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So I’ve seen more than a few posts lately from people who are in positions where food is scarce and so is money. And I’ve been in more than a few financially insecure situations myself, so I’m going to talk to you about poverty in America & making it work when you’re broke as hell in the United States. First off, apply for food stamps. Yes, even if you don’t have any children. If anyone tells you that only people with children, only people of color, only people of whatever background that is not yours, will qualify? Don’t believe it until you look up your local laws. Protip: Race is never a factor in qualifying for food stamps. It is down to income, and far more people qualify for assistance than realize it. So, apply. The worst that can happen is that you’re turned down.
Now, the actual process of applying for food stamps can be tough if you don’t have access to all the bits of proof that they may want. The most important paperwork is proof of identity & your bank statements if you have an account. Most states have applications available online. Fill it out & if you can print it? Do so & take it into the office with you along with your proof of identity, residence, & income. If you are missing any of the above paperwork, that is okay. If you need a copy of your birth certificate or social security card & you cannot afford the fee there are usually ways around that requirement, even if you have to talk to a supervisor to get it done. Also, there are alternative methods of proving identity, income (or lack thereof), & the caseworker will discuss those with you. If you are homeless/couch surfing? Tell them that. Ask for an emergency food stamp interview. When you are being interviewed, let the caseworker lead the way. They know what they need from you & they will tell you what paperwork you need to bring in.
Go into the office early. Whatever time they open? That’s when you should be there because that increases your chances of being seen by a person in a position to help you. If you get there early enough & you have birth certificates, social security cards, leases etc. on hand? There is a good chance they will interview you that day. It can take up to 30 days for a decision to be made, but in my experience it’s usually more like a week if you have proof of identity with you. Also? You do not have to be a citizen to qualify for benefits. The rules have changed & changed again so here’s a handy guide. Minors are always eligible regardless of immigration status. If for some reason you don’t qualify for federal assistance, you should check with your county since some places have back up programs for those who do not qualify. Also, if you are eligible for food stamps you are usually eligible for other services like a free cellphone with 200 free minutes a month, & assistance with utilities. Local offices can also point you to resources that will assist you with finding housing or rent assistance programs. The safety nets are imperfect, but they are there & don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for using them.