Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

College students need food pantries these days

When I saw this article on the Yahoo home page, it brought back some rather unpleasant memories. Like the kids currently in college, I also was in college during a very bad downturn in the nation's economy. And like these kids, the economy tanked due to an unpopular war that was depleting not only the nation's population, but the war chest as well. I was a student during the Vietnam war. It was a very difficult time for the nation as a whole, but for college kids that were not being supported by their parents, it was a time of poverty as well.

I worked all through college. I had a variety of jobs, from the worst job I've ever had making puzzles at Milton Bradley one summer, to one of the best jobs I've ever had, working in the University Book Store during the school year. I was an office worker, an archaeologist, a cook, and I built kilns. You name it, I did it during college. I was a hard worker because I way paying my own way through college. My parents didn't give me a red cent towards my college education, a real deal breaker as far as our relationship was concerned. They left me in severe debt because they were assholes. Yes, they had the money. But no, they wouldn't even think of sharing it was a daughter.

Anyhow, in college I was so poor I qualified for food stamps. In fact, had I not gotten food stamps, I don't think I would have eaten. It wasn't a lot of money, in fact I think it was something like $40/month, but to me it was the difference between having food and not. Additionally, I did have to hit the food pantry a few times, as did many of my friends and classmates. We were so freaking poor back then, and I can remember thinking that I'd never be in that position again. How little I knew about what the future could bring.

We live in an incredibly rich country. We're spending trillions of dollars on an unpopular war. A war that could be financed by Iraq themselves, as they have a huge surplus of money. But we keep paying for this war, and every dollar spent there is another dollar taken away from the citizens of this country.

Why is it that we can pay so much for war, but we can't pay for universal health care for our citizens? Why is it that we toss away money on a country that wants us to leave, when we could be spending it on education. Why are we building buildings and roads over there when our own buildings and roads are crumbling? I honestly don't understand it.

I have heard that another bailout is in the works, and that bailout would be used to extend unemployment compensation and for the food stamp program. I think it's great that UI will be extended. 28 weeks in this economy is barely enough to find any job, never mind a good job. But the food stamps? That's a total red herring. While it sounds great, in actuality I have to question who it's going to help. Because, as I've ranted here before, the way eligibility for food stamps is calculated is based on the poverty level, and the poverty level hasn't changed since the 60's. People who were laid off aren't going to qualify because they have back wages that will keep them above the poverty level. People with savings won't qualify. Even now that they have changed the laws and you can now own property and automobiles, most people are not going to qualify unless they have been out of work for many many months with no income at all coming in. It's crazy how the food stamp program is run because it's supposed to help people and yet so few people actually qualify that it only helps a small fraction of the people in need.

I'm not buying this bailout until something is done about the poverty level calculations. I'm disgusted that the government is trying to fool the populace by making it sound like this is going to be helpful to a lot of people. It isn't. And you should make sure that your representatives realize this. Because most of them don't have a freaking clue.

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Blogger Daisy said...

We found out a student didn't come to school today because her shoes broke. Her mom is saving all her paychecks to get them a rental of their own; they're doubled up with another family now.
Bailouts full of pork do this family no good.
She's now wearing a pair of shoes left in the gym office.

13/10/08 9:42 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

Daisy, that is just so heartbreaking. Does your school have a donation box for kids who really need clothing and shoes? Maybe it would be a good idea to start one. Put it in the main office and let the parents come and help themselves. I know that our old elementary school used to keep the lost and found clothing that wasn't claimed in a month available for anyone to take. That was pretty damn helpful to our family a few times.

13/10/08 10:08 PM  

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