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Food and Faith is a blog of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.

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March 22, 2013

You Have Been Denied

Dear Ms. Fields,

Your application for food stamps dated February 15, 2013 has been denied.

Love,

Indiana Family and Social Services Administration

I received this uplifting letter last week in regards to my food stamp application that I had been working on for over a month.  I found the results rather shocking especially as my roommate who is in the similar if not exact same situation was approved for the full amount every month.  Me?  I got nothing not even a dollar.  How could this have happened?

For starters, I opted into a phone interview rather than in person one on one which I thought (very wrongly so) would speed up the process.  This just made things more confusing as I had little or no room to explain my forms, papers, current situation, and various other contingent variables to food stamp approval.  

Secondly, it was a dehumanizing process much like a lot of processes today.  I was not a person in need of assistance I was a case number accompanied with a variety of so called self explanatory documents.  When I tried to further explain documents such as  why my first pay stub didn’t accurately depict my income no one seemed to want to hear it.  Even when I circled and highlighted my actual bi-weekly income no one took note of it BOTH times I tried.  Ultimately this led to the disapproval of food stamp benefits.  

I saved you the full length story of my month long trials and tribulations of trying to get food stamp assistance because well, I don’t have all day or perhaps all week to explain.  Other blunders included multiple phone calls, rude unapologetic staff, multiple trips to the family services offices, and showing up for a schedule appointment which I apparently didn’t have although a letter said otherwise.  

Going through this tedious very stressful process has opened my naive eyes to the system of government assistance.  While I will hopefully get food stamps after going through an appeal process, which could take another month, I still have food in the cabinet to feed me and money to buy it if I don’t.  For most going through this process that’s not the case.  They require almost immediate assistance in order to feed themselves and most often their entire family.  

While this process has been time consuming and highly stressful, I cannot fathom the weight of balancing a family, multiple jobs, and whatever else life decides to throw at you as well.   Aren’t government assistance programs meant to help reduce the daily stresses instead of creating more?  How can these individuals and families work through the system to get what they need without high stress and time away from work and family?  

Although I was upset with my rejection and denial of benefits there are people who are rejected and denied on a regular basis whether in society or through government assistance.  Instead of cursing the flawed system what can we do to make it better?  What conversations can we start having with friends and family?  What immediate actions can we take?  Food stamps or no food stamps I came through the process with a changed mind and perspective.  For that, I thank you Indiana Family Services!

P.S. Indiana Family and Social Services Administration doesn’t really sign their letters with love I just needed some comedic relief on the situation.

Categories: Advocacy, Families, Hunger, Poverty

Tags: families, food, food stamps, government assistance, stress


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