Hannah from New York, NY

Faces of the Federal Budget

I applied [for food stamps] last summer because [otherwise] I don’t know where the money would have come out of my budget to feed myself; all my money goes to tuition.

Although, I still run out, [food stamps] cover the vast majority of the food that I need to buy, so I’m happy about that. And I’m grateful. Honestly, it makes a huge difference.

I’m a crazy saver. I’ve been saving every dime I had since I was 12. Because I knew, I knew no one was going to pay for [college] for me. I don’t spend anything without needing to spend it. I’ve just worked the whole time. I’ve had a job since I was 14. So, I saved it all, and I had enough [to pay] for one semester entirely by myself. I really didn’t think that I would be able to go back [to school] after that first year. I didn’t know where the money was going to come from, to be honest. I really didn’t know. [Getting aid] allowed me to stop freaking out about [how to pay for school] and start paying attention to going to college.

I accidentally got into a conversation [about food stamps] with someone on the bus. … I don’t know how we suddenly started talking about food stamps and then suddenly he says, “only fat people are on food stamps – they’re spending all the government’s money”. And I looked at him and I’m like, “I’m on food stamps. I’m just trying to eat.” And he’s like, “well you’re the minority in that situation.” And I didn’t want to continue, I didn’t want to get into it, but people just – they don’t get it. And they don’t want to get it. That’s what I think. There’s no way that you can be that naïve to what’s going on unless you’re choosing to not get it. Families are in need. What do you see as their alternative? “Oh get a job”. That’s what everybody says “get a job.” Well, I’m sure they’d like to get a job. People that have disabilities can’t just get up and get a job.

I try to buy the cheaper things. But now that I have a set amount of money, I do try to budget for healthier food, because I know that’s what I should be eating. So, I try to do that for myself, but honestly, if I was feeding kids, I don’t see how I would be able to do that. I would try, but you buy fresh produce and it goes bad a lot quicker than when you buy frozen produce. And when you have to feed your kids, it’s difficult; it’s a lot more difficult.

Think about, you know, what are the cheapest things to buy? Snacks and soda and stuff that sucks. You’re not going to spend the little food stamp money that you have on organic chicken. It’s just not in the budget, so what do you want them to do? I get so frustrated. I just don’t think it’s fair [to criticize people on food stamps], because you don’t know why they are buying what they are buying. And you don’t know who they’re feeding.

Hannah from New York, NY | Map

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