Tuesday , April 16 2024

Lunch Nazis – The Price of Poverty

The blogosphere is awash in controversy lately over this decision. Some right wing folks have different ideas of what should be done with their tax dollars – and using them to pay for school lunches isn’t one of them.

The moderates among us are outraged at the callousness, and they should be. But until you clutch that government assistance in your hand and give it to the powers that be for approval, it’s all just conjecture.

As the economy continues to falter and jobs become even more scarce, government resources will invariably become a necessity for those whose incomes suddenly fall below the poverty line.

Oh boy does this pain the hard-core conservatives in this land. There is nothing they hate more than their tax dollars going to lend a helping hand to the factory worker’s family after his or her job’s been eliminated. Can you imagine the heart palpitations as the number of women applying to WIC for food stamps increase so they can buy some bread and cheese for their kids?


My husband and I have VERY different ideas of what is poor and what it means to be poor. And I have VERY different ideas of what it means to be poor compared to someone who is REALLY poor. Poor as in, they don’t EVEN HAVE SOME DIMES TO RUB TOGETHER to buy some milk for my their kids.

But I have seen the price of poverty that is paid and people need to understand that those handouts don’t come without one.

I am certain there are people with no pride or no shame, who take whatever the government hands them without a second thought. They use their foodstamps to buy items that aren’t for feeding their families. They abuse the system, have more kids than they can afford and refuse to use the government assistance for what it’s for: a temporary measure when times are tough.

FOLKS, times is tough.

So forget those people who do what we all loath – waste and abuse our tax dollars. Let’s talk about your average working class American who works hard, pays taxes and doesn’t abuse the system, their kids, or their opportunity.

When I was a young person, about twelve or so I became friends with two sisters. Their mother was single and they had an older brother and a much older sister. Four kids altogether, all from the same dad – a dad who had long since left but not before abusing all of them and leaving them destitute.

Their mother had to use the government’s assistance. She had no choice. She took kids into her home and baby-sat, something she could do and care for her own kids as well. She used whatever money she had to buy the things foodstamps wouldn’t pay for. She was frugal and wise with her money. Her older kids lived with her and paid a small rent. Her daughters were given lunch vouchers.

One day when I had no money on me and lunchtime came around my friend said, “Oh don’t worry Dawnie, you can share my lunch with me.” It was a Monday and she had to go get her voucher from the school secretary. This was my first insight into bureaucracy. She had to wait in line with the students waiting to be reprimanded, counseled, buying books, tickets to school functions, etc., and when the time came for her turn, she said “May I please have my school lunch voucher for this week?”

It doesn’t take long before the entire school knows that you’re poor and you’re mommy can’t afford to pay for lunch.

It’s no different than now, having lost my job and health insurance, when I take my kid to the dentist and they say in a condescending tone with a pitiful look, “We don’t accept Medicaid, sorry.”

SHAME, EMBARASSMENT, and the knowledge that you aren’t quite up to snuff, you don’t make the grade, you don’t cut the FUCKING MUSTARD LADY.

To those without pride and initiative, perhaps this is nothing to worry about, but to a person who has given to the system, feed the homeless, donated to the poor and paid her own way no matter what that took, IT IS PAINFUL.

I am an adult and braced for such rejection, but for a teenager, or a child who doesn’t really understand the complexities of wealth, all they know is that they are poor and somehow, some way, they are just not good enough in the eyes of their peers, and apparently the world.

If that isn’t a price for poverty, what the hell is?

About Dawn Olsen

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