Cloth Diapering & Low Income Families

Awhile back, I read about the results of a Yale study that examined low income women and how poverty affected their mental health. One of the neat tidbits that came out was that about 30% of these mothers stated that they could not afford diapers for their babies and admitted reusing diapers.

We didn’t need a study to tell us this, or that low income mother are stressed out and prone to depression. Like, duh.

When the study came out, cloth diapering advocates and parents posted the article time and time again on social media with head shaking and finger wagging. “If only they used cloth diapers.”

I’m a huge fan of cloth diapering. I’ve wrapped all of my babies butts in cloth ,and although I really,really like The Earth, my main motivator was the cost effectiveness of cloth diapering and not the environmental benefits. I have been incredibly fortunate when it comes to acquiring cloth diapers. I got many for gifts. Several times I was able to claim a nice stash on Freecycle, brand new. The parents had decided not to cloth diaper after all and decided to pass them on to someone who could use them. Also, I can sew and make my own.

I love cloth diapers and think they’re awesomesauce. I encourage everyone to use them….when and if they can.

I was amazed at some of the really stupid commentary from the cloth diapering community when that study came out. Some people did not understand why low income women wouldn’t just do the “smart thing” and use cloth diapers. Of course, when people don’t understand the reasons why someone does or doesn’t do something, then you get the inevitable judgement and even outright shaming that “those people” don’t know better or do better.

Ugh,right?

I have known quite a few families who would like to cloth diaper but they don’t have access to a place they can buy cloth diapers. Not everyone has a bricks & mortar store near them that sells cloth diapers. Not everyone has a credit or debit card to purchase them online,either. Accessibility can be an issue for some people,depending where they live & their situation. Then the initial start-up cost of diapers. Wowza. We’re talking about $50 for 12 diapers + covers .

Even if you point out that many people do not have washing machines in their home (or maybe they live in a region that has severe water restrictions) or maybe they can barely afford to do laundry at the laundromat and that JUST one extra load makes it even harder, know what the reply was from some?

“That’s no excuse. There’s always handwashing”
(Actual comment. Sadly, echoed by others)

I’ve done that before and I have no reservations about saying it outright: Handwashing sucks. At the time, I worked at home. If I had worked outside the home, there’s no way I would have added that stress to my day. Poor women are stressed and depressed already. Handwashing shitty diapers isn’t going to improve anything. I wasn’t even stressed (or poor) at the time but it didn’t do wonders for my psyche.

To people who have a profound disconnect with poverty, when some poor person doesn’t do something they can do, it’s an excuse or a poor choice they’re making.  If a parent who is not poor makes the same parenting decision, it’s just a choice they made , not a poor one.

Feels like this is just another post from me, asking others to try to wrap their brain around an aspect of someone else’s life they never considered before and find some compassion, so I’ll wrap this up with some ideas on how to help and links.

How To Help Low Income Families Cloth Diaper

  • My old washing machine sat in my driveway for awhile before I could have it hauled away. A couple knocked on the door one day asking if they could have it. I told them the drum was cracked and leaked. They still wanted it. This couple collects broken appliances and fixes them specifically to donate to low income families. If you’re handy and have some spare time (and a truck would be helpful), this would be a nice project that could help people in your community.
  • If you have sewing skills, consider sewing up some cloth diapers to give to a family OR even better, teach others to make them and make it a group project. Youth groups could easily get involved.
  • Pick up used sewing machines and sewing supplies to donate to families who are interested in making their own.
  • If there’s a cloth diaper bank program in your area, maybe work together to fundraise laundry expenses for families without a washer at home.

These are places you can donate diapers, both cloth and disposable, for low income families.

 

The National Diaper Bank Network, a nonprofit that has donated more than 15 million diapers to free distributers across the nation, helps connect struggling families with local diaper banks.

Baby Buggy reports that it has helped provide 6 million items, including diapers and bottles, to struggling families.

 

 

ICYMI: The end of unemployment benefits, handling food waste,broke systems that create poverty (SSDD)….

Food & Recipes

Video Report: An Oasis in a Food Desert | BillMoyers.combillmoyers.com Take a look inside America’s first nonprofit grocery store, which is bringing fresh food to a struggling community in Pennsylvania.-The first non-profit grocery store opened a few months ago. It’s in Chester, PA… an area with 36% poverty rate and 13% unemployment and in a food desert.
Really interested to see how this does in the long term.

Don’t Waste Your Food- I know . No duh.  But ” Each American wastes $28 to $43 of food or about 20 pounds, per month. The average American family of four generates 36 pounds of wasted food each week. An estimated 50 million Americans don’t have enough to eat. One in six Americans go hungry. Twenty-five million people could get fed, if we reduced our waste by 15 percent.”
Article misses the crucial point that we need to change the system we have so that the food gets rerouted to people before it goes to the dumpster.

The Black Panther Party for Social Justice did some amazing things getting food to the people. Little known trivia : the school meal program that we know in American schools today was copied from The Black Panther Party. They started a free breakfast program for children in poor neighborhoods and fed 10,000 children every morning before school. The Panthers believed that “Children cannot reach their full academic potential if they have empty stomachs.” The Federal government instituted a program of their own when they saw the impact it was creating on neighborhoods. Some say the creation of the government program was due to politicians feeling shamed for not doing enough for families but more likely, the government was afraid of the power it gave the Black Panther Party.

Thrifty Living & DIY

The Most Wasteful Packaging For Food -Good to know, not just for the environmental reasons but if you have to pay for trash removal, the less you’re throwing away,the more money you aren’t spending.

Costs of a Backyard Flock – If you’re thinking of backyard chickens, some good basics. In addition to Craigslist, I’ve seen chickens offered quite often on Freecycle .There’s also a board at the local farm & garden supply store that is a great resource for getting chickens (and other poultry).

Articles & Thoughts

The end is here for long-term jobless benefits – 1.3 million unemployed will lose benefits this weekend. Anyone reading here affected by this?

Thousands of black and Latino kids lost their schools in 2013 -“Rivera and student advocates across the country describe the collective brunt of mass school closings and flawed education policy as an assault on some of the most vulnerable demographics of children in the country. School deserts cross paths where social needs tend to be greatest, where food deserts exists, where there tends to be high levels of unemployment, poverty and violence. What’s at stake in the much broader debate over school closures and urban education policy is a whole generation of minority students already struggling with great social and economic instability.”

This is one of my favorite video interviews about how to end hunger. Thoroughly thought out and practical. Joel Berg addresses the entire underlying causes of hunger and the entire system.

Activism & Awareness

Nashville remembers homeless residents who died in 2013 – “It’s important, because some of the names on the list are people who literally had nobody at all with them when they died, or who even knew they died.”
I recently watched Tent City, a documentary about Nashville’s homeless community, then stumbled on to this article the day after. Worth a watch.

5 critical issues affecting the world’s children -22,000 children die each day because of poverty-related causes. When I posted this on the Facebook page, it was just before Christmas and someone complained that I should save these types of articles until after the holidays. So, here it is, after those holidays and I’m sharing it again.

Boxed In: How a Criminal Record Keeps You Unemployed For Life - Finding myself pissed off about the prison system these days and how it creates poverty.

Hardworking yet still homeless in today’s America – About 3.5 million people experience some kind of homelessness every year, and about a quarter of them are employed at the time

Top 10 Books to Help Kids Understand -I feel like children’s books when done well on a topic can help children learn empathy for others as well as not feel so alone when they are going thru something similar in their life.
These are good recommendations for helping children understand (or not feel alone) about hunger.
Other suggestions in the comments there,too.

Low fat Tuna and potato fish cakes

Originally posted on Daily Dose of Fresh:

Tuna Fish Cakes

Boy, oh boy! These Tuna and potato fish cakes will blow your mind.

This is a family favourite that I often make for lunch. It is very low in fat and a very balanced lunch when served with a crisp lettuce and tomato salad on the side.

The one ingredient that gives these fish cakes their lovely sweet and aromatic taste is the fennel tips.

If you have never had fennel with fish then I suggest you put it on your bucket and grocery list!

Fresh Fennel could be hard to come by so don’t hesitate to use the dried fennel instead.  Try Cape Herb & Spice’s Dill Tips  they are freeze dried, the flavour is insanely intense and lift these simple ingredients to new a new level of great taste.

Use normal cake flour to dust the fish cakes but if you want to cut out the gluten in…

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TAKE ACTION on the “King Amendment” to the Farm Bill

Originally posted on WestDeltaGirl's Blog:

TAKE Action on the “King Amendment”

Contact your Senators and US Representative and tell them not to allow the “King Amendment” in the Farm Bill. This is  not only a food safety issue but also a state’s rights issue and animal welfare issue. Representative Steve King, (Iowa) has a long history of working to stifle animal protection laws, is trying to weaken state animal protection measures through an amendment to the 2013 Farm Bill

The so-called “King Amendment” (Sec. 11312 of H.R. 2642)  has already passed the House and is therefore under consideration as the conference committee seeks to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill. If the amendment is allowed to stand and is adopted into law, it will disrupt advancements that have been made in animal protection throughout the country.

Some of the State laws include those that stop shark finning, horse…

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ICYMI: Lots of low income & food stamp budget friendly recipe links

A round up of the stuff you may have missed this past week.

 

Food & Recipes

How to get kids to eat vegetables | No Ordinary Homestead -I used to be a pre-school teacher. One of the things I found thru my own experience teaching as well as raising my own children is that if kids participate in cooking & growing the food, they are much more likely to eat it.
And not surprisingly, tons of research confirms

Social Supermarkets -“In a nutshell, Social Supermarkets are markets that take surplus from other stores {items that are about to expire, are dented, mislabeled, etc.} and sell them at significant discounts to patrons who need some sort of economic assistance, instead of tossing them into the trash.”

Real Food Recipes to Replace Your Favorite Junk Foods – how to transform your fave “junky” recipes to real food ones. My tip: Don’t be intimidated by recipes that call for ingredients you’ve never heard or can’t find in your area. I’m an experienced cook and I had to google what an ingredient was yesterday lol
Totally use goggle when you are trying to find a substitute for an ingredient that is too expensive or hard to find.
(For example: Peanut butter or Sun Butter is a pretty decent sub for tahini)

25 Easy Crock Pot Dessert Recipes – Mmmmm, desserts.

100+ 30 Minute (or less) Meal Ideas for the Busy Cook | Love Bakes Good Cakes -Quick,easy…and a lot of them look pretty frugal,too.

Freezer Friendly | Well Rounded NY -budget friendly.

Frugality Gal: $1 Dinner: Super Cheap Meal to Make for a Lazy Night – It’s a group turkey-macaroni dish. Total cost $1.15 (her onions & peps were free,though)

90 Meals For $1.25 Per Serving (or Less!) – Daily Deals Blog – I was so confused because I scrolled down to the bottom and only saw 30. There’s 30 recipes for each meal.

1 Organic Chicken, 22 Healthy Meals, $49 Bucks  – There were skeptics when I posted this on my social media. I’ll have to experiment with it myself, maybe after the hollerdaze.

Secret Freegan scored all this food to donate to a teen shelter. Otherwise, it would be slated for trash.

 

 

Thrifty Living & DIY

A Thrifted and Thrifty Gifts Discussion: You Giving Thrifted Gifts? + Gift Wrap Ideas -I’m a big fan of thrifted giving. It’s about the only kind I do. Well, besides handmade.

5 Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season –           I like this list for several reasons. Mindful donations, caring for people and the planet, and practical things nearly everyone can do.
I was happy to see Treecycling. I collect them from the neighborhood & drag them into the woods. #goofypaganlady

 Literacy Launchpad: 20 Places to Find Free Children’s Books Online – A good resource for families w/ Internet connection at home but can’t make it to the library when they’re open to take out actual books.

25 Ways to Naturally Clean with Salt ~ * THE COUNTRY CHIC COTTAGE  – Non-toxic. Cheap. And you can use food stamps to buy it. It works,too. I had coffee stains on my counter and salt totally worked.

Articles & Thoughts

Iowa wants its poor to give up smoking and drinking to qualify for Medicaid – “A single person at 50 percent of the poverty line makes less than $500 per month. That’s obviously not someone who can afford even a nickel in extra expenses. But that was the income level in Iowa’s initial application, which means that for all practical purposes the original goal of this program was to (a) deny government benefits to poor people who are smokers, drinkers, drug users, or overweight, but (b) provide the benefits if these poor people agree to fairly intrusive government monitoring that ensures they improve these behaviors.”

Study: Over 21 Million U.S. Households Can’t Afford Their Rent - yeah.

 

Activism & Awareness

Campaign Aims to Get Cell Phones to Survivors: Donations Wanted – If you have an old cell phone laying around, consider donating it to this program. They help domestic violence victims have a lifeline to help when they need it.

 

Transgender workers are nearly four times more likely than the population as a whole to have a household income of less than $10,000. It’s absolutely important to address how poverty and trans issues intersect. Check out http://transequality.org/ for more info.

When Drones Guard the Pipeline – Militarizing Fossil Fuels in the East By Winona LaDuke with Frank Molley.http://bit.ly/16cjzqz

Staff from the Chicago Bulls are spending the afternoon volunteering at the Food Depository! Thank you! They’re also fighting hunger with the Social Donation Plate. Check it out at www.thedonationplate.org.

 

Please Excuse Davontaye, He Suffers From Povertenza

Originally posted on Our Legaci:

Povertenza

Dear Judge,

I know that Davontaye’s actions caused the deaths of four people. But please don’t give him life in prison. He suffers from Povertenza. You may not know about this condition but Povertenza is an illness that people from impoverished socio-economic backgrounds have.

Due to the inability to access quality education and employment, Davontaye’s development has been stifled. This leads to poor decision making and I would further argue that since his neighborhood sees so much death and destruction, that he may even suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in addition to Povertenza.

Judge, it is clear that Davontaye can not be held responsible for his actions. He needs rehabilitation, not prison. Prison would only worsen his mental condition. 

Sincerely,

J.A.M.

This defense obviously doesn’t work for black  and poor youth. Yet, news outlets are spiraling about 16 year-old  Ethan Couch who caused the deaths of 4 people by…

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Sharing is caring…so don’t donate to The Salvation Army.

Or single mothers who need help

I’ve been telling people for years, “Please don’t put money in those red Salvation Army kettles.” It had nothing to do with that hateful Salvation Army rep who proclaimed that gays deserve to die or any other LGBT issue but being a person that falls under the umbrella of the label, it  certainly doesn’t help my opinion of that church organization. Plus, LGBT people are more likely to be poor than heterosexual and cisgendered  people in America. Charities are supposed to want to help poor people.

I used to be quite involved volunteering  for a local domestic violence shelter. I would get a phone call about once a week from the shelter coordinator. She would give me a list of things they needed. ASAP. Women ,both with and without children, would come to the shelter with literally only the clothes on their backs. Maybe they had a small diaper bag ready to go with a change of clothes,some diapers, a bottle but usually they didn’t.

As women settled in to the shelter, they needed proper clothing for going to job interviews. The kids needed clothes to go to school.

When the women were ready to leave the shelter and move in to a place of their own, they had no real belongings to set up a household. Not just no furniture but pots,pans,dishes,utensils,towels,bedding…
The things you need to make a household function & take care of yourself & family.

The domestic violence agency depended on donations from the community since they had no real budget to help buy clothing ,let alone things needed to set up a household. The most helpful source of non-private individual donations was Catholic Charities. The worst by far was The Salvation Army.
If they did agree to give a family a voucher, they were allowed : one cup,one spoon,one fork,one plate per person. No beds or even just a mattress. Not even sheets,towels,blankets. They could choose some clothing but I don’t remember how much.  I’ve seen the large volume of donations made to the Salvation Army in my area. In fact, they send thousands of pounds of clothing to other countries.They could spare plenty for a family in need. They chose not to.

This wasn’t isolated to just the women trying to regain her life after domestic violence. I also mentored a lot of teen parents and the help they were given was the same. From what I saw personally, your house had to burn down to get any help from The Salvation Army. Or maybe your husband died just before Christmas. You could get some pity charity then.

They were also very clear that NO CASH GRANTS be given to families or individuals. The Salvation Army has a reputation of the place you go for thrifty shopping. The times I shopped there in the past, I did not find it affordable at all. I know that in part the high (to me) prices are because I live in a college town where an Ivy League University has residence and the SA prices things to take full advantage of wealthy student clientele base.  I don’t know where the Salvation Army profits go specifically but I know it’s not directly to families who need help. It seems that The Salvation Army tends to make themselves front and center when disaster and tragedy hit in a community or nationwide. Not so much for the other times.

Now ,that’s my perspective in my community. I have heard that there are good things being done elsewhere by The Salvation Army . That’s great,I guess.  That’s not what I saw here. I saw women (yes,they were always women. This does not mean there aren’t victims of domestic violence who aren’t women. That just happened to be what I saw) who were vulnerable and in need turned away when they easily could have been helped.

If you’re thinking of donating any spare change this Christmas time, think about your local food pantry. They are stretched thin nationwide. They will appreciate your donation and will gladly use it to help someone in need with no stipulations regarding sexual orientation or anything else.

All the things you might have missed- 12/2-12/8/2013

Ok, let’s try this. A link digest of all the Facebook posts  from the past week, all in one handy place. Facebook’s super annoying “algorithm”  keeps fewer people from seeing the Poor as Folk page posts.

Articles & Thoughts

Where Is the Love?- I don’t like Nicholas Kristof ‘s use of unfair stereotypes here to illustrate his point (I used to work with children with FAS…none of them born to teen moms. *I* was a teen mom and never drank. Likewise, I’ve also seen many cases of abuse in children and single mothers were not the primary perpetrators) but his point is that people need to be more compassionate and I can’t disagree with that.
The call for removal of children from homes hits a huge nerve with me (and I plan to write more about this some day soon). I’ve done the math on this. It would cost most states about 7 times more to make a child a ward of the state than to just provide assistance to that child’s family.People who say poor kids should be removed from homes are NOT concerned about the financial picture. They are just because classist and ignorant jerks.

A Mockery of Poverty: Rich Tourists Paying to Live Like the Poor in ‘Luxury Shanty Town’ -
Really and truly. Poverty tourism at it’s finest.

20 things the poor do every day – I missed the original piece this is a response to. I don’t think I’m missing anything.

NPR’s Robert Siegel Needs a Reality Check -“According to this year’s Out of Reach report, published by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, in no county in the entire country can someone who works full-time and earns $11 an hour afford a decent apartment. “
While Obama Talks Poverty, Stabenow Agrees to $8 Billion More in SNAP Cuts | The Nation – Yeah, I’ve mentioned this before somewhere…Debbie Stabenow is not an advocate for those facing food insecurity in America

http://ift.tt/1bS9VKE
From Working America on tumblr

10 Little Things We Can Do To Make Life Easier For Each Other -Help people. Don’t call people names on the Internet. Be nice to retail and food service workers.

And am I the only one who thought of Dr Who when I read #1? Where my Whovians at?

This is the source of my frustration on most days. We CAN do these things. Deconditioning isn’t happening fast enough.

Food 

Interview: On Growing Quinoa in America (and Your Backyard!?) with Ian Dixon-McDonald -This is good news for people who like quinoa but want to not make poor people in other countries go without THEIR staple crop because of American foodies want for it.

The Comfort of Cooking » Southwestern Stuffed Spaghetti Squash – one of my family’s favorite ways to eat sketti squash

Recipe: Super Simple & Totally Vegetarian Split Pea Soup -my own recipe that my kids love. It’s too bad split pea soup has to look so gross

Homemade Applesauce Recipe- How to Make it Frugally and Healthy | Penniless Parenting – it really is this easy. As discussed on the page, if you don’t have an electric mixer or blender, a potato masher works just fine.

Cooking With The Classics: To Kill A Mockingbird | The Feed – I’m a major bibliophile & To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my favorites (if my youngest kiddo had been a girl, Harper would have been the middle name after Harper Lee…and we have a cat naed Scout) ,so I loved this post. The recipe for Black-Eyed Peas and Greens is classic and frugal. And I would not judge none of ya’ll for making some of that Lane Cake.

Eat Well, Spend Less: How to Store Pantry Food for Maximum Shelf Life – good info, especially  for those who stock up when they get extra cash (like at income tax return time)

Crock Pot Lentil Soup - sweet potatoes were 39¢/lb the week of Thanksgiving ,so we bought a lot. This was a good use for them.

Non Organic Foods it’s safe to eat – organic foods are just not feasible to buy for some people. These are all “clean” foods that are affordable.

WhyHunger Google+ Hangout talking about #foodjustice and food marketing to kids.

DIY

22 Natural Sore Throat Remedies to Help Soothe the Pain – I’ve used these all at some point.

Detractors seem to think my main objective is to encourage people to “mooch off the government”. Totally off base. The goal is food sovereignty and creating a better system that supports accessibility to food for EVERYONE. The current system? It needs a kick in the teeth. Small scale farming,urban gardens,backyard homesteads,CSAs, community garden plots…. all of these are ways to help everyone have equal accessibility.

Thanks to Seismologik Intelligence for sharing this.

Eco-friendly and green gift wrapping ideas for this holiday season | The Art of Simple -And frugal.

Warm & Fuzzies

Photo: Pictured in the middle is young rap phenom Rich Homie Quan, serving food and helping those in need via the Food Bank For New York City. He's a really good dude and it was a pleasure meeting him. Give Back No Matter What!

Pictured in the middle is young rap phenom Rich Homie Quan, serving food and helping those in need via the Food Bank For New York City. He’s a really good dude and it was a pleasure meeting him. Give Back No Matter What!

Photo: Read/watch the story here: http://cbsn.ws/1hHyTUL

Not only did he give a homeless family a safe place to call home, he brought the family together.The shelter only allowed younger children. The single mom’s older son could not stay in the shelter with them. Now they are a whole family again.
Powerful.
Read/watch the story here: http://cbsn.ws/1hHyTUL

Motivation & Affirmations

(I need this reminder daily)

Remembering Chris Keith, aka “The Adventures of a Thrifty Mama”

chris

Chris just made this her Facebook header photo recently. I smiled every time I saw it . It should be said that Chris’ had a fabulous sense of humor.

I “met” Chris through my Facebook page for my personal blog crazy dumbsaint of the mind and I in turn become a fan of her blog Adventures of a Thrifty Mama in the City ‘Stead, and then later we got to know each other outside of blogging. For those  who don’t know how online friendships work, they might be confused when I call Chris my friend. Online friendships are funny things and sometimes it happens that the people you trust online with your experiences  and thoughts are these people you’ve never even had so much as a cup of coffee with.

Chris & I had a lot in common. We were both struggling to feed our families real food on a food stamp budget and defied being stereotyped as “welfare mom living off the system”. We both were striving  to create a sustainable  and secure food sovereignty for ourselves that didn’t require the safety net of the system, yet both strongly felt that the safety net needed to be there for people who need it to eat. Just a couple months ago, she  was interviewed on a local TV station to talk about the November food stamp cuts and what it could mean to low income families. We both had a history of domestic abuse &  trauma. Beyond that, we had very similar parenting philosophies and were proud Mamas to our larger-than-average family.

It hurts to write these things in the past tense, knowing that that tense does not apply to me as I’m still very much alive and still those things and she is not.On December 5th, Chris and her 14 year old son Isaac were shot and killed by her estranged husband, who was given his guns back by police only one day before.

I don’t want this to be Chris’ story. She was a survivor and now she isn’t. It’s murky territory to presume to speak for the dead but I think Chris would want it said that even though domestic violence can affect all different kinds of women (and men),  the fear of poverty is what prevents many mothers from leaving and if they do find the courage to leave, they do indeed find themselves subjected to poverty. Photo: Eaton Rapids High School Class of 1994 Lost a great friend, daughter and mother yesterday in an act of violence that I can't even fathom. Please keep Chris Keith's children and family in your thoughts and prayers in this very difficult time. If anyone you know is struggling with an unhealthy relationship and you can help please do not hesitate.There is a clear need to address the way families are affected by domestic violence and the part poverty can play on it.

I’ll put that discussion aside for now. When I talk about domestic violence issues in the future,I’ll be thinking of Chris. Right now, my thoughts are with her family & her three youngest children who are safe and being cared for by family. There is a memorial fund set up by Chris’ church. You can go here to make a contribution.

*UPDATED TO ADD*
The church and family request that no more toys,clothing and gifts be donated. Monetary donations to the memorial fund are the most needed as Chris’ mom will need to remodel her house a little for the children to live with her and of course, both short term & long term care of the children.