I'm on food stamps. Don't hate me for it.

“I am on food stamps. This will surprise almost everyone who knows me. I have hidden it from friends, from family, from classmates. I use self-checkout at the grocery store so I don’t have to face judgment from the cashiers. I read countless posts on Facebook and receive political emails telling me that being on food stamps makes me a degenerate, someone who is dependant and useless. I hear about how I should be kicked off of food stamps so I won’t be so lazy and will get a job. At the time the economy crashed, I was studying to be a chiropractor. My (now ex-) husband was laid off from his good job. It took him over a year and a half to find a new job. During that time we lost our house and had to declare bankruptcy. Our marriage fell apart.….I’m not writing this to ask for support. I am so blessed to be able to make ends meet and continue my education. I am writing this because I’m tired of the hate. I’m tired of being embarrassed. And I’m tired of the ignorance. Unless you’ve lost everything, you cannot possibly understand what drives someone to accept food stamps. How hard it was for them. How they cried when they submitted the application. How they are made to feel ashamed for accepting help. You are entitled to your opinion. I respect that. But please consider my story the next time you are tempted to post or email hateful jokes; the next time you discuss with a friend how everyone on food stamps is taking advantage of the system. I never imagined this would be my story. I was an A student, top of my class. I went to college, got a job and continued my education toward a post-graduate degree. I did everything I was supposed to do to have the bright, amazing future I was promised by my teachers in school. Life doesn’t always turn out the way it does in storybooks.” Excerpted from “‘I’m on food stamps. Don’t hate me for it.’” by Vicki Jones, Chicago Sun-Times, March 19, 2012.