Food Stamps: Not Just for Rice and Beans

I don't hide the fact that I've been getting SNAP benefits since the great Cubicle Asylum liberation. That's sort of the problem with me, discretion is not a skill I've mastered . And, the second I know someone has a problem with it, I will get all up in their face and dare them to say anything. 

Getting all up in people's face is probably a wee part of how I lost my job. It's also reason #982 why I avoid going out in public as much as possible.  

But anywho...

With my SNAP benefit as my only income, I've learned a few tricks along the way. There are ways to use your limited food stamp allotment for other things around the house.  I'm nothing if not resourceful.
  1. Cleaning: Vinegar and baking soda are technically food items, but they're also great for cleaning jobs. When combined, they keep your drains running free and smelling sweet. I've used them for opening many a slow drain. Once it's completely stopped up, you'll probably have to break out the heavy artillery, at my house that's my coat hanger. Baking soda is also a mild abrasive for cleaning counters, pots and pans and... your teeth. A vinegar and water mixture is the best glass cleaner there is. Use newspaper instead of paper towels for a streak free shine. I've done this forever, especially in the car. Vinegar can also be used as a hair rinse, odor remover, critter cage cleaner and laundry softener. It's way cheaper than Downy, and no, your clothes won't smell like unicorn farts wafting over a field of flowers on a spring day, but they won't smell like vinegar either. Just clean. Totally works.
  2. Gardening: I didn't realize, until recently, that you can use your SNAP benefits to buy vegetable seeds and plants. I spent $35 dollars on seeds last month, which was a big chunk of my $194, but I've got a small plot, packed with tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, herbs, flowers, lettuce, spinach, squash and like... entirely too many beans. I don't know what I was thinking with all the beans, it's a good thing I love them. I have enough seeds for at least another year, so It was well worth the investment. Everything is just beginning to come up, I'll keep you posted on the progress. More on my adventure in gardening to come in another post. 
  3. Medicine: When you've got the creeping crud and the only earner in the house is between paychecks, you have to learn to think outside the box. Things to keep on hand are apple cider vinegar, local non-pasteurized-unfiltered honey, garlic and onion. The honey and ACV are a little pricey, but they last us a long time. They aren't items I buy every month and are available in town. There are countless recipes using ACV for colds, I'll leave you to hunt them down, but I add about a 1/4 cup of ACV (get the one that looks like snot in the bottom of the bottle,) to a 2.5 quart container, half a cup of stevia (most call for honey, but I have to watch the blood glucose,) fill with water and shake well. I keep it in the fridge and sip on it in the mornings, more if I feel the crud taking hold. You can also use ACV and honey to make a light salad dressing. Eating raw garlic and onions is an age old cure for just about everything. My next experiment is soaking garlic in honey and using it as a cough remedy. The most important thing to remember when using any of these ingredients is to keep them away from heat. Honey in your tea is tasty but heating the honey will kill the magical germ killy enzymes or whatever. Oh and lest I forget, elderberries. Anything made with elderberries will cure what ails ya.
  4. Entertainment: Due to a series of  circumstances, we don't have television. I mean, I'm able to watch some stuff online, but not often. I spend a lot of time sipping coffee in front of the kitchen window, watching the squirrels, birds and groundhogs. T.A. is concerned that I've named them all and have an anxiety attack whenever the squirrel crosses the road, but whatever. Once every couple of months, I buy a big bag of raw peanuts. The intention was to draw the crows to my yard, but I've found it's the tiniest little birds that love them the most. I also toss out stale bread and leftover cornbread. I made a couple of feeders out of Mason jars and my old chick feeders. T.A. brings me a bag of bird seed every once in while, if she's got the extra cashola. If you're lucky enough to have a hummingbird feeder, there's no need to buy special mix. 1 part sugar to 3 parts water is all you need and sugar is cheap.
In addition to stuff around the house, there are a few other perks to having SNAP. Once you have that card, you automatically qualify for other advantages. Food banks will extend your food stamps at the end of the month and if you have an EBT card, it's easy to cut through the red tape. We go to the food bank once a month and get a 2 person allotment, while we only get food stamps for one. Go figure. T.A. rolls her eyes when I yell, "IT'S CHRISTMAS!" when she comes in with our boxes. While they always have staples like cornmeal, dry beans, milk and bread, they also usually include snacky-type things that I don't normally buy. We've gotten pasta, cereal, meat, eggs, in addition to cookies, crackers, pizza fixin's and mystery canned goods. Occasionally they have pet food. We usually have to go the week before the food stamps come. 

You can also qualify for a free cellphone. Most people refer to these as Obama phones or welfare phones. I went through some drama to get one because I have a post office box, but I eventually had it shipped to Aunt Moses' address. Of course, it doesn't work in The Holler, in the middle of no-gawd-damned-where. I ended up loading it with a plant identification app, so it didn't lay in the drawer and go to waste. 
Thanks Obama.

Another food stamp perk most people aren't aware of, is the Farmer's Market. There's a national program that gives recipients double their SNAP dollar at participating Farmer's Markets. It takes a little poking around on the internet to find a participating location in your area, but they're there. 

If you have pets that aren't spayed or neutered, most counties offer free services to people with food stamps. Currently I have Nutmeg and Cisco that need to go for the snip snip and it would be free, but you have to drop them off at the ass crack of dawn and T.A. doesn't get home with the truck until after 9 o'clock. We're working on it.  

If you know anyone who's trying to get by on food stamps or trying to scrape by on limited funds, feel free to spread the word. I'm still finding out ways to stretch that dollar.

On a side note, I've removed the link to Ko-fi for a number of reasons, but mainly because I don't currently have a way to access the funds. I have Paypal, but they won't send me a debit card, due to my having a post office box. I was using the Paypal app to pay at the Dollar General (did you know it's a method of payment, like, straight from your phone to the store?) but my phone finally died. It lived a good life, I've had it since 2015. I haven't had service in over two years, but it worked on WiFi at least. 

Anywho, I'm trying to make myself write, even if it's babbling about food stamps. Comments are back on. Ya'll have a good one. We'll talk again soon, maybe.

Later Taters!!