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Food Stamp Recipient Gets Look of Contempt From Customer, Writes This Message In Response

Food Stamp Recipient Gets Look of Contempt From Customer, Writes This Message In Response

A member of Democratic Underground posted the below message in response to a customer in line behind him at the grocery store as he purchased his food with his SNAP card along with some coupons.

The customer glared in disgust and had “daggers shooting from his eyes” as the SNAP recipient walked away with his groceries. The message writer gets a mere $200 a month in SNAP for his grocery purchases and it was his once-a-month trip to the local Sav-A-Lot.

The glares he received are just part of the mentality of many Americans who believe that being poor enough to receive government benefits of some kind is because of a moral and/or personal shortcoming. The notion that if only the welfare recipient would just get off their lazy arse and get a job, go to college, start a business, etc then they would not need those benefits.

If only life were so simple.

Read this man’s message below and share, because this is the story of the average person who receives welfare benefits, despite the stereotypes that many Conservatives have of them – that most welfare recipients are just lazy people who don’t want to work.

As I enter my 15th month of unemployment, my savings are gone, my 401(k) (or what remained of it, after Wall Street crashed in 2008-2009) is gone and every luxury item I once owned, except for my 3 year-old computer and 7 year-old television have been sold. The only real estate I still own is a single burial plot, deeded to me by my mother shortly before her death from cancer. I haven’t owned a car in years, and couldn’t pay insurance on it or put gas in it if I did. I don’t list these details of my life to elicit sympathy, but simply state them as the economic facts of my life, at present.

Today is the 8th day of the month or, as I call it, ‘Mini Christmas’. It is the day that the State of Illinois places $200 in SNAP benefits on the debit card given to me for the purchase of food. It is the one day every month that I know something good, economically speaking, will happen, and it makes me happy. Thanks to 2 immigrant grandmothers, two well-educated parents and my own knowledge of nutrition and arithmetic, I know that this month I will not go hungry. I can forgo a trip to the Ministerial Alliance’s food bank, even though I am ‘entitled’ to do so, leaving what I could claim as ‘my share’ for someone else who cannot meet their family’s nutritional needs. That makes me happy, too.

You were behind me in line at Sav-a-Lot today, and my cart was loaded to the brim. There were ‘family-sized’ packages of ground beef and pork sausage, marked-down ‘manager’s special’ packages of arm roast, ham chunks and round steak and a ten-pound bag of chicken leg quarters. I also had a 25-pound bag of potatoes, two 2-pound packages of beans, one white Navy and one pinto. I had a 10-pound bag of store-brand flour, a 5-pound bag of corn meal, a box of salt, a box of baking soda and four packages of yeast. Rounding that out, I had several store-brand bags of frozen vegetables (peas, corn, broccoli and Brussel sprouts) and ten large cans of store-brand fruit (packed in juice, not syrup) and three gallons of milk with the latest expiration dates I could find.

The cashier rang up my purchase, took my numerous coupons, and I swiped my SNAP card and entered my pin number on he keypad. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the look of utter contempt on your face, and the daggers shooting from your eyes as you struggled not to say something snarky to either me or the cashier.

I don’t hate you. I’m not even angry with you. I know that you simply don’t understand, very likely because you’ve never been in my situation. Not only do I forgive you, but I thanked God that you’ve never been standing in my shoes.

Would that surprise you, if you knew?


About Progressive Populist

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I'm the founder of Progressive Populist and a passionate Liberal-Progressive who despises the Tea Party


  1. Author Image

    Bless you..Not so long ago after 38 months of unemployment, I was in the same situation. Although I did not have a sneering customer behind me, I did face a couple of snarky cashiers who found it necessary to either call out loudly or announce it over the microphone that I had an EBT card. I have since gotten back to work and am being restored by God. My faith in God kept me from giving up and I learned more about love, faith, compassion, friendship, holding on and letting go in that period of time than I could have probably learned in a lifetime. I have no more advice than this: Continue to pray, and thank God what you have and do the right thing for yourself, Pray for those who were behind you in the store , that they find a better understanding and compassion for their fellow man and never find themselves in the same situation. And I will pray for you.
    Peace in your heart, mind and soul and blessings for you always

  2. Author Image

    I first saw a food stamp card at an ethnic grocery I frequented. Eventually I came to ask a friendly cashier at a local grocery chain store. Within a month or so I applied for food stamps, after having exhausted my unemployment benefits for months.
    Now I find that cashiers don’t give me a second look when I say “it’s an EBT card”. Maybe other customers don’t know what EBT means.
    My family and some friends know I’m on food stamps. They know that this will change, and I’ll happily rejoin the working and taxed group of citizens.
    I think times are changing and many have been touched by hard times, especially those of us who are older and fall in the growing “older and unemployed” category.

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    Maybe he was late for work and you had a ton of stuff?

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      They have Express Lanes in most grocery stores. Even Save-A-Lots have two or more lanes. If yours was a sarcastic remark then I apologize for my comment, however if it wasn’t then shame on the fool for not recognizing a full cart when he sees one and changing lanes.

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        For your information Save-a-Lot’s don’t have express lanes. They don’t even have baggers and most times only one or two cashiers going at a time and the lines get very long in these stores. So shame on you for remarking on something you know nothing about. And it is very probable that the person was just tired from shopping, tired from waiting in long lines, irritated at the store for not having more cashiers, etc. While it’s possible the person gave them an odd look about the food stamps and the large amount of food, it is more likely they were irritated at the wait. There are lots of people shopping at Save-a-lots using food stamps so very doubtful that is why they got a look. I could just as easily throw out the idea that they got a look for using coupons, which makes people in line wait longer. I have had to fall back on food stamps for a few months in the past until I got back on my feet. I also use coupons all the time to save some money. I get more looks for tying up the line with my coupons than I ever got for using food stamps. But since you can’t read people’s minds, I would suggest not making a big deal over a face they made when you have no idea for certain why they made that face. And don’t you have more better things to do in your life than to dwell on a strangers odd look that lasted only a few seconds? You seem to fail to understand that not only you are struggling, that people existing without food stamps are also struggling. So there is a lot of hurt going on right now. Getting angry on either side of it solves absolutely solves nothing but feeds into the chaos this country is feeling right now.

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          Those glares do mean something and are worthy of a reaction. I do not know if it had anything to do with the EBT transaction or not, however it does seem probable.
          As part of my job I help people with significant disabilities to access the community and learn skills required to live in their own homes. I have run into the stare all too often. I have to control my temper and tell the person I am assisting – in a very loud voice- to take their time and not hurry because doing things the right way takes time. If the person behind us continues the eyerolling, hte hurumphing, the bs things that are meant to let us know we are wasting his or her precious time. I walk back and sweetly “bless your heart for waiting, I guess it’s been a long time since your mama taught you to use your good manners in public….”

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    I get benefits because I’m disabled, and even when my disability is obvious, I’m pretty sure some idiot has looked at me that way. Haven’t noticed, because I’m also visually impaired, but I’m sure some ignorant idiot has stared at me. Because of the constant spreading of BS and the tendency of degrade people who receive benefits, I’ve mastered my trick of covering my EBT card with the hand I swipe it with. I’ve always been a bit self-conscious about using an EBT card, but not to this degree. Now I hide the little sucker as best as I can. And in all honesty, I’m glad I don’t notice people staring at me -if anyone does- because I don’t shut up, I’d tell them like it is loud so everyone hears and make them look like a-holes. That’s precisely the situation I prefer to avoid. Oh, and with my disability being obvious, -at least my visual impairment is- I’m sure there are the other category of idiots; the ones who would think I’m faking my disability to get benefits. Why in the flying fudge would I want to do that? Living off government benefits is not peaches and cream like most ignorant people think, it’s hard. I’ve tried to get a job, but gave up the job hunt because they act nice in front of me, but I know they scratch my name across or who knows throw my resume to the trash can, like happened to a friend of mine who noticed that being done with her resume. So I ended up saying ‘screw it, if you won’t give me a job, then don’t complain about your tax money being used to feed me’.

  5. Author Image

    Person was behind me. I had 4 kids. My husband had left. I was teaching and had food stamps. Comment was “Some of us have to work”

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      Let me start by saying how tough it must be to raise these kids on your own. Also, I agree that he was out of line and mean spirited for saying that. I try not to be a jerk like this fellow was, but I have also seen carts filled with expensive steaks, fresh sliced deli meats, and soda being bought with EBT cards. I was raised poor and those were definitely luxury items that we did not get. I remember being scolded because I once drank an entire 16 oz. bottle of Coke by myself and did not share it with any of my 3 siblings. Have I walked one step in your shoes? No, but you have not walked in mine either so we should all be careful before we

  6. Author Image

    I have nothing against food stamps. I have a whole lot of contempt for folks who waste these valuable resources on junk or who cash out their EBTs at their local convenience store for fifty cents on the dollar. Of course, I do not claim everyone who is no assistance is irresponsible or a fraud, but there are enough out there that they are going to ruin it for everyone. I would hope that a huge majority of recipients are using their entitlements frugally.

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    You know the thing about what people buy with their food stamps and then passing judging assuming they represent the vast majority is unsettling. people make choices I don’t agree with. My sister tends to buy a lot more meat than me and my best friend buys a lot Organic fruit and soy milk. Neither on food stamps but I think they still spend way more on those items than necessary. Now should my sis be vegetarian because I think that’s best? Should my friend skip organic because I think its a waste? I hate when I see ANYONE with sodas, regardless of how they pay. The points are: A. What people spend their money on, what they eat, how they prioritize is not my business. B. Food stamps have the lowest rate of fraud of ALL government programs. Bottom line, with the program at least 95% is helping those that need it. Without it 99% of us are screwed.

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    Please explain how one cashes in food stamps at any place for 50 cents on the dollar… Legally that is.

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      I was wondering the same thing. Probably just another misinformed/ignorant person assuming/accusing of things that are not true. Like people thinking food stamps will buy soap, toilet paper, diapers, etc., (also sometimes people think you can buy tobacco & alcohol) when you can not – legally that is. But I have heard of people trading (under the radar)some of their food stamp dollars for real money so they could buy their soap, toilet paper & diapers though…..

  9. Author Image

    It’s legal to use coupons with food stamp. Period. That’s how it is legal. You can’t discriminate against the impoverished in that manner.

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    Nice fictional story. The moral is never go to the banks or grocery stores when the government is handing out money. Yeah, I realize some people are down on their luck but still believe the majority of people on welfare a just lazy.\

  11. Author Image

    Your story, sadly, is NOT unique. The only people who look down on that are the fortunate FEW left who by some stroke of luck have never had to apply for government assistance. Why? Maybe some of them own businesses that their parents, or grandparents started so they’ve never had a day unemployed in their lives. Or they’ve gotten hired because they KNEW somebody that would hire them regardless of their less that competent skills.
    Or maybe they have trust fund or inheritance so they’ve never gone wanting. These are the misinformed, ignorant, judgmental people who I hope someday find themselves without a penny and have to go “begging” to the government. Until then, they try to make themselves feel “better than” by judging everyone else.

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    In this area there are many “caregivers” who do the food shopping for their elderly or infirm patients. The caregivers are all healthy looking individuals who might give the impression that they don’t need food stamps as indeed they don’t but the person they care for does need them! One just cannot judge by appearance!

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