I used to be a tad judgmental about people who used things like WIC or food stamps. It wasn’t my official policy to be judgmental about those things, as I have always believed those programs to be a beneficial aid to people who need it, and know many AWESOME mommas who use it to help provide good food for their kiddos during otherwise difficult financial times. But passing judgement came rather easily when I saw that little blue “Nevada” EBT card get pulled out at the register, and my idea of who “needed” that didn’t fit with the person I saw in front on me (this is judgement at its ugliest).
Sporting a fancy iPhone? You obviously don’t need help.
Have four kids (like me?)? Maybe you should’ve made sure you could provide for those kids before you had them.
Easy to judge. And then one day….I needed it.
Until I utilized WIC myself, I never realized how badly I had been judging people. We never know someone’s story, and we should never judge. Besides being totally rude and inconsiderate, being judgement seems to do something yucky in our hearts. It’s better to just avoid it.
Several years ago, my husband had just switched jobs, and I was working part-time teaching. My husband was one month away from super awesome insurance at his new job. He was playing in a men’s soccer league on Mother’s Day (ahem, I KNOW!), when he suffered an incredibly serious injury to his knee. So serious, in fact, that there was a greater than 50% chance of amputation. He tore three of the four ligaments, as well as shattered the capsule that holds the artery, dislocated his knee, and tore his hamstring. And guess what? That cost A LOT of money without insurance. By using a Nevada discount medical program that we were a part of in the interim of health insurance (Access to Healthcare), they helped us get the cost down from $100,000 to $20,000, but it was all due BEFORE surgery (we ended up getting $5,000 of that back from the soccer league insurance). We maxed out our credit cards (what a horrible feeling…we had never done that before. Sorry, Dave Ramsey.) and got some help from family. But we made it happen, because this was his LEG we’re talking about, people. I kinda liked it attached (and I’m certain he felt the same way!).
This left us in a paying-off debt, no money for anything else mode for the next year and a half. Things were tight, but we managed.
And then one day in the midst of all this I had a sick kiddo. And in my head I caught myself thinking, “I have $40 left in grocery money this week. My co pay is $40. I can either buy food or take my kid to the doctor.”
I realized that a little help until we could dig ourselves out a bit would be not only really nice, but a necessity for adequately caring for my children. Even so, I debated for a good month. I had to seriously suck up my pride. We have always helped others, I didn’t want help myself! Plus, what would people think? What would people think when they saw me with my four kids (and an iPhone) pull out one of those little blue cards to pay for some of my groceries
I eventually got over myself (albeit, only “kinda”) and headed to the WIC office. The people were nice. They were kind and helpful. We were given a card, and each month it would be loaded with: milk, rice, beans, peanut butter, cheese, bread, tortillas, eggs, produce budget, baby food, cereal, oatmeal, etc. Just some basics to help out while we got to a better place financially.
I’d shop and try my best to hide my card at checkout. Always worried about what people would think. Because I had always been one of those judgmental people, and I certainly would’ve judged myself.
And after a little while on WIC, we got to a much better place. All our hospital debts were paid off, and my husband’s clientele at work started growing (which meant more income). So I called the WIC office, gave them a huge “THANK YOU!” and informed that we no longer needed their help.
Here’s the deal, there are so many people who use WIC and food stamps who really need it. There are, of course, people who abuse the system, but I really want to think the best of people, especially after my experience. The things we don’t see-people’s situations, unexpected medical things that come up, job loss, etc. are real. We never think those things are going to happen to us. But sometimes they do, and it’s okay to say, “I need a little help.” It’s an absolutely humbling experience.
From this day forward, I commit myself to NOT judge people I see using these programs. I don’t know their history. I don’t know if they’re going through a really tough time or if their spouse just lost their job or if they’re a single mom just trying making ends meet. They need my sympathy and encouraging smiles and prayers more than whatever judgmental thought I can think of at the moment. I encourage you, too, the next time you see someone using one of these programs to avoid the urge to pass judgement. Give a smile instead. You just never know the behind the scenes stuff.
Every state has WIC programs (Women, Infants, Children). If you are pregnant or have a child under age 5, you can qualify based on your income. Income qualifications, I believe, are a bit higher than those for food stamps. You are given food allotments based on your children’s ages. If you are in need of some help with food, PLEASE contact your local WIC office. There are wonderful people there who will help you out-with food, breast pumps to encourage/help with breastfeeding, and advice. Happy Thanksgiving!