Food for Thought… Food Stamps?

The Iowa EBT Food Stamp Card
This is a topic that other authors have lightly touched on but I have not seen it discussed very much.  Realizing that it is a sensitive topic, I don’t wish to debate the morals of using food assistance – there are pros and cons to everything.  Nonetheless, Food Stamps offer a benefit to van dwellers and those living other non-traditional lifestyles.
How did I suddenly become interested in food stamps?  Answer – It was an accident!
Having been underemployed for a few years, I’ve been involved in a fledgling program called Iowa Care.  It is a limited healthcare coverage plan with little or no premium due per month depending on income.  As a result of moving from one city to another, I needed to update my address,  This was accomplished at the DHS office.While there, a worker offered to let me apply for food stamps.  Apparently the guidelines were relaxed in recent days – I was approved for maximum benefits.  Within several days, the card was received, almost fully charged.
Instantly, relief was experienced.  Sure, a person feels a little sheepish, but I don’t feel guilty about using food assistance because there are many things wrong with me – enough to get disability.  For now, I am content to work a little less, get some help from Uncle Sam, and eat healthier.  It also fits in with the more simple lifestyle.  I wanted to share some of those thoughts with the readers.  Please forgive me if you are offended in any way.
1)  It’s free money.  Granted, someone is paying for it, but it is free to the recipient.
2)  Much of the stigma about receiving assistance is no longer there.  Shop later at night or shroud the card so people don’t see you swipe it.  Nobody needs to know. 

3)  A person can still work to some degree.  With maximum food stamp benefits, it is roughly equivalent to one day of free living per week for a single person.  A 4 day work week!  Working a little less is helpful with my medical conditions, too.

4)  I can “splurge” on healthier foods that might be out of comfortable reach.
5)  There are many missions, pantries, and church meals where a person can socialize and meet fun and colorful  people.  Free dinners extend the life of the food stamps. 
6)  If a person can work closer to 32 hours per week, he or she can stilll save money as long as you stay under the threshold of gross income ($1174 in Iowa) so as not to lose the card benefits.
7)  If you do work 4 days a week, there are tax benefits to having a lower income.   There are also many other benefits to having a low income, too.  I.E. lower cost memberships at the YMCA, etc.
Again, I am not telling everyone to quit his or her job and live off the government and other free programs.  But if you are like me and have serious health and mental issues, don’t be embarrassed to accept assistance.  That is what it is there for.  Hold your head up high knowing that you are still able to care for yourself and enjoy life.  Don’t let others judge you.  There are millionaires who would probably love to only work 4 days a week for a time and spend hours reading, camping, or chilling at a gym. 

About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"
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