Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Humility and Government Cheese

On Monday I went to the local health department in order to sign up for WIC. I've never been a super proud person but I found myself feeling a bit ashamed while waiting for my enrollment and then even more ashamed while receiving my vouchers. Maybe it is because I was raised in a one income household by two people who never attended college and yet there was always plenty of food on the table and never any government assistance (or debt for that matter). Of course, we lived in a small house and we shopped at yard sales and thrift stores but we had plenty and then some. Now I'm married to a man who attended graduate school, I graduated from college and we were both raised with all of our needs always being met... and yet we can't seem to make it on our own. They say that wealth skips a generation... hope this isn't true in our case. For years now I've been assured that in "just a few months" everything would be okay. And yet next week we have an appointment with a case worker for food stamps.

The process of applying for WIC was eye opening and even disturbing. Donut was exposed to totally inappropriate behavior. Sadly, we cannot always protect our kids. The waiting went on for an eternity but, unlike some of the clients sitting near us, I did not curse the employees about my wait. Hey, I was there to ask for a hand out from the government. The least I can do is be patient and deal with the inconvenience of having to wait. I had no idea that we would have to be weighed, measured, and have our fingers pricked. Donut was so brave... she just stuck her finger out and let the lady take her blood like it was no big deal. She truly amazes me at times. I think she was already in shock from having to watch a couple of kids repeatedly being hit by their parents for, essentially, being children. They were also called names like "Brat". As soon as they left the room, I addressed their behavior and talked to my daughter about how those parents were making poor choices. She just sat in wide-eyed amazement.

A lot of the items that are allowed through WIC are things that we don't eat. Our game plan is, for the time being, to let Daddy eat some of those things (like the eggs and tuna) so that we can afford the good stuff for me and the kids. I know this isn't exactly the purpose of the program but it works. Last night we went to Walmart (ick) in order to use our first WIC voucher. This was a horryifying experience. I was rather appalled by some of the products that are being given to the people in our country in order to provide them with appropriate nutrition. A large number of the cereals allowed through the program have dyes in them! All of the approved peanut butter was made with hydrogenated oils. I did get a bag of carrots and some dried beans. This will make a nice, hearty stew with which I can feed the family for several days. The approved juices weren't so bad and He-Man was thrilled to get some grape juice. I love grape juice too. While they aren't farm fresh, I'm thankful for eggs. We also got some tuna and cheese. We skipped the milk. I am especially thankful for the farmer's market vouchers. In July and August, we will be able to go to the Murfreesboro faremer's market for fresh, locally grown produce!

I pray that this is a very temporary solution to a temporary problem. I also pray that God will use this experience in order to glorify him somehow. In addition, I pray that I am able to somehow bless people that I encounter as a result of being on this program... people who I might never encounter otherwise.

4 comments:

  1. I hate that you had to go through all of that. It's nice to have so many yummy groceries now though!

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  2. I didn't know that farmer's market vouchers were an option. That's great!

    God will definitely use your experience. So many people are so prideful that it's hard to ask for help--even when their children need it. I have a friend that didn't even want to sign up for unemployment when she lost her job! (ridiculous!) Just by making this post you may have encouraged someone who needs this help to go ask for it. You're one cool chick. :)

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  3. You are NOT the one who needs to be ashamed. It's our country that should be.

    We do not treat our mothers and children well.

    It's sad that they provide this type of food for people.

    I'm sorry you saw awful things...parents hitting their children.

    Maybe if there was better support for parents, there'd be less behavior like that.

    I don't know.

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  4. It is great that you shared this. It is a great program that really does help, those little expenses do add up. It may not be the best food but it is food none the less. We too would love to continue shopping at TJ's, Whole Foods, and markets--but the reality is this: we cannot afford it right now. And that is okay, one day we will be able to again. We just have to do the best for our family and that is exactly what you are doing. Great work!

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