Some People Thinks Those On Food Stamps Are Like Animals


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So this post will probably make some of you not happy, especially the ones who believe that the ones who are struggling should be forced to starve and beg.  A few weeks ago, a Facebook post went viral and made a lot of people angry!  The Oklahoma Republican Party Facebook page put out a post comparing those on food stamps to those who feeds the animals in a national park.  The post reads:

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The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing this year the greatest amount of free meals and Food Stamps ever, to 46 million people.

Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us “Please Do Not Feed The Animals.”  Their stated reason for the policy is because “The animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.”

Thus ends today’s lesson in irony.

Yep, they said that!  Soon that post was deleted and an apology was posted on their Facebook page.  But it was too little too late.  So I wanted to talk about why people like me are stuck on food stamps.  And there are a couple of reasons.  For starters, the economy in some areas is still in a recession or depression state.  For some people, there are no jobs to go too!  Sure, you could say these people should just move, but you have to deal with finding a new place to live, changing addresses, getting new licenses if you move to another state, and all of this costs a lot of money, that most new employers will not pay!

Second, for people who might have a job?  Some people are stuck in a part time job, or others might have a full time job, but the pay is low. Please quit saying these people should “improve their skills” or “should get a second job.”  Heck, some people with four year degrees or more are still unemployed!  And in some areas, second jobs are unavailable.  So there have to be safety nets like food stamps, so people do not have to choose between food or paying the bills!  Some people are stuck in patterns like this because no one will give them a chance to show what they can do.  And don’t blame this on Obamacare, that argument is futile!

And third, some people with disabilities have an extremely hard time proving to others that they can be valuable in the work world.  For me, I have Asperger’s Syndrome, and I have been unemployed for over four years and have been turned down from nearly 1,700 job applications.  So what do I do if you think I should not be on food stamps and just starve, just because some people out there thinks I am a lazy idiot?  Sure, I might be attempting to get on SS Disability, it’s because no one there is willing to give me a chance.  So I have to stay on food stamps and hope I can get an income from the government, that sucks!

I am glad the food stamp or SNAP program is around!  If we never had a food safety net, people would be starving, and churches and food banks could not handle the massive amount of people starving after the great recession.  I know some out there would love to take away all programs that helps the poor.  But thankfully there are also people who care about the poor, and will fight to make sure the poor does not suffer!  I support the ones who care about the poor!

Shape Up! – What You Can Get On Food Stamps


Geek Alabama Shape Up!

Those of you that knows me for a while now knows that I am on food stamps. Look, I am not happy being on SNAP and would rather be making money and buying my own groceries.  But when no one will hire you and you have crossed the 1,500th job rejection, what can you do?  So for now, I am on food stamps until someone hires me or I get on Social Security Disability.

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So, those of you who are on food stamps knows how painful it can be, but you are also grateful that you are not starving in the United States.  So, for the ones who likes to criticize me on social media, I only get $190 a month on food stamps.  That means I have to plan meals for 30-31 days each month on that $190.  This means I only get about $5 a day to eat, only $5, that’s it!  So, how is it like to spend so little at the store?

Let’s start with the produce, sadly most of this is out of my budget.  I mean, spending around $3-5 on a bag of salad when you only can spend $40-45 a week (7 days) is out of my reach.

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Then stuff like apples that costs over $5 for a bag is also out of my reach.  Remember, you have only $45 a week to feed yourself.

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And last week, a pack of chicken breasts and a pack of pork chops both costed over $10!  Too far out of my budget!

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So, what do I buy with the $40-45 a week?  I decided to take photos of what I would eat for the entire week, and you also have to remember this.  Anything I buy I also must walk back home for over a mile!

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So, I buy the most food I can get for the lowest price.  I want a full belly, and not feel hungry.  And on weekdays, I only eat one meal a day for dinner, and that is it!  On weekends, I try to have some breakfast, and I buy a box of frosted flakes for 89 cents, and milk for about $2.50, the cheaper the better, and I don’t care about the nutritional stuff.

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So for two nights of dinner, I got a pack of hot dogs for $1.39, hot dog buns for $1.29, and fries for $1.99.

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Two other nights of dinner features a pack of ground meat for $5.50, hamburger buns for $1.29, cheese for $1.99, and fries for $1.99.

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Two other nights of dinner features 10 fish fillets for $4.99 and mashed potatoes for $2.

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And one other night of dinner features a frozen pizza for $3.50 and garlic bread for $1.99.

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I also try to eat something sweet after dinner a few nights a week.  Even people trying to lose weight will enjoy some ice cream, and for $2.50, it’s a deal!

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And for a snack, it’s microwave popcorn for $1.19.  I can only afford the cheap stuff!

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I also brew some sweet tea at home which I enjoy during dinner.  100 tea bags cost $1.18 and the sugar cost $1.99.

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And I have plenty of refillable water bottles at home.  I use these flavor packets where I get 8 for $1.

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At the end, everything costs about $40.  And that is all I can afford!  Look, when someone hires me I can concentrate on eating healthier and can afford to eat healthier.  When people are on a very extremely tight budget, they are going to get the most food possible for the lowest cost.  Who cares about the fat and calories!  To sum things up, which will make your belly more fuller?  One apple or a big bag of microwave popcorn?

And let me talk about something else!  I posted this photo showing that I had some foot pain.  When you do miles and miles of walking, it is eventually going to happen!

Some people on social media suggested some things like:

Might be time to consider losing some weight bro.. even 20lbs would help your feet.

You don’t need money to exercise. You can use your own body weight to work out.

The ONLY thing that will make you lose weight is a caloric deficit. You MUST eat less calories than you utilize during the day.

You gotta ditch the empty carbs… Bread, sugar, flour, wheat. By the way, most of those end up as sugar and then fat. Better to avoid.

How about jump rope and air squats?

Well, good luck with that!  Without any income, what can you do?  To do more things like eating healthier, or doing more exercises, which can not be done at my apartment because people hear me and complain, you need something that is 5 letters long.  I will let the GIF below tell you what I need!

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Kickstarter Tuesdays: Good And Cheap / The Before Project


Geek Alabama Kickstarter Projects

This week on Kickstarter Tuesdays, I am talking about one project about a way to eat healthy and cheap.  And another project talking about a special documentary film!

Good And Cheap Cookbook

Leanne Brown created Good and Cheap which is a gorgeous cookbook for tight budgets. It’s free online, but they want to get it out to more people by funding a print run.  They want your help to fund printed copies so that they can get Good and Cheap into the hands of people who don’t have computers or who wouldn’t otherwise see it. The expensive part of printing books is the initial set-up; the cost of each additional copy is fairly low. The more books you buy, the more she can donate or sell at a massive discount to organizations that support low-income families on SNAP (the modern name for Food Stamps).

So what is the book like?  Just download a free PDF and take a look for yourself!  But since you asked, it’s 132 pages (so far!) of beautifully designed and photographed recipes that fit into a $4/day budget — without seeming like it. This is good food that happens to be inexpensive.  If you downloaded the book when it first when viral, grab a new copy: the earlier version was just a draft, but the final version of Good and Cheap has been edited and redesigned throughout.  She wants this book to be as accessible as possible. That’s why she has made it free online, and nearly 100,000 downloads to date proves there is both a willing audience and a need.

Her dream is that everyone who could benefit from this book would be able to get a copy, at whatever price they can afford.  For many, that means keeping it free — even in printed form.  Because printed books cost money, a scheme was born: $25 buys one copy for you and a second copy that she will donate to someone who needs it.  Once she reaches her goal, she will approach organizations to figure out who to entrust with getting these books into the hands of low-income families and individuals.  She hopes to be able to work with a variety of organizations for the greatest reach.

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She created this cookbook as the capstone project for her master’s degree in Food Studies at NYU.  She wanted to make something that not only summed up the work she had done during her studies, but also had a useful life outside of academia.  It bothered her that so many ideas for fixing the food system leave out the poor: it seemed like they didn’t have a voice in the food movement.  She wanted to create a resource that would promote the joy of cooking and show just how delicious and inspiring a cheap meal can be if you cook it yourself.  Even though Food Stamps help millions of people across the United States every day, benefits were reduced in November despite rising food prices.  It’s more important than ever to make the most of what you have with savvy shopping techniques and skillful cooking. That’s Good and Cheap.

As of June 10th, this Kickstarter project has raised around $24,500 of the $10,000 goal they need to be funded. And as you know in Kickstarter, a project is not funded until the fundraising goal is reached! This project only has 33 days left to raise as much as it can!  For a pledge of $5, you will get the PDF of the book plus your name listed in the book.  For a pledge of $25, you will get a hardcover copy of Good And Cheap, one book will be given to someone in need, and get your name listed in the book!  To learn more about Good And Cheap and to pledge money, go to:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/490865454/good-and-cheap

The Before Project

Do you remember your 11th birthday?  What about your 12th?  What were you doing? What was your favorite TV show?  Who was your best friend?  What was the saddest thing that had ever happened to you up to that point?  For Terence Brown, it’s all pretty hazy.  You know…they were the awkward years.  But now that he spends everyday with an 11 year old son, he is sometimes viscerally reminded of just how confusing and transitional this time actually was.  Tweens occupy a kind of weird but amazing phase in life; they’ve got one foot firmly rooted in childhood and one foot stepping into adolescence. There’s just a whole lot going on: questions about self-esteem and body image, mortality and sexuality start entering the picture but that kid/adolescent brain is not quite sure how to sort it all out.

He supposes this is why so many of us forget about these years–because we were still works in progress.  He is a filmmaker by profession and has volunteered some time over the years filming his son Jack’s classmates at his elementary school.  Last year he thought it might be interesting to film some very short interviews with a class of 4th graders just to see what they would say.  Here’s what they said: 4th Grade  Now that this group of 60+ kids is heading to middle school, he is planning to film more extensive interviews with each 5th grader this June. he is going to spend roughly 30 minutes with each student, asking them a wide range of questions.

The final project will be a documentary short called “Before.”  His goal is to explore and even celebrate this awkward and thankfully fleeting phase of life.  The final video will live on a site they are creating called thebeforeproject.org.  The plan is to create an interactive site where people from around the world can contribute content and stories about the tween years.  The “Before” documentary is meant to start of conversation more than make a statement. The kids he is filming are not an extremely diverse bunch and he realizes that whatever they create is only part of a much bigger story that extends across culture, race, income, time era, etc..  thebeforeproject.org will be a place to collect these stories and content so that experiences of tweens around the world can be heard.

As of June 10th, this Kickstarter project has raised around $10,180 of the $11,000 goal they need to be funded. And as you know in Kickstarter, a project is not funded until the fundraising goal is reached! This project only has 4 days left to reach the $11,000 goal. For a pledge of $1, you will get your name listed at the end of the film, and get a HD digital download.  For a pledge of $20, you will get everything listed above plus a DVD of the film!  To learn more about The Before Project and to pledge money, go to:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/299517091/the-before-project

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Arizona SB 1062 Bill Is Vetoed / Five Crazy Bills In The 2014 Alabama Legislature


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This week, Arizona has been a hotbed of controversial news.  SB 1062 would have allowed any business that asserted their religious beliefs the right to deny service to gay and lesbian customers.  The bill was so controversial, some Arizona legislators wanted to change their vote, after they voted YES.  Many businesses and people were calling for Governor Jan Brewer to VETO this bill, and they got their wish.  A few hours ago, the governor vetoed the bill, and unless there is a legislature override, the bill is dead.

And sadly, I thought this would happen if Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1062.  Some legislator down here in Alabama would have proposed something similar, and it would have passed with flying colors.  Now, that this bill is now dead, unless the Arizona Legislators are stupid, I believe the legislators here in Alabama will think twice before proposing something similar to the Arizona bill.  But sadly, there are other bills currently going through the Alabama Legislator that could cause Alabama some embarrassment.  Here are the five bills going through the Alabama Legislature that are a black eye for Alabama, and it will make the state a laughing stock once again.

School Prayer Bill

Rep. Steve Hurst, R-Munford, near where Geek Alabama is based, has proposed a bill that would allow teachers and/or principals to spend 15 minutes per school day to read opening prayers said before a meeting of the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate.  So far, this bill has passed a voice vote in the House Education Policy Committee, even though most members did not vote for it, how does that happen?  And did the Alabama Legislature forget about the separation of church and state?

The bill still has to pass both the House and Senate, and if it does pass and gets signed by the governor, Alabama is going to be using taxpayer funds to defend this law in court.  Because several organizations have already said they will sue the state if this bill becomes law.  The biggest problem I have with this, what if the prayer from Congress was a Muslim prayer,(it has happened before) would teachers in Alabama read it?  And would students have a option to stay out of the classroom during the prayer?  Yeah, I don’t see this bill passing.  And that 10 commandments bill will also be challenged in court and lose as well.

HB 31 – Health Care Rights of Conscience Act

This bill would allow health care providers to refuse, perform, or participate in any medical health care service that violates their moral, religious, or ethical principles, but only if the health care service involves women’s reproductive systems.  This almost sounds like that Arizona SB 1062 bill.  Bill sponsor Rep. Becky Nordgren, R-Gadsden, says the bill is meant to protect healthcare workers from being forced to do anything against their religious beliefs.  And no, this bill is not only about abortions.

Passage of this bill could result in hospital staff refusing to take part in ending a woman’s pregnancy during a miscarriage even if her health was at stake.  Anyone in the health care profession could also refuse to participate in abortion, sterilization, human cloning, and embryonic stem cell research.  Good job legislature, pass a bill that could harm the health of a woman because it might violate someone’s religious beliefs.  One has to ask this question, where is the outcry against this bill like that other bill in Arizona?  And yes, I know about the other abortion bills in Alabama, and they are wrong!

Common Core Bill

Most states and schools in America have adopted the Common Core standards that were developed by the National Governors’ Association.  But sadly, some conservatives out there believes these standards are leading towards a nationalization of public education. The real truth, business associations and state education groups have embraced the standards saying they will boost Alabama student performance.  These standards are not a Federal takeover of education, these standards are to make sure students are ready for the real world after they graduate from high school.

Several legislators including Sen. Scott Beason, are sponsoring a bill to repeal the standards, which is a boneheaded decision.  But some legislators like Sen. President Del Marsh, and Alabama Superintendent Tommy Bice, who I found out both read this blog, are working to make sure this bill does not see the light of day.  I agree with what the Alabama School Board has said, why are people going after legislators to repeal Common Core.  Why are these people instead going to school boards?  Repealing Common Core will allow Alabama to become a joke when it comes to education.

Welfare Bills

Five welfare bills are quickly passing through the Alabama Legislature.  One bill would require a drug test for anyone that has a drug conviction in the last five years and applying for TANF.  Another bill would require someone to apply for three jobs before applying for TANF.  Another bill would prohibit TANF funds from being used on alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets, and psychic hotlines or at strip clubs and tattoo parlors.  And another bill would prohibit fraud to receive public benefits.  Although I support the first four bills, there is one bill I have a problem with.

State Senator Bryan Taylor, R-Prattville, introduced a bill requiring welfare recipients to perform community service to receive their benefits.  Later, the bill was changed that would prohibit the state from seeking waivers of work requirements for able-bodied adults under the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, also called food stamps.  So for someone like me, who has applied to over 500 jobs, been to 14 job fairs, and no one will give me a chance.  I am screwed come October because I have to rely on Food Stamps to get by.  Wonderful, this will be another expense my relatives will have to pay now.  And I know I am not the only person in Alabama who will be affected by this.

General Fund Budget

Alabama does fund the Education Budget pretty well.  But when it comes to the General Fund budget, the legislators treat it very poorly.  The budget for this year is being boosted by $145 million borrowed from the Alabama Trust Fund.  And without extra funds, the budget for next year looks awful.  And that is not good for a state that is trying to attract new jobs and recruit new industries.  Without the proper support from state government, people will not think about moving to Alabama.

Let’s see, Alabama can’t fund their courts properly.  The prison system is severely overcrowded and there is abuse in the women’s prison.  And state employees are not being properly funded.  So Alabama is going to have no choice but to look for new sources of funding.  They are hoping Congress will allow Alabama to collect an internet sales tax.  But why is Alabama not considering allowing a state lottery and gambling?  Every state around Alabama either has a lottery or casinos.  Alabama could become a tourist destination if gambling was approved, and taxes would not have to go up!

To sum things up, things are going so well in Alabama politics, the Alabama Republican Party Candidate Committee has rejected several candidates for not being Republican enough.  That’s too funny!  At least House Bill 141, that would keep the low-cost spay and neuter clinics, is going through the legislature, and I hope it passes!

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Shape Up!: The Doctor and Dental Visits


Geek Alabama Shape Up!

Here is a special edition of Shape Up!  This post is going to talk about my last two doctor visits and the attempted dental visit that did not end well.

For the last two years, I have been on a slow attempt to get into better shape.  Yes, I have lost some weight and have eaten better.  But when you have been unemployed for 27 months now, there’s not much you can do.  Also, being on Food Stamps limits your food choices.  I only get around $200 a month for all of my groceries.  That means I only eat one meal a day with a snack around lunchtime.  I do get meats and fresh produce which costs a little more.  I know I could go the cheap processed food route but that would blow my weight up!

Since I have been unemployed for 27 months now, I went to the Quality of Life clinic in Anniston.  Their co-pays for people on Food Stamps, Medicaid, Disability, and other assistance are affordable!  I only paid $20 for each visit.  During my first visit, my blood pressure readings were taken, and they were way too high!  Then my weight was taken, and it was at 400 lbs.  That’s better than the nearly 500 lbs. I was at around two years ago.  Ms. Covington told me my blood pressure levels were too high, and she prescribed me Lisinopril, which treats the high blood pressure.  Then she ordered some lab work, it did not cost anything extra, I just hate needles!  Yes, in the past people have had to hold me down to get an injection.  I acted like a man this time and got my blood drawn.

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For my second visit, my lab results were revealed!  My thyroid and bad cholesterol levels was fine.  My good cholesterol levels were sightly lower.  I had a sightly higher red blood cell count and my white blood cell count was fine.  My blood sugar counts were normal.  And functions of the kidneys, livers, and heart were going normally.  My Triglycerides levels were also slightly elevated.  After a second visit to the doctor’s office, my blood pressure counts were down from the first time around, so the medication was working.  But the doctor also wanted me to take a low dose Aspirin daily.  I was also prescribed another medication called Carvedilol, which treats the high blood pressure.

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And to freak me out, Quality Of Life sent me a bill in the mail for $311.00.  I thought, this can’t be right, a general check-up and lab work can not cost that much.  I took the bill to the receptionist and they worked quickly to fix the error.  I owed nothing extra other than the $20 I paid for the visit.  I will be back for a 3 month check-up in December, unless I have moved away from the Anniston area.

Now for the dental, Quality of Life has a dental department and they do cleanings, cavity work, and extractions.  But sadly, they don’t work on crowns, caps, or root canals.  I will have to go to another dentist that will do that work.  The people working there told me I needed to get the cap issue fixed and then I could come back for a cleaning.  The cost for a cleaning will only be around $25 since I am on Food Stamps.  They did go ahead and take an advanced x-ray of my teeth.  That x-ray is good, you can see where I have had cavities filled and where I have had the root canal.

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So, for now my cap is still off of the tooth, but there is no pain.  I will need to find another dentist that will work with me on the cap, and it will cost some money.  The office has the x-ray copy and can easily send it over to the dentist office I go too.  And the good thing, I was not charged for the x-ray!  So there you go, there is an update on my overall health.  I hope I can resume my weekly posts about what I am doing to get in better shape as soon as someone hires me again and I have the income to eat better and do better exercising other than walking.