Something about Food Stamps

I’ve never had them myself. I saw what my grandma went through when she needed them to live.  I’ve seen and heard people say very nasty things when someone pays with food stamps. My only experience with them was when I was a young girl staying with my grandma for a while. 

My grandma was widowed at 52. Prior to that, she’d been married to my grandpa who died at 56. They built a life together. They were married very young. In fact, I still have her wedding ring she gave me that my grandpa bought for her in 1930-something. She raised two boys. They worked their entire lives together and then he died. And she had nothing. 

My grandma worked. I never went to stay at grandma’s house. I stayed at wherever grandma was a live-in caretaker or housekeeper. My mom and dad would send me to stay with her for a week or two– anything I could. We went grocery shopping quite a bit. She mostly lived off of homemade soup and bread. She didn’t buy canned soup or bagged bread. She bought the ingredients with food stamps, cooked it all and froze whatever she could to keep eating. When we got to the checkout, she’d pull out her food stamps as her face turned red and she told me, “it’s terrible to have to rely on food stamps. I’m glad to have them but people aren’t very nice to you.” This was 30+ years ago. 

My grandma could have bought more with food stamps, but every year, she’d start saving them for Christmas.  Regardless of her circumstances, she would still have her family over for Christmas. She’d save food stamps so she could cook a big enough turkey, sometimes a ham, mashed potatoes, home made dressing, vegetables, and lefse. Opal made the best lefse. 

Grandma worked her entire life but it still wasn’t enough. All of her jobs were taking care of people. She’d stockpile those food stamps for that one day a year she could cook for her family and we loved her very much.  We miss her Christmases. It wasn’t until years later that I understood the sacrifices she made for her family. 

So, when people like your North Dakota Congressman do things like cutting food stamps and justify it by saying, “he that does not work, should not eat.” I think of my grandma.  

When people share receipts from grocery stores when someone bought food (steak, lobster, whatever), I think of my grandma. She saved up what she had to give her family one amazing meal each year.  Are we really so petty as to deny people that now? 

If you think Kevin Cramer is a good representative of North Dakota values, I sincerely beg to differ. My grandmother was as close to a saint as I’ve ever seen. In Kevin Cramer’s country, she would have starved.  

Sometimes,  I wonder how my grandma would feel about me telling her stories and sharing them.  I think she may have worried, but still have been proud. 

That’s all.