Mothers Shouldn’t Have To Feel Ashamed Of Using Food Stamps To Feed Their Kids

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New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin recently appeared on Fox & Friends to discuss entitlement programs in the US. As many Republicans have been discussing, more families are receiving food stamps in this country than ever before. This probably has something to do with the fact that one in five children was living in poverty in 2009. It might just be because 17 million children in the US live without consistent access to enough nutritious food for a healthy life.  It makes sense that in the face of these staggering statistics and a huge economic recession that families would be enlisting the help of the social safety net to feed and nourish their children.

Even though it makes sense, Mr. Goodwin is a little upset that all these parents don’t seem more ashamed of their poverty. According to him, the lowest on the socioeconomic ladder aren’t suffering enough, because they don’t have even the decency to be embarrassed about accepting the government’s help. “Shame used to be part of this,” said Goodwin referring to the culture that used to accompany applying for and receiving government assistance. “Now we look at it – we’ve seen this explosion of entitlements and the sense of shame is gone.” And obviously, he thinks that this lack of shame is a bad thing.

Well, I have a little message for Michael Goodwin, as a mother who was actually in a position to possibly ask for the government’s assistance. It’s not a part of my life that I talk about very frequently, but I think this conversation might just need a little insight from someone who has been a single mother trying to support her child.

When I first had my daughter, I was a single young mom. I worked full-time, but for a small business owner that didn’t provide any employee health benefits. I was making less than $3o,ooo a year as an office manager and receptionist for a salon. I paid for my own apartment, insurance, and obviously, full-time child care. I was back at work a mere three weeks after having my daughter. And really, I was barely keeping my head above water.

I distinctly remember my mother sitting me down and asking me to please consider applying for some aid. “You could just get some help with childcare costs. They have subsidies for that. You can’t scratch by every month. What if something happens and you don’t have any savings at all?” She tried to convince me that there was nothing wrong with accepting help. She said that we were all paying our taxes so that we could get some help if we ourselves in a position like this. This is what the social safety net is supposed to do, after all.

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