After years being eligible, I finally sucked it up and applied for food stamps a couple of weeks ago. I think I've written a little about how I was basically homeless* a couple of years ago. I didn't qualify for cash aid because I was working, but I was only making minimum wage and couldn't afford a deposit & regular rent. I was eligible for food stamps, but I was also working at least 5 shifts a week at a mom & pop restaurant where they basically fed everyone who worked there two hearty free meals a day. So at that time, it kind of didn't make sense to apply. When I showed up on a day off to get my check, they would make me eat something, you know? Food was basically the only thing I WASN'T worried about.
Anyway, today my EBT card arrived and when I got home from the temp job I ran right out to the market and bought about $45 worth of staples. This was amazing. Even when I was working full time and making more money, I had to be very careful about what I spent on food. I was in counseling for depression/anxiety/PTSD, which was eating up hundreds of (admittedly well-spent) dollars a month.
So for the first time in a long time, tonight I was able to buy lots of protein without choosing between one and the other, worried that if I bought eggs AND lentils AND peanut butter tonight, I wouldn't be able to do laundry tomorrow. I was also kind of afraid about being on food stamps. I was worried that if I picked up something that wasn't eligible, an alarm would go off or an employee would scream at me. Or someone I knew from college would be right behind me in line, and loudly say, "BUT YOU GRADUATED!" or something. (This is deeply irrational; I went to school in a foreign country. I mean, there are alumni here, but not that many, especially if you're talking about my specific cohort.)
Anyway, if you're eligible you should probably just apply. Don't be afraid of it. When you have more protein, or just better food period, your brain works better. I am very hopeful that I won't need to do this for long, but putting it off for so long was probably just me shooting myself in the foot, over and over again, over nothing more than my stupid pride.
*in the sense of not having a permanent residence. I was able to couch surf a lot, and stay in weekly motels at other times. The weekly motels were super expensive compared to a roomie situation, and that made it impossible to save up a deposit for a long time. So it was a very defeating cycle to be caught up in.