I’m two days late paying rent but the landlord hasn’t even cashed my May rent check yet. At the end of April, they cashed both March & April. You know who can hang on to multiple rent checks for over a month? People who don’t need money. They’re adamant that rent be paid that 1st week …but then just hang on to the checks? And try to charge $5/day late fee. More money they don’t need and won’t put back into their rentals to fix basic shit and make it less of a dump.
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 211.org 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.
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]
If you’ve grabbed a name tag off an Angel Tree or similar program at the mall or your church and not sure where to go from there, these tips might help to choose the perfect gift.
Depending on the organization, you might only have a few key points to do your Angel Tree recipient’s shopping by. Usually, you’re only given the child’s gender,age, and clothing size. You’re not given any clue to the child’s personality – his or her likes,interests, or even actual needs. If you’ve ever had to buy a gift for a child you don’t know well, you know how tricky this can be. Here’s some suggestions on how to make your selections the most appropriate & meaningful.
1. Be Thoughtful, Not Dutiful
There are a lot of people who take an Angel Tree name because they get swept up in the emotion of imagining a poor child with nothing to open on Christmas morning. I wouldn’t mention this if I hadn’t seen it before. Some people buy gifts thinking that anything that child gets is better than nothing. This probably goes without saying but remember that the child receiving the gifts is a real small person with feelings and not an imaginary altruistic concept. It’s horrible to open gifts that are easily recognized as – well….crap. It isn’t that the people are ungrateful for the gesture. It’s just that they have actual feelings and getting crap makes people feel like crap, or even that they are crap.
Don’t let a sense of duty and guilt be your reason for taking that name in the first place. Be mindful of the child at the receiving end.
2. Think Practical
I know the guidelines usually say to buy a complete outfit and a toy but sometimes there are other things low income children really need. Maybe put together a stocking with stocking stuffers with kid-friendly soap,toiletries,socks, and little goodies. Think about things that food stamps can’t buy or things that food banks might have in short supply. School supplies would be great,too.
If you’re buying a toy, avoid battery operated things.
Clothing should be something that’s every day casual and appropriate to your region’s season.
Also, try to stay away from novelty characters for both toys or clothing (unless you’re lucky enough to know that the child has a favorite character.Then,obviously, go for it!) ,or sayings on clothing. This just isn’t about the child not being a fan of those things. Some characters or sayings might not reflect that family’s personal ethics or beliefs.
3. Think Outside The Gender Box
Try to avoid the premise that “dolls are for girls, trucks are for boys” but also don’t reverse it and get something for a girl that is stereotypical to a boy and vice versa . This is one reason personal details on those Angel Tree tags are especially helpful, even if it’s just knowing what the kid’s favorite color is.
Non-gender specific toy ideas: playdoh, legos or other building toys, games, non-messy arts and crafts supplies,puzzles, toy animals, science kits, puppets, and anything that inspires imaginative play.
4. Books Are Always A Good Idea!
You really can’t go wrong with books. Just be sure to choose books that are age appropriate and steer clear of books with religious themes or those books based on movies or cartoons.
Those are the basics. If your family has ever received gifts from an Angel Tree or similar program, please feel free to give your input and suggestions!