I grew up poor. My parents had me when they were very young. Mom was 16 when she got pregnant with me, Daddy was 20. She got pregnant on purpose so that my grandparents would sign for her to get married. They were married October 26th 1974, Mom turned 17 on November 15th, Daddy turned 21 on December 3rd, I was born the following April.
Mom had no diploma, Daddy had only a high school diploma, and a job. They were young, living back in his hometown of Niagara Falls, which was 500 miles from my Mom’s parents.
They worked hard. Daddy was a welder and worked his ass off, he had several injuries that put him out of work, including one that burned his legs severely and left him with permanent scars all over his lower legs. Mom stayed home with us kids, all four of us, and worked evenings while Daddy was home.
Us kids came into their lives quickly. Me, two years later, Mary, not even two years after that, Katie, then four years later, my little brother, Richie. I was planned, my siblings were not. In fact, Katie is an IUD baby. She was also using birth control for the other two, so obviously the universe wanted my siblings here.
I remember being a kid and my parents using food stamps to feed us. The colored paper in the little booklets that made other people give you dirty looks in the grocery store. If you grew up poor, you know the looks. The one where they sneer down their noses, looking at every item on the belt, judging whether or not they should be there.
The angry look when they see an item they don’t think should be there. Yes, Mom bought us a bottle of pop as a treat, how awful, they shouldn’t be allowed to have food stamps. You still hear it, on certain “news” stations and on blogs, how “welfare queens” are driving expensive cars (ha ha, if you grew up poor, you’re laughing too) and eating steak on food stamp dollars.
For crying out loud, we didn’t eat steak. We ate hot dogs, ground beef, lots of carbs (carbs are cheap and filling.) When my parents were finally doing a little better and we did eat steak once in a blue moon, it was the absolutely cheapest cuts.
I have heard people bitch, “That woman bought a birthday cake with food stamps.” Ok, it is cheaper to bake a cake, but, you know what? I’d rather my tax dollars go to pay for some little girls birthday cake, than another damn bomb to kill brown people over in the middle east. How do people know that the Mom has a working oven or that she has the time between jobs to bake a cake.
Congress is working on a new farm bill. This bill also covers the SNAP (what food stamps is now called) program and they are trying to cut funding. When our economy is still not doing well, Congress wants to literally take the food out of children’s mouths.
Share our Strength has a place where you can contact members of Congress and ask them to not cut funding for SNAP or other nutrition programs in the United States. Please, if you are in the US take the two minutes to do so.