An unfortunate fact of my life as a single parent has been that I have never made a lot of money, but always had a bunch of bills to pay, and two other mouths to feed. At different points in my life, I have gotten food stamps and regularly gone to food banks to fill in where I couldn’t. Am I proud of that? Obviously not. But I am kinda proud of the fact that my kids and I never went hungry. We came close, but there was always nutritious food to eat. And even if I couldn’t pay for it, I provided it, and that has always been very important to me.
Where To Start?
The first thing you should consider doing is to go to your closest food stamp office. Some states call it the “Self-Sufficiency” office, others may call it the Department of Health or Human Services. If you still can’t find it, it may be listed in the blue pages of your phone book under “food stamps”. Some states allow you to apply for benefits online or over the phone. However, it will almost always be faster to apply in person, as they can screen you for expedited benefits and give you the next available appointment. They will also be able to tell you immediately if your income is too high for food stamps, which will actually save you some time. It’s really discouraging to wait thirty days for your case to be processed, only to find out you make too much. It’s even worse when it’s a very small amount that you’re over.
That’s Great, But I’m Low On Food NOW And Don’t Know When I Can Buy More
You may be eligible for faster services ( in as little as one to seven days, depending on your state), if your income is less than or equal to your monthly living expenses, or a dire situation has occurred. You can always ask to be screened, if you’re not eligible; it didn’t hurt to ask. This just means that the state will postpone some of the necessary verifications, and give you benefits faster. It does not mean that you will necessarily receive next month’s benefits unless you submit the required paperwork on time. Check the dates! I’ve been declined because I thought I had an extra day, and I didn’t.
While you’re waiting for your food stamp benefits to be determined, you might want to check into food banks. An awful lot of churches offer food banks, in addition to bigger ones that are sponsored by the city. If your area has city wide information (often 211 or 311) they should be able to give you a list of food banks in your area. However, in my experience they don’t have all of them. Smaller churches do not always list themselves with city wide information, and therefore calling all of the churches in your area and asking might be a good idea. If a church says that they don’t have one, ask them if they know who does. You might very well find a new resource!
A church near my house had a food bank that I went to for years. They had a food bank that was available to the public, but they also encouraged their congregation to grow their own food and donate what wasn’t used. That meant that there was a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, like watermelon and corn, that cost almost nothing to grow. I never went to the church, because it wasn’t my religion, but I will always remember they generosity of those people, and what a good idea it was to do that.
As long as your schedule permits, you should be able to go to more than one food bank, and some food banks will allow you to come frequently, while others will limit your visits. Always try to ask, and always double-check the dates and times that the food banks are open. This is especially true if your time or transportation are limited, and as single parents who doesn’t have limited time? You might want to keep in mind that most of the food is donated, and you might want to get there as early as possible.
I’ve seen food banks that literally ran out of food after less than an hour, which can be scary if you’re depending on free food that day. Some food banks may have other services, like free disposable diapers, school supplies, or clothing banks. Always keep your ears open, you never know what you might hear in line.
Food is getting more expensive every day, and saving money on it whenever you can only makes sense. Food stamps and food banks are common grants for the single parent to receive, and that is nothing to ashamed of. Our goal, at the end of the day, should be that our children and ourselves are taken care of. I’ve known moms who said that they would go hungry before asking for help. I’ve never understood how making yourself sick is better than asking for help. After all, it will probably be very difficult to take care of your children when you are sick and emaciated. I believe that we owe our children healthy, strong parents, so that we can take care of them. It’s important to remember food stamps and food banks are only one very small part of that.