Food Stamps Done Right 

For some, it’s a difficult decision to ask for help, but Nicole Hustus says she had no problem putting aside her pride in order to feed her family.”If I didn’t have the food supplement program, I’d be one the starving adults to feed my children. I would definitely give all my food to them…definitely.”Nicole’s family is what the system calls “the working poor.” Her husband is a cook at a local restaurant and with three kids, the family decided Nicole should be a stay at home mom instead of using the paycheck she would maker for child care.This family of five is one of about 130,000 families in the state relying on the federal food supplement program.”I don’t have to take and worry about, I only have this amount of money. I can buy them good food, meats, veggies, and the yogurts and things they love to have.”As part of the program, nicole has what’s know as an EBT card.Based on her family’s size and income level, the government puts $598 per month on that card that she can only use to buy food with, food which has helped the family to a lead healthy lifestyle.”Oh definitely because if you have less money to be able to go buy food, you’re going to go buy that junk food because a bag of chips is going to got a lot further than the couple of apples.”Nicole is one of the people doing it right, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t heard the horror stories of people abusing the system.”It’s atrocious, it sickens me to see that people would do such a thing.”But even though she’s using the system properly, she still can’t avoid the “checkout stares.””Especially when it was the paper before, you didn’t really want to be in the checkout because you could feel the eyes on you of people just looking at you and just knew you were getting downgraded for it.”And it’s the people who cheat the system who give families like the Hustus’s a bad rap.”For anybody that’s using it for drugs and stuff like that, it’s absolutely terrible and they should just stop. There’s other ways to seek help. For the people that are selling it to get money, seriously, if you’re doing it for that reason, get the job to get yourself help.”Nicole says she understands that the negative stereotypes surrounding the food supplement program may never go away, but she often wonders how people would feel if roles were reversed..”They don’t know what we’re going through. Nobody knows what you’re going through until they’re going through it.”