Thursday, October 3, 2013

Oh SNAP! Panera CEO gets schooled.

   I just read an article on FB about the CEO of Panera Bread, Ron Shaich,  living on food stamp money for a week. He gets it... He took the challenge and he gets what it is like to have to think about how much and what you are eating for breakfast so that you can eat and stay full throughout the day. But he just fed himself. Try feeding a family.

    I have been on food stamps for the past year and a half, until they cut me this past summer for an over site they made. I called them about it and I was told it was fine and it would go through no problem when I renewed. By the time I found out it hadn't it was too late to appeal. I have to wait till Christmas. And yes, that little bit of money a month did help greatly. I used it to buy fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy snacks. Good proteins and dairy. I don't allow soda in my house so juice and yes bottled water ( I know... why? But it was better than soda for the on the go active family we are) were bought with SNAP. I used my own money for the fillers and treats and on the times when extra money was tight I had the SNAP money to cover it all.  When pennies are being pinched you do tend to eat more carbs and less fresh things. I still try and keep to a healthy diet but the fresh stuff is so expensive. I do my best and my girls are never hungry or ever eat a poor diet but there has been a day or two where I don't eat dinner because what I made didn't make up into enough for the three of us.

     I am a single mom of two teens. When I got divorced I was doing okay and was able to afford my kids school lunches and we ate well. Hell, we traveled and had good birthdays and Christmas would be small but very nice. In the 5 years since my divorce I make almost $1 more an hour and work more hours a day but I see almost $200 less every cheque due to my insurance and such tripling in the past 3 years. When I was married I had no need for credit cards and everything was in my ex's name so I have no credit, so thus no credit cards. My ex has had to make changes in his job and I no longer get any help outside of child support for anything. We used to split a majority of things ( glasses, back to school, extra activities ) 50/50. I now cover everything myself. And my kids are no longer 8 and 9. They are 13 and 14 and MUCH more expensive.

     I live pay cheque to pay cheque and since my SNAP has been cut it is extremely hard. I work for the school system. A government job. They have altered the schedule this year and with the placement of furlough and vacation days ( non of which I get paid for ) I get MAYBE 2 full pay cheques in a row and then a partial. This next cheque, which I get bi-weekly, will be for 5 days. I am having to shuffle utilities around just to feed my kids and gas up my car. I can't even get a 2nd job because all places want part time employees who have flexible schedules. If I try and get a different job all together I lose my pension with the school. It is a vicious cycle....Oh and that new law that Georgia passed 2 years ago about non certified employees being able to file for unemployment during the summer. It's bull shit. I fought with them for 2 months. I jumped through all their hoops and the week I was supposed to finally get a cheque I received a letter saying I was denied.

    Even when times were good I am very smart with my money. I always shop at Goodwill for myself and I saved up and planned for 4 years to buy a new/used car. I have been cable free for over a year and while I do have internet, with High School and Middle school kids and the projects they get I feel it is needed. For a few years I paid a lot for car insurance but it has paid off in my most recent renewal. I now have no deductible if God forbid I get into a car accident. My only debt is my outrageous insurance deductible from a mammogram and biopsy I had  done in January. They will see that come tax time. The girls and I all have cell phones... at this point the only reason I keep them is because it is cheaper then having them shut off with all the penalties and such. Plus really, I prefer to be able to have contact with them when we are all here and there.

      And the whole insurance thing. Yeah, don't get me started. I am on anti anxiety/depression meds. I can't afford them since I am paying so much for insurance. And they are no longer covered under any of the $4 generics for what ever reason. I couldn't afford the $20 to stay sane. It was someones therapist that told me to talk to my  pharmacist, that there had to be a way. She ran it with out insurance and it was only $11.25. She had no clue! The software that pharmacies have just runs it and charges the co pay automatically unless you see if it is cheaper otherwise. Even so I can't always afford it. I have been off of it for two weeks and finally able to refill it tonight.

    This whole thing is an ongoing, never ending cycle. I can't not have insurance... I am too much of a klutz to take that chance. I need a colonoscopy but can't afford the deductible when I have the time to actually have it done. But it is so very expensive to keep it. I could look for a different job but I have a pension here that will be very fruitful one day. Plus if I stick it out and move up with my job I could be salary in the next year, if all goes as I plan. Right now it's just sticking it out. I would love to sit down with Ron Shaich and see what he comes up with for reinventing SNAP. How can we end all the circles that people keep running  in. How do we supply those in need with the tools to help them feed their families AND get out of the need for the assistance.

    And with all that said... I think  I am going to go to bed now. Like I planned on doing over an hour ago before I read an article that someone shared on FB. Night Folks!