Finally after tons of miscommunication and crazy-ness, and line waiting( I mean lots of line waiting). I finally have regular food stamp benefits.
I know some people look down on people who have food stamps. They have a certain stigma about them. I think this recession has shown that poverty has many faces. Honestly, I've made much less in my life before and didn't qualify for food stamps. I do feel like that since I've been a good hardworking tax paying citizen and National Services said that as a VISTA I qualified for food stamps.
The process is a long and confabulated one. Back in August when I finally had a room to call my own I went and applied for the first time. I started at 8:30am and by 4:00pm it was over. It was very simple, I showed up with my Americorps letter and lease and I received pro-rated Expedited Food Stamps. After that is when the fun started, partially induced by who I rent from, for failing to give my rent receipt in a timely fashion which caused me to be denied for regular food stamps. I admit that was my bad, but talk about punishment for making one mistake. That was the first week of September and I spent the rest of the month calling, and going up there about once a week to no avail.
Waiting really is the hardest part. It's at least a 2 hour ordeal. If you get there at 8:30 when they open there's already a line. Don't even think you can get this done during your lunch hour. They're closed Noon to 13:00 for lunch and the line for the afternoon start around 12:30, by the time 13:00 rolls around there are easily 50 people in the line. Did I mention this is the line just a get a number? Not be served? With number in tow you wait for it to be called, fill out some forms, sometimes wait again.
Can I really complain? Should I? It wasn't really until they "lost" my information that my patience started to wear. I went up there to reapply, they told me I couldn't because I hadn't been off of food stamps long enough. I filled out another form and gave the lady a copy of my rent reciept, bank slip, pay stubs, and Americorps letter. When I got in touch with my case worker she never got it. I had to reapply again. Very firmly and as polite as I could muster I explained my fatigure. My case worker is very helpful and nice, when I went up there she came out so I wouldn't have to wait so long and gave me the right forms and I even got my September benefits. Honestly the majority of the problem just lies within the system itself. They're overwhelmed, it's a fact. The expedited food stamps and the regular food stamps process are different and the people in each department don't understand the other's requirements, which causes major problems when you transfer from expedited to regular.
I pray that I'm never in a situation where I'll need to apply for food stamps again, because honestly I think I'll just stick to potatoes and franks.
I still stand by the theory that the system is designed so that a decent percentage will give up before or during the application process, or will be frustrated and have a row with one of the workers causing them to escorted from the building. I'm not saying it's a person, it's just the flawed government system.
...and these are the same folk some of you want to run the health-care system?