It’s like 1:00am as I write this and I probably won’t post it until way later, but I can’t sleep so I’m writing this now. Also here’s a side note that has no relation to this post: Stockholm Syndrome by One Direction is an absolutely amazing song and I’ve only just realized how great it is!
Right – on to the post!
So, I’ve probably mentioned this in previous posts but just in case I haven’t or if anyone has forgotten, I am a junior in university and I’m majoring in social work. As part of the Bachelor’s of Social Work degree program, during the spring semester of our junior year, we are required to do 160 hours of internship, and then during both semesters of our senior year, we are required to do 240 (for a grand total of 480 by the time we graduate in May 2018 yas!). So for this semester, my internship is at the food pantry in the city near my university! I’m only two weeks in, but I already have quite a bit to say!
So, in case people wonder what I’m talking about or what we do, food pantries are there to help alleviate hunger in their community. Every week, stores (and the commissary as well), will donate food by the box loads to the pantry, and the food has to weighed then sorted by food type, etc. It’s more than feeding people, however. At the pantry where I’m interning, every Thursday night and Friday are “distribution days”, meaning the food is distributed to families who come to the pantry. However, before allowing clients to get food, they have to be interviewed to find whether or not they are eligible for services. They have to be 200% below the federal poverty line, and some clients are either receiving SNAP (food stamp) benefits or have applied or not receiving any at all.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve helped interview and serve over 160 people alone, and that number actually makes me happy and sad – sad that there’s so many hungry people, but happy that I’m helping so many people. In the small community that my internship place serves, in the last couple of weeks alone I’ve seen about 160 people alone – so that doesn’t even count the people that were clients before I started interning. I often look at the clients that come for our services – individuals that are hardly receiving enough social security money to pay for their homes, cars, and other utilities alone let alone food, individuals receiving SNAP benefits that are hardly enough for groceries for one week let alone one month, or just people who are down on their luck and are in the process of applying for benefits and need some food to hold them over. These last couple of weeks alone have changed my mindset so much it’s crazy.
I don’t understand why there are people in our government that want to take away benefits from people who genuinely need them. I won’t lie; my family has never been on any sort of welfare and such as we’ve always been blessed to be in a financial state where we did not have to rely on government benefits, but we’ve never once turned our nose up at people who GENUINELY need those benefits. We may frown upon people who abuse the system, but we’ve never frowned at those who really need those benefits. It’s sad that there’s people who genuinely believe that taking away benefits from everybody is the right thing to do. Fair enough; I understand we want to get rid of people who are able bodied and genuinely abusing the system because they don’t want to work and feel like the universe owes them something, but there’s a way to get rid of those recipients without taking away from those who are disabled or those who are elderly or those who are down on their luck for a little bit and genuinely need financial support.
And then, we get families where there’s an adult child who is able to work and help out but is basically living off of their elderly mother – don’t get me started bro.
I look at the clients that have come into my internship over the last couple of weeks, and one sticks out to me in mind. I won’t use this older lady’s name for confidentiality reasons, but her situation just sticks out to me. She was an elderly lady – in her 70s – and had her 40-something year old son living with her. The director of the pantry was interviewing her for eligibility and I was sitting in to observe the interview so I would understand how everything works, but this interview caught my attention. The elderly lady was hardly receiving much social security, and she was only receiving maybe 50-something dollars in the food stamps for the whole of the month.
First of all, in most shops and with the way food prices are going these days, 50-something dollars will hardly get anyone groceries for a week let alone a month.
Moving on with the story.
So the lady was hardly getting much money in social security to support herself and her home, vehicle and things that go with that, and then obviously she was hardly getting enough money in food stamps for the month (like I said, $50+ will hardly get people groceries for a week these days man), so she definitely needed our services.
But what was the irritating and infuriating part, you may ask?
We asked if her son had any income from work…
We asked if he was receiving any money from social security like disability…
And he was just sat there like the world owed him something.
HE LEGIT WAS NOT EVEN TRYING TO FIND WORK TO HELP HIS ELDERLY MOTHER. HE SAT THERE IN THE OFFICE WITH A SMIRK ON HIS FACE AS IF HE DID NOT CARE THAT HIS MOTHER WAS USING THE LAST OF HER OWN SOCIAL
SECURITY MONEY TO HELP SUPPORT HIM.
This situation made me so sad. The lady was so sweet and almost looked a bit sad about having to come to the food pantry for help, but it was as if her son didn’t care at all. He didn’t care that his mother was struggling. He didn’t care that she hardly received enough SNAP benefits for food.
He just didn’t care – and that’s what got me so upset.
Of course we didn’t turn her away; she was truly so grateful for our help and was really nice. I had a word with the director afterwards and she explained that they do get a lot of clients where there’s adult children who are able to find work but choose to live off of their mothers, and that’s a sad situation. I could never be like that. Fair enough if I’m down on my luck for a bit or something happens and I need to depend on my mom when I’m older, but if I’m able to go to work and make my own money to help my mom, that’s what I will do.
I even feel kinda bad now for asking my mom for money every week! (Lol).
While this was probably the only situation that properly stuck out to me, all clients have been different in their own way and I’ve heard some sad situations. The point is, these last couple of weeks have really opened my eyes to the situations of many people in the community. People are going to bed hungry right in our own backyards, and I think that A) we need to try and organize something to alleviate this problem that is SO close to home, and B) we must be more grateful for what we have.
I truly am grateful for what I have and I thank my internship for opening my eyes.
That’s all for now guys. Remember, be grateful for the food on your tables!