Thoughts| “Don’t feed homemade formula to babies; seek help instead”

Article:“Don’t feed homemade formula to babies; seek help instead”

Money is tight and you’re low on baby formula. Should you try that homemade formula recipe you saw online?
The answer is: No.

The advice is solid here, no questioning that. Homemade formula isn’t a great idea.
However, this article overestimates the help available for parents who may feel it’s necessary to water down formula or go to a homemade variety. If parents are going down that route, it’s most likely because the solutions in place haven’t worked out fully.

When I first read the article, I assumed the homemade baby formula in question was my Grandma’s recipe she handed to me when I became a first time mom almost thirty years ago. It has 3 ingredients: evaporated milk,water,karo syrup.

I looked at the most popular homemade recipes for formula out there and quickly learned that these are not my Grandma’s basic recipes and if those are the ones the author is referring to, I don’t think she has to worry about a parent without money making any of them. The ingredients are expensive (there are also “kits” that run about $180-$200…definitely not within low income budgets). I’m inclined to think those who are making these “natural” formulas are doing so not for penny pinching reasons. They’re probably just anti-formula but aren’t breastfeeding or want to supplement.

That out of the way, let’s focus on suggestions given to parents with the assumption they’re making formula to save money (or because they have no money).

The article suggests that if you can’t afford formula, apply for WIC, SNAP, and TANF.
WIC usually does provide enough formula for babies but some families may find times in their baby’s development where they’re going through more formula than WIC provides. Some states have also made cuts to WIC and may not be providing the same as they were.

While WIC income eligibility guidelines are usually higher than SNAP, recipients are still low income and are likely dealing with the multitude of issues that plague low income folks. Missing a WIC appointment can be disastrous. When we’re talking about a low income parent missing an appointment the reason isn’t easily explained away as “irresponsibility”. Can’t get off work, car broke down,can’t find a ride, no public transportation… not excuses, valid obstacles. In rural areas, rescheduling an appointment may not be a possibility at all. Your WIC clinic is one certain day per month in the basement of a church and if you miss that day, there’s nothing else you can do but wait until next month. Even a weather cancellation could totally screw up a family getting their WIC checks on time.

SNAP? Of course it helps but the average allotment of $3 per day per person isn’t going to get everyone in the family the food they need PLUS formula for a whole month. And TANF is notoriously hard to get approved for. Benefits are low and only temporary. You may even be asked to pay back the amount.

The article also recommends food pantries and yes, of course some will be able to help but small town and rural pantries won’t be able to fill that need always.

Where To Get Formula If WIC & SNAP Doesn’t Meet Your Baby’s Needs

Call Your Pediatrician

Your pediatrician has sample cans on hand that they can give to families in need and should supply you with what your baby needs to make it through to your next payday, WIC check pickup, or SNAP disbursement. They may also be able to refer you to additional community organizations who are specialized in helping low income families with things like formula and diapers.
You may also want to give your local health department a call. They are likely to know of other avenues available.

NOTE: I’m aware that some folks may feel afraid to ask their pediatrician for fear of having child protective services called. Yes, use your best judgement about this and only if you feel safe with your provider.

Check Out Your Local Gift Economy Scene

This one may be tricky. You have to find it first, if it even exists. The idea of a gift economy is simply that if you need something, you ask and if you have something to give, you offer it up. No cash exchanged.
Your gift economy may exist on something like Freecycle or even in the community section of craigslist but more often, you’ll see some thriving local groups on Facebook. They may not be labeled “gift economy”. They may be something like “Moms Helping Moms” or something just as simple as “Free Exchange”.
Local parenting groups with an online group are an important resource and I encourage people to join them, even though they certainly can be a minefield of drama at times if they’re not well moderated.

Pregnancy Centers,Community Centers,Churches

You can use to find a lot of these resources but from my own experience, the list they have may not be complete or it’s outdated. I find that Catholic Charities is usually very helpful (experience may vary on location) and the pregnancy centers that have no religious affiliation are usually the most comfortable to seek help at.
Even if a church doesn’t have a food pantry serving the community, they may still be able to help.

Also recognizing here that asking churches may not be for everyone.

#HandsOffSNAP actions needed

I apologize for infrequent updating here over the summer. My ongoing health problems, busy children, a death in the family, and then the demise of my laptop have been factors that have kept me from here the past couple of months. I wanted to drop in quickly to alert readers to some action and activism needed on the SNAP (Farm Bill) front. Because I’m short on time, I’m sharing here a good summary from wall-of-us:

Because of your calls and letters, it’s down to the wire on SNAP (food stamps). The House version, which passed by just 2 votes, would tighten eligibility requirements and according to a Congressional Budget Office estimate, lead to some 400,000 households losing eligibility and put kids in need at risk for receiving free and reduced-price school meals. Although it also includes money for education and training programs, the effectiveness of these programs need to be evaluated before they become a pre-condition to assistance. The Senate version, which passed by much bigger margin, is the better way to go. Reconciliation of the two bills is happening now and the House conferee’s have now been named.

Now is the time to make sure they know where you stand on SNAP.

Here’s how:

1 Review the Farm Bill Talking PointsFarm Bill Field Toolkit, & SNAP Fact Sheet

2 Use the toolkit to urge the House’s conferees to adopt the Senate SNAP provisions.

3 For more, read FRAC’s new report, “How Hungry is America?“, on how the national food hardship rate has increased in recent years.

As always, if you’re someone who hates making calls & deals with some anxiety over it, it’s helpful to write yourself a little script of what your going to say. This is a great tip sheet for phone calling with anxiety: How to Call Your Reps When You Have Social Anxieties

It looks like voting might matter

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I texted my adult offspring on Tuesday morning not to make sure they were eating a great breakfast or anything stereotypically motherly but to remind them to go vote in the primary. “Make sure you remind your housemates/boyfriend/girlfriend/co-workers/friends/baristas. Love you!”.

I think a lot of us, especially “millennials”, are disillusioned with Presidential elections, in part because of The Electoral College. It can feel like voting doesn’t matter in the presidential election. It seems like this also discourages some eligible voters to skip state and local elections. Or they just don’t think they’re important. I will always stress that these elections are even more important. These local & state elections decide the people we put in seats to fight for us, for your civil rights, for our infrastructure, our safety net programs, our schools, our environment.
They’ll be the ones who confirm Supreme Court appointees and keep the president from being authoritarian hopefully. Kind of important stuff right now.

When I ask people on social media to call their representatives about certain issues that are pressing, “What’s the point?” is a common response. I live in a district represented by Tom Reed, a Trump cohort. I get this frustration because I know firsthand how exhausting and defeated it feels to repeatedly “express my concerns” to my congressman knowing fully well he’s going to do whatever serves his own and the President’s best interests and not his constituent’s.  And that’s exactly why primaries and mid-terms matter. We need to get the best candidates on the ballot to unseat these (mostly) dudes seeking to put this country back a century and impede social & economic progress for all.

I know anarchists who voted in the primaries so that should tell you how bad it is.

This was the result for my district as of Tuesday night when I went to bed. 26 votes separate Della Pia & Mitrano. This will come down to absentee ballots being counted.  Every vote actually matters. Less than 20% of registered Dems in this district showed up though. We all really need to motivate eligible voters to get to the polls this fall.


The House Farm Bill passed. Now let’s look at the Senate bill.

The 2018 Farm Bill passes the House last Thursday by a very narrow margin. 213 yeas to 211 nays. If you’re interested in seeing if your rep was on the yea or nay side of this, go here: Final Vote on HR2, June 21,2018

This bill cut $19 billion from SNAP which equates to serving around 2 million low income, food insecure people. It imposes stricter work requirements that can’t be opted out by states.  Instead of giving working families a little relief when they finally get their heads above water, it imposes a strict benefits cliff that cuts off benefits to those who’s income rises even slightly above the income eligibility limit. People formerly incarcerated for certain crimes are banned for life from receiving SNAP.  It also adds a ton of paperwork and reporting that will not only be expensive for states to implement but just complicates the application process. There are already under served low income folks not applying for SNAP because of the process and a lot of caseworkers are less able to act like social workers because of the amount of clerical business involved.

The Senate has introduced it’s own version of the Farm Bill  that avoids all the mean stuff and instead expands the programs they know help and introducing pilot programs to improve healthy food access. It makes things easier for disabled and elderly people allowing them to certify for 3 year periods and tweaks the EBT system so it’s more reliable.

In short, this is a bill that recognizes that SNAP works and strengthens it instead of hurting low income families. This bill will probably be voted on this week so call your Senators and tell them to vote YES on the Farm Bill.  There is a form letter here you can submit or call direct using 888-398-8702 or their office number.

As always, if you’re someone who hates making calls & deals with some anxiety over it, it’s helpful to write yourself a little script of what your going to say. This is a great tip sheet for phone calling with anxiety: How to Call Your Reps When You Have Social Anxieties

[today’s post brought to you by my delicious dinner of chicken stir fry that SNAP helped to purchase the ingredients for]



The House votes Friday on the current Farm Bill. This version cut or reduce food assistance for an estimated 2 million recipients. This bill imposes stricter work requirements and will highly impact single parents, older folks, and people with disabilities.
Take a few minutes to call your congressperson and ask them to vote NO on HR2 and cuts to SNAP. The Capital switchboard is 202-224-3121 or you can call your reps local office.

I’m including some helpful articles here if you need to familiarize yourself with the issues and talking points. As always, if you’re someone who hates making calls & deals with some anxiety over it, it’s helpful to write yourself a little script of what your going to say. This is a great tip sheet for phone calling with anxiety: How to Call Your Reps When You Have Social Anxieties

What the hell is the Farm Bill anyway?

For Farmers on SNAP, the Farm Bill Will Hurt in More Ways Than One

Congress should leave the food stamps program alone

“It’s weird growing food and being hungry at the same time”

2018 Farm Bill imposes a lifetime ban from SNAP for people convicted of certain offenses w/ no option for states to opt out

Farm Bill seeks to restrict food stamp benefits while allowing subsidies for billionaires


UPDATE: This bill passed. To learn about the Senate bill, go here

Sick,bullying, and weekend links

I’m in the middle of that fun cycle where one kid brings home a vile sickness and then another kid brings home another thing two days later. One kid gets over a vile thing only to get the other vile thing and the second kid gets the other vile thing he didn’t have already and then everyone else in the house get both vile things simultaneously and everyone recovers in time to get new vile things.

I think we’re finally seeing our way out of all of this. Let’s hope.

We also had a scary and traumatic event in our family a few weeks ago that has taken a lot out of us. My 13 year old was attacked by another boy in the locker room after gym class. He had a huge contusion on his head, a concussion, a badly bruised but not broken nose with accompanying black eyes, and numerous bruises and sore body parts. He’s healed physically now but he’s still feeling vulnerable, understandably so. At least he isn’t feeling that it’s unsafe to go to school. The days afterward were hard but that anxiety has faded.
The school has dealt with this remarkably and satisfactorily, although this bully has been an issue for my son and others for years. There were also blindspots in supervision. It was noted that this bully in particular looks for opportunities that are unsupervised. Plans were put in place to account for that.
The school really does have excellent anti-bullying strategies in place.  It’s a despairing and sickening feeling to know that sometimes all the right things aren’t going to reach every kid, especially if that bully’s home life countermands everything positive given to them elsewhere.

One thing that left me feeling shook was that other students watched this attack happen and did nothing. I’m not saying one of them should have physically jumped in and helped my son but at least go get a teacher. If you have kiddos, please talk to them about  being active bystanders. This is also something to touch base with your school about. Kids and teens may be inactive bystanders because they’re afraid of retaliation from the bully. Find out what the school does to protect those who intervene after the incident. They should never be afraid of doing the right thing.

And with that, I will leave you with some links. Sorry these aren’t more uplifting than talk of bullying and illnesses.


◊ Paul Ryan fired the House Chaplain for no real good reason except that maybe he was standing up for the poor too much for Paul’s liking

◊ Poor people didn’t vote for Trump. Racist xenophobic nationalists did. (Ok, the article refers to them as people having “status anxiety” but it’s pretty clear that the anxiety they felt was induced by their own prejudices)

◊ Sen Kirsten Gillibrand introduced legislation that would provide a public option for banking and low cost loans available through the post office.

Under Gillibrand’s proposal, Americans could cash paychecks and deposit money in accounts free of charge at each post office location. Deposits would be capped at the larger of two amounts ― $20,000, or the median balance in all American bank accounts.

The postal banks would be able to distribute loans to borrowers of up to $1,000 at an interest rate slightly higher than the yield on one-month Treasury bonds, currently about 2 percent.

A postal banking system would be an alternative to the for-profit payday lending system, in which people routinely pay triple-digit fees to borrow money for bills that come due before their next paycheck. The average payday loan of $375 typically costs a borrower an additional $520 in interest and fees, according to Pew Charitable Trusts.

These costs are disproportionately shouldered by the most vulnerable people in the economy: Lower-earning workers who can’t afford fees that commercial banks levy if an account balance falls too low, or simply live in an area that lacks a traditional banking option. The lack of resources typically precludes these Americans from qualifying for a credit card with a reasonable interest rate.

◊ The east side of Washington, DC now has a “maternity care desert” that will hurt low income women the most

◊ I’m so angry that  pregnant women are still uninsured .

◊ Also: Abortion is part of women’s health care and restricting access to abortion is class warfare

◊I think I was a bit out of it and not online for the few days everyone on Twitter yelled at Moby for giving opinions about what people on SNAP should eat. I miss all the fun stuff. I’m glad Twitter filled in for me. It was a predictably myopic and privileged take.

◊ The latest episodes on Earth Eats podcast are about SNAP & the Farm Bill.  I haven’t listened to the latest one but the previous one discussed the beginnings of SNAP. Not surprisingly (to me) , the stigmas surrounding the recipients were there right from the very beginning.

Baltimore is thinking about selling homes for $1 to help revive neighborhoods. The issue is how to help lower income people who would benefit most to do the renovations on the homes. There’s an estimated 16,000 and 46,000 empty homes in Baltimore. That’s a lot of work to be done.

◊ Rochester’s one prestigious Hotel Cadillac has been used in recent years as an emergency homeless shelter but now a development company has bought it, displacing it’s residents.

The eviction rate in Richmond is 11 per 100 renters.
Poor people who can’t pay rent are charged money they don’t have in court fees and the eviction goes on their credit report. It’s expensive to be poor.

Annnnnd of course….

Ben Carson wants to raise the minimum public housing rent from $50 to $150.  That’s tripling the rent for the poorest people in public housing. Carson’s favorite myth is that if you make poor people struggle, it builds character and helps them succeed. Worst person to be the head of HUD ever.
Yes, I will of course mention the $31,000 dining room table.
If the department and the Carson family sees that as a justifiable expense, I’d like to show them how to shop on a budget. I just got a decent table and seating on for a reasonable price. They have coupons and free shopping all the time,too.

Today’s post is brought to you by the warmest socks on earth (alpaca), baklava for breakfast, and my excitement for new upcoming creative projects

I’m beginning January 2018 with $7 in the bank account, $20 cash, and a $25 Visa gift card. We just paid November rent, making us two months behind on rent now BUT we aren’t behind on anything else at the moment. There’s no urgent needs right now that would require money, except perhaps additional firewood. The deep cold continues and we’re going through wood rapidly but I have a good source for wood if I need more right away.

Our SNAP balance is $0 until the 9th (then it will be $210) but we’re good on food. Much of that is thanks to kindness of others.  We also could not get through without the biweekly food pantry.

In December I was in a cooking rut and we were eating terribly. Lots of Brown Food (chicken nuggets,tater tots,etc). Depression was a big factor but I was also feeling tired of making the same meals over and over again because I just didn’t have a lot to work with and just could not summon the mental ambition to be creative with what I was working with. I was really hating cooking for awhile there.
Once older kids started coming home from college, the extra help around the house  relieved a lot of stress on me and I started making decent meals again. Mostly a lot of my kids fave comfort foods they missed while away at college. Pierogies with spinach and onions, egg rolls, mac and cheese, chili… that stuff I make with cabbage and lentils. They CAN cook for themselves but you know…Mom does it better, I guess.

The food pantry gave out turkeys for Christmas dinners and we were given a lovely holiday food box from Vineyard Church with a ham, potatoes,corn,butter,milk, and treats. We had the ham for New Year’s. The butter was super helpful because my oldest spawn appointed himself as stuffing maker a couple of years ago. He follows Matty Matheson’s recipe. The 1st time he made it, I jokingly asked , “What the hell? Did you use an entire pound of butter or what?” HE DID. He uses less butter since then but lordy…we seem to go through a lot of butter in this house, especially with the big eatin’ days.

The pre-Christmas food pantry was wild. There was a Santa there for some reason. No kids there so adults sat on his lap and Santa was rather saucy. He also sang a song about eating roadkill, which I tried to get on video but all you can hear is an older man standing next to me telling my husband about how he’s afraid old and disabled people are going to be sent to the gas chambers. But you can’t even hear him well enough for me to post that. It was certainly the part that was most worth listening to.
“They keep closing all our programs! They just want to get rid of us”. Later he told me this story about being given an F in school by a teacher who was mad that he talked about gas chambers during the Holocaust. She told the class that didn’t happen. His father put his military uniform on , went down to the school, and told the teacher and the whole class a very non-watered down version of everything he saw as a soldier in WW2.  I’m always amazed when I hear other’s experiences in school being taught about the Holocaust.  When I was in school, it was no holds barred. Graphic, concise, full depiction. Nothing censored. My kids,too. We all feel like we could go our whole life without seeing another documentary about it because what we learned was so thorough and it was intense. A lot at once, which may have been the intended effect because the saturation made a lifelong lasting impression. My husband finds that in his adult life, he’s learned a lot more about it than he did in school but he was still given the important basics.
This past summer when Nazis were marching with tiki torches, I was shocked at the people who were so ignorant about what Nazis did. Jewish people were sharing  stories of what their families went through and the reactions from people was mind boggling. “I can’t believe any of that happened.I never heard about any of this is school.”…from educated adults. It dawned on me that this has to be why more people aren’t seriously alarmed by the rise of  fascism,neo-Nazism and hate groups here. They wrongly think if you laugh at them or ignore them, it will end them.  Mind blown. If not everyone knows the full extent of what that brand of hate leads to, they can’t be alarmed by it and if they aren’t alarmed, they aren’t going to have the inclination to even try to fight it. I’m deeply troubled by this. It’s the same mindset that leads people to believe the government will never take away rights or food/assistance to poor families or medicare from old people. They think anti-poverty activists are overreacting about the future for poor and marginalized  people. I would much rather overreact than be complacent and just let things happen.

I don’t even want to get into people pearl-clutching over whether it’s ok to punch Nazis. I’m not much of a resolution maker but punching Nazis in 2018 sounds like a good one.

october 3rd, 2017

Some things to wade through today

mental wellness: “Don’t not set yourself on fire to keep others warm”– a thread on balancing social responsibility and exhaustion

podcast: Radiolab’s More Perfect- “Who’s Gerry and Why Is He So Bad At Drawing Maps?”

The Supreme Court is about to hear a case on how legislative districts are drawn to favor one political party over another.Good episode that breaks it all down, including the mathy stuff like The Efficiency Gap equation.

community building: “When you get a front door, remember to leave it open” – urban grassroots orgs for low income people to support each other around food, markets, and other events.

environmental justice: Underwater and Rising-The Housing Situation in Florida is About To Get Much Worse – there are so many layers to this. It’s a mess and it impacts poor and non-white communities more than anyone else

Jobs & Welfare: Elizabeth Warren Introduced A Bill To Ban “Right to Work” Laws – Good for her. I was a single,teen mom between jobs when The Clintons (yes, both of them) introduced right to work laws. That one “welfare reform” alone hurt so many people and continues to do so. It also impacts bigger things like unfair, low wages and crappy labor laws that hurt workers.

Racism Gap: The American Economy Isn’t Getting Any Less Racist – anti-Black hiring prejudices are just as prevalent as they were 30 years ago, deepening income inequality for Black people.

Activism: Host Teach-Ins About Bail and Pre-Trial Detentions – a guide with resources to help organize a teach-in event

Thoughts: An Open Letter To Privileged People Who Play Devil’s Advocate – I always say, “May I play Devil’s Advocate?” is the cousin of “I’m not racist BUT…”
Just don’t do it.

Perfect World:
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Art by the brilliant Ben Montero who always makes me have feelings


current anthem:

Was reading these links kind of a bummer? I do these nearly-daily link roundups at my other blog,too, and those are a lot happier and prettier.

Other places to find me:

If you like the work I do here at Poor as Folk, please considering being a supporter through Patreon. Your support will help keep the lights on and the content flowing, as well as help me develop printed publications such as cookbooks and zines designed to help low income folks. Even if you can only pledge $1 or $3 per month, that is SO appreciated! If even half the readers of this blog pledged that small amount, it would be significant enough to bring change and growth in my own life.

september 18th,2017 things

(Image credit: Miami2you/Shutterstock )

helping others: How To Help Hurricane Irma Victims Regain Food Security  – orgs to donate to that are helping feed people (similar link at the bottom of that page to article on helping Hurricane Harvey folks). The good news is that both Texas and Florida have put emergency protocols in place for SNAP users so that they can use their EBT for prepared hot food. They can also apply to get additional funds to replace food in their homes that was lost to power outage & destruction.

political involvement: Why I’m Going To Run For Office –“I’m done putting my faith in well-meaning surrogates. That’s not enough now, and it never really was.”
Right on. We really need more diverse candidates representing marginalized citizens.

podcast: Earhustle – created and produced by inmates at San Quentin, this podcast tells real stories about life in prison. Start from the beginning.

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The most ridiculous thing about this is that even if the pampering is free or super low cost, I will still get criticism. For example, posting a picture of my current read (from the library most likely) with a nice cup of cocoa almost always means I’ll see some sort of commentary about how I shouldn’t be so lazy or irresponsible with money. It isn’t just about the money aspect, it’s also about what’s seen as leisure and “mismanagement of time” that could presumably be spent working or maybe just  huddled in a corner wearing rags by a fireplace with nothing but ask while I cry myself to sleep.

Self care: Do it. Poor people need it more than anyone else.

Was reading these links kind of a bummer? I do these nearly-daily link roundups at my other blog,too, and those are a lot happier and prettier.

Other places to find me:

If you like the work I do here at Poor as Folk, please considering being a supporter through Patreon. Your support will help keep the lights on and the content flowing, as well as help me develop printed publications such as cookbooks and zines designed to help low income folks. Even if you can only pledge $1 or $3 per month, that is SO appreciated! If even half the readers of this blog pledged that small amount, it would be significant enough to bring change and growth in my own life.