Ballin' on a Budget

It burns me up.  Hurts my feelings just a little bit.

A couple of weeks ago, I swallowed my pride and made an appointment to visit the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.  With the kids being out of school, my mom staying with us, and my dad still getting his trailer (he named it Rancho Bizzaro) ready, our food situation is spotty at best.

On a normal basis, we are a family of five getting by on only my husband's salary.  I'd be lying if I said we were doing OK.  I had intended on going back to work when my kids had finished elementary school.  SURPRISE!  I had a baby.  Normally I think I do pretty good at the grocery store every week, keeping it to an average of $125 a week.  This is only the essentials though and any time I need something not on the list, I cringe at what bill I might have to let go until next week.

My husband has a good job.  We have good insurance.  We don't eat out often.  We rarely go anywhere unless we have free/discounted tickets.  On occasions when he works some overtime, we might eat out or do something as a family.  He works too much overtime.  And don't even get me started on vacations....  I long for sand in my toes and a drink with a little umbrella in it.

So anyway... I swallowed my pride and went for food assistance.  It's hard to ask for help as an adult, but sometimes we all need a little helping hand.  The worker was pleasant and didn't make me feel like I was sub-human for being there.  She took my information (pay stubs, utility bills, house payment, etc.).  Clickity, clackity... she typed it all in that little computer.

I knew before she even showed me the paperwork.  The look on her face told me.

"I'm sorry," she said.  "You don't qualify for assistance."


Seriously?  Five people. One income.  We go over the stated limit by $100. A hundred stinkin' dollars.  The gross income limit (because they don't base their decision on what is actually coming to you) is $2,836 a month for a family of five.  I'm not exactly sure when the last time they reviewed these "limits" was, but I seriously think they need to revisit it.

I left the office at the bottom of my emotional rope.  On one hand I was completely devastated that we were disqualified, but on the other I kept (and still do) telling myself that it was actually a good thing.  We are supposedly making enough money to sustain our home.

Then I go to the grocery and there are two men of foreign decent, not speaking a word of English, in line at the check out in front of me.  Grocery carts nearly overflowing with food.  Their total is in the multiple hundreds of dollars.  Each.  How did they pay for their groceries?  Why, with their handy dandy food assistance card, of course.


I check out my half full cart of groceries, totaling less than $100.  Sweat beads popping out on my head because I wonder how I'm going to manage to feed everyone and pay the weekly bills.


It burns me up.  Hurts my feelings just a little bit.  

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