people or things with a particular characteristic are the same

Sound familiar? People have been stereotyped for many reasons over the years. I really do not like any of them but the ones surrounding food stamps and government assistance really get under my skin. Ok, yes, they really piss me off.

Stereotypes

Here are some common stereotypes which may give you some perspective:

  • All attorneys are scum.
  • All blond women are airheads.
  • All politicians are corrupt.
  • All cops are corrupt and racist.
  • All Christians are judgmental.
  • All Jews are tightwads.
  • All Muslims are terrorists.
  • All black men are well endowed.
  • All white men are not.
  • All black men can play basketball.
  • All single mothers are lazy sluts who don’t want to work.

I don’t know about you, but I know at least one person (personally) from each of these categories (some, more than one) who proves the statement false.

food stamp stereotypesSo why is it so easy to put such a bad stigma on anyone who receives food stamps or any other kind of assistance? Do you even know what the qualifications are to be able to receive assistance? Do you know that many people who receive food stamps work?

 

What are Food Stamp Qualifications?

To make sure I had the most up to date info for you, I visited the USDA Food and Nutrition Service site. They also have a pre-screening tool to see if you qualify.

 

Income_Guidelines

Households that have income over the amounts listed can’t get food stamps. But those are for people who are only receiving cash from assistance (SSI, Disability, etc.).

 

If you have other income, then there are more conditions you must meet.

Earned_Income_Deductions

 

Here is an example of how eligibility would be determined:

Example_of_Income_Standard_Met

 

How Much Food Stamps Would They Get?

Let’s take a look. It is broken down by family size in the image below. ‘The net monthly income of the household is multiplied by .3, and the result is subtracted from the maximum allotment for the household size to find the household’s allotment. This is because SNAP (food stamps) households are expected to spend about 30 percent of their resources on food.’

Food_Stamp_Allotment

 

A family of 3 will get $511 in food stamps if they meet all of the requirements. If their income is a little more, then they get less food stamps. So, take a single mother with two children and she is lucky enough to have a decent paying job. This mom is bringing home about $1200 a month after taxes.

Sound good does it? Ok, let’s take into consideration her rent. She doesn’t receive rental assistance because she is too proud to apply and there is a HUGE stigma on getting reduced or free rent. So she finds an apartment that is in a safe neighborhood, trying to do what is best for her children. Her rent is $600 a month.

money wingsNow she is reduced to take home pay of $600 for the month. Still sounding good? Ok, what about child care? Someone has to watch her children so she can work. She gets lucky and finds a daycare not far from her house and has late hours (because not all jobs are 9 to 5). It costs her $300 a month. Now she has $300 left for the month.

Oh but wait, she has to have a car to get back and forth to work right. Ok, now she has a car payment of $200 a month. Not easy to find and not the greatest car but it drives. Oh wait a minute, let’s not forget insurance. Most states require full coverage insurance when you have a car loan. So here is a young woman, under 25, with no incidents on her license and nothing derogatory on her credit. Car insurance is another $200 a month.

Now she is at a negative $100 a month. But wait, there are more bills. She has to have electricity in order to have hot water. There is another approximately $100 a month. She has to put gas in her car to get to work, another approximately $100 a month.

burning through moneySo now she is at a negative $300 a month but there are people who want to criticize and berate this woman because she has to apply for food stamps so her children can eat. Why would anyone have a problem with government assistance for single mothers?

 

How much do you spend on groceries each month? I bet it is more than the single mother in the scenario above. Because she makes more than the established guidelines, her monthly allotment is dropped down to about $350 a month in food stamps.

 

I am not saying there aren’t people in this world who don’t abuse the system. I know there are. But just as with all the other stereotypes, we should not lump everyone together. Most people who receive government assistance wish they did not need it.

So let’s all try and remember to think before we judge and especially before we speak. That young mother in the grocery line is already embarrassed by paying with her food stamp (EBT) card. All she wants to do is feed her family. Instead of being looked down upon, she should be praised for working so hard to care for her family.

 

Do you have a story you want to share?
Have you been judged unfairly?
I would love to hear from you in the comments below…

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