First off, simply I do not have the greatest food security. With little
income, I supplement me and special someone's diet with food stamps and
the local food pantry. The end of the month can be a little rough, but
overall with assistance the two of us do alright.
But, foodstamps have their problems. As a student, with an internship I
am required to work 20 hours over the 18 at the internship and 12
credit hours not including homework and general school stuff.
Special Someone,'s income has not changed in the last year but do to
many errors the foodstamp amount recievede changed 8 times... no
exaggeration. There have been countless hous, appeals, and visits to
fix the problems. And dating a social worker helps dramatically.
In addition, DHS (thats where you get foodstamps) is open from 8-5 only
and requires atleast four hours of time per visit. It takes more than
one visit to get foodstamps normally (due to paperwork, doc**entation,
and other things that may be missing) . So someone who works, but
income is very low will not be able to go. And, then the buildings are
generally very uncomfortable with strict rules (no cellphones, no
standing, no talking loud, seats close together). And, for families,
who can affoard to pay for child care when they can't afford food. So
add cranky babies into the mix with little way to entertain, comfort
and be with them. So, there is alot of screaming children noise,
secrurity gaurds watching out for infractions (leaning against the wall
for example), and then yelling to get people's names. Not quite
On top of that, if you are lucky to get foodstamps being homeless (it
is more complicated than you think) you cannot buy hot or prepared or
microwave-in-store foods. Yes, the policy is to curb costs by prohibiting buying more expensive
foods. But a person with no kitchen, no storage, and no prep space- cannot buy foods
immedately available to eat, unless they are processed enough to be packaged ready.
Beef jerky is an example of that.
So, homeless tend to be overweight as they cannot buy meat, vegitbles (unless they eat them immedately)
and fruit. They cannot prepare rice and beans, unless they are from a
can. Sweets look alot more appitizing and generally appealing. Some
soups are okay, but unless they are creating fires (which is prohibited
in city limits in most states) there isn't a way to warm it up.
Thats why soup kitchens are so important.
BUT- what happens if you have a health problem that requires a special diet? You are simply out of luck.
Where I work- there is prepared food for every meal, and a communal
kitchen and storage space for food. However- we get MOST of our food
from the Greater-Chicago-Area Food Depository, which relies on
coporation and private food donations. Health factors are not taken
into concideration, and adaquate nutrition isn't exactly allways
possible. The meat that is mostly delivered is high-fat sauage that is
made of who-knows-what. So, our food, which is relied on from their
food donations ends up being generally high-fat, high carb. It takes
alot of working and prep to make lower-carb alternatives for those with
Diabities (and we have a few). Add in obesity, hypertension, religious
food preferences, and just actual food preferences.... food security
isn't all that great... the reality is, for these women to be on the
diet they need- would cost much more than my agency can afford.