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I am a 46 year old single mom who receives medicade, temporary disability (until Jan 2015) and rental assistance. My food stamps are currently pending and I get about $648 in child support a month which makes me ineligible for cash assistance.

 

I have PTSD ( pretty much lost my mind in Aug and went to the hospital) and multiple disc herniation, arthritis and migraines. I've recently began having trouble with my foot and hand making them both hard to use. I am awaiting my SSDI hearing which I was told will be early Spring or Summer 2015.

 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau I am $7326 below poverty level for a family of 2.

 

Food pantries in my area only give canned or boxed food (I guess because there isn't e great enough need) and most are expired and I even found spider webs in my noodles one time.

 

I am considering school mostly because of the financial aid and student loans which will help me out of this situation.

 

I really feel at the end of my rope here and awake every day to the pressure of it all.

 

I need a break in this life.

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deeschmee, it sounds like you are really having a rough time.  I'm going to make some suggestions---if you've investigated these already, just ignore me.  I want to be helpful, but I don't know where you are so some of my ideas may not be available in your area.

 

If you are considering school, make sure it won't endanger your SSDI.  I think it would be great to be trained for a new profession, but your physical and mental issues may make it impossible to work.

 

For immediate help, have you contacted Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army, and other (local) assistance programs?  Also, one of the churches or synagogues in your area may have emergency assistance. Sometimes they offer things like food or emergency financial assistance.  It's really crappy that the local food pantry gives you outdated food---have you told them that the stuff is past the expiration date?  Our food pantry specifically asks that we give only current stuff.

 

If you get rice, beans or pasta from a food pantry, put it in the freezer for a day or two before you eat it.  That will kill any animal life.  I know it's gross, but I've been hungry in my life and I learned to kill the food moths and bugs before I cooked the food.

 

I wish I had some concrete suggestions for you.  If the food pantry gives you lentils or beans, you can make soups with those that will feed you for a couple of days.  However, I wish that our needy people had access to fresh food.

 

olga

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I appreciate those suggestions. :)

I'm still waiting for catholic Charities to call me back. Most of my short term disability goes to food while I wait for foodstamp approval.

I'm behind in utilities, car insurance and phone. Rent is do able thanks to housing assistance.

we did get a turkey for thanksgiving also

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I'm sorry you're having such a rough time. I've lived well below the (Canadian) poverty line for my entire life. Olga has excellent suggestions.

My family still regularly uses food banks, and I agree that it's gross to get really old food. It depends on the food, but sometimes the expiry date is quite important. I've received half rotten heads of lettuce, moldy bread, and once I got strawberries with copious amounts of fuzzy mold. I know the food is free and all, but... C'mon...? I dunno. I find it insulting, quite frankly. It's not always that bad though.

Another suggestion - Depending on where you live, some homeless shelters will gladly let you have a hot meal, even though you have a roof over your head. There's a shelter here that gives out fresh lunches to take away, and the church across the street gives out snacks. There are different kinds of shelters though, some are more like detox places, better to avoid those. And don't bring your kids, just take food home to them.

There are women's groups in many communities, specifically for low income women. They're often there so women can get support, but also connect with potential friends, and other mothers. Oftentimes they just hang out, chat, craft, etc. It's really empowering to have a support group, and you can also help each other out with navigating resources.

Being poor fucking sucks, a lot. Unfortunately there are a lot of people living in poverty. But there's strength in numbers, you're not alone.

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I'm right where you are. I have my SSDI hearing in less than 2 weeks.

 

Be careful about going to college. You could get denied SSDI for that (even though it isn't considered work). It usually depends on how the judge views it. If you are applying for mental disabilities, it will look as if you can concentrate and adjust to stresses and get along with others. So you could be denied due to that. Just something to consider.

 

It's sad to hear about people who have been waiting so long for their disability hearings. I hear some people have to wait up to 2 years. That is too long.

I got a hearing set 5 months after I appealed. Because the SSA flagged my case as a critical status case due to my mental disability. I just don't know how people can go waiting longer than that. The stress makes everything worse!

 

Did you send in a dire need letter to see if you can get a hearing faster?

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I didn't think of soup kitchens!  I would definitely try to eat lunch at any of them in your area.  Some of them give you a little food package to take home.

 

It's criminal that people in this land of plenty are going hungry.  Makes me furious.

 

olga

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Olga, can people go to soup kitchens even if they aren't homeless? I was wanting to do that... to get a hot meal sometimes.

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They are open to everyone. They won't ask your status. Homelessness is a really blurry line anyway, and a lot more people are home-insecure than we would like to think.

Where I live it's possible to get a hot meal every day of the week but on Wednesday the place I go tells me all about Jesus first. Take what you can I suppose.

I wanted to add, after you freeze the food to kill the bugs when you open it you'll want to rinse it all off. That way you know it's bug-free. I know that it feels odd to rinse pasta, but it's important to get the body bits out.

Does your child qualify for (a) free meal(s) at their school? That can help to stretch what food resources you have available.

Another thing that I like to do is pick the leaves of the decorative kales. They seem to be pretty popular around these parts and they're fresh. I know I'm getting a local vegetable lots of people pay top dollar for that!

I also recommend comfort centres and the like. For a free breakfast it's pretty decent. ND the access to community, as well as services, is so important. Drop-in centres have been pretty crucial to my continued existence.

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It makes me want to cry to read that people have to get such crappy food from the food pantries.

 

I plan on making a food donation if I win my SSDI. I want someone to have some good quality food.

 

The food I got today from the pantry was kind of crappy. They even gave me feeding tube formula. I don't have a feeding tube.

 

But it's the thought that counts I suppose.

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dee, do you have a lawyer for your SSDI hearing?

 

Please ask your lawyer about getting a dire needs letter sent in or something. Also if you have suicidal or violent thoughts, please have your doctor/lawyer/friend/family write a letter and mail it to ODAR. That will get you a hearing really fast.

 

You can also write your congressman and ask about getting a hearing date faster.

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Donating food to a food bank is an admirable thing of you to do when you're financially able. I bring clothes and knitted stuff to the local food pantry/thrift store. I use the pantry quite often and want to give back. 

 

I can't believe that the food bank would have food as bad as many have said! That's just terrible.

 

I feel for you. I'm far below the poverty line on Ontario Disability, and it sucks. I hope you get approved.

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I'm glad Rosie answered you, but yes, soup kitchens are for anyone who needs a meal.  I don't know of any in my area that ask where you live or how much money you have.  If you're hungry, check out the possibilities in your area:  churches, Salvation Army, non-profit outreach groups, etc.

 

Rosie is right about rinsing the food---I forgot that part. :dunce:  I rinse brown rice, lentils---anything that I think might have had moths or other bugs in it. 

 

Take heart---maybe there will be more people giving to food pantries in your area this time of year and you will get better food.

 

olga

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I have been there.  While I was waiting for my SSDI hearing, I was on food stamps, and things got really difficult.  I was going to school part time, and I took out loans to live on, but that still wasn't enough money to support myself.  I had to move in with a friend for a period of time.  It was very humbling for me to have to use food pantries, but I was willing to take any help I could get.  Sometimes the food was horrible, either bad or inedible, but for the most part, it was good.  I guess I feel lucky about that. 

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Everyone thank you for your support. Great ideas. I'm in a pretty rural area but I could see about a hot meal somewhere.

 

I do have an SSDI lawyer and could ask about a dire needs letter.

 

Yes my daughter gets free lunch and this is what happened today after school: My daughter and I got into a heated discussion and she ended up crying her eyes out because we are so poor and the kids make fun of her at school and why cant I just get a job so we don't have to be poor?

I told her the doctor took me out of work and she said so what? why don't you just go ahead and get a job to help this family not be poor?

 

Damn if that didn't cut deep. From the mouths of babes.

 

I SERIOUSLY want to just work and screw disability.

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I'm sorry to hear that. :(

You are allowed to work while waiting for your hearing. It has to be under a certain amount per month to which is referred to as Substantial Gainful Activity. But ask for accommodations, such as frequent rest breaks and have that and any work difficulties documented. Be prepared to explain the job situation to the judge. Some judges won't ask about any work if it is under Substantial Gainful Activity, but some will use it to deny you.

Same goes for college. You are allowed to attend college. But each judge will have their own views on it. Make sure you get disability accommodations if you decide to register for college.

Some lawyers advise against doing either before a hearing. Seek your lawyers advice on the situation.

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My church has a very large garden for anyone's use. It even had a winter garden.

Maybe a church in your area does something similar.

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Yes my daughter gets free lunch and this is what happened today after school: My daughter and I got into a heated discussion and she ended up crying her eyes out because we are so poor and the kids make fun of her at school and why cant I just get a job so we don't have to be poor?

I told her the doctor took me out of work and she said so what? why don't you just go ahead and get a job to help this family not be poor?

Damn if that didn't cut deep. From the mouths of babes.

I SERIOUSLY want to just work and screw disability.

I can only imagine how awful that must have felt, to hear her say those things. You're doing your best though. Hopefully when she's older, she'll be able to reflect on that and understand more fully.

I'll admit, I sometimes said those things to my mother when I was a kid. One time I naively told my dad he should get a better job. But it came from a place of frustration, and being unable to understand the situation. As I'm sure you know, kids don't have the life experience to make sense of the situation. And depending on their age, they likely don't even have the cognitive ability to see beyond their own wants and needs. Plus it sucks to be bullied.

The good news is, I've observed that most kids come to understand eventually. I was sad, then angry as a teenager, and finally accepting as an adult.

It was startling to suddenly realize that my mother is a normal human, she existed as a woman before I was born, and she did the best she could as a mother. It sounds like a basic idea but it was pretty powerful for me to realize that my mother is not superhuman. She has flaws and makes mistakes. She has been depressed, and it must have been incredibly hard to raise three kids while fighting her own battles.

You're doing a hard job, Dee. You can do it though.

Oh god, I'm all teary eyed! I'm sorry if that was way uncalled for, I just want you to know it'll be okay! And I love my mother! I should go tell her that!

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Savannah; that is quite frankly amazing! No church in my area is that progressive :(

 

Parapluie; not uncalled for at all. It actually helps very much to know Im not alone.

thank you to everyone for responding xo

 

It makes me want to work very hard to get out of poverty any way I can

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Are you in the USA? If so, try calling 211 or going to 211.org; they may have resources that you may not know about. (You might know of them all already, but hey - it might be worth a shot). 

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