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 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.

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Life |No Money November

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I was thinking the other day about how November is the worst but I realized I say that about most months. Not usually summer months. The bad months tend to end in “brrr” or have the weather that is brrr.

Winter is informally here. Weather doesn’t care about calendar dates. I cringe when I hear the furnace kick on, hoping there’s enough in the fuel tank to keep us warm until HEAP helps out. I might have to have fuel delivered before we get HEAP. It’s a minimum delivery of 150 gallons=to around $575 so I’m trying toIMG_0328 (2) hold off. The heat is turned to minimum comfort & I’ve turned the trailer into a winterized cocoon. I could have paid for fuel if I had a dollar for everytime I said to someone, “Put a sweater on! Where are your slippers?”.

I really hate being cold so trust me,kiddos, this isn’t because I like it. And remember that last place we lived that was probably a Truman Show like social experiment to see if a modern day family could live in 1820? This is loads better.

Hand-me-downs have made it so that the only winter clothing I’ll have to get is boots for the smallest one. He has little Timberlands ($3 at a yard sale!) but he really should have regular winter boots.I tried to take advantage of a BOGO sale at Payless Shoes this past weekend and they had no boots. The salesperson said, “Well, we might get some in the next few weeks.” Might? You’re a shoe store in the frozen tundra of upstate NY. You should start putting boots in stock in September,silly.

Fortunately-unfortunately, my husbeast has been getting a lot of overtime hours so we should at least have funds to go buy non-BOGO deal boots this week.

I say unfortunately because he’s stressed, sore, and tired. Also, we did reapply for SNAP and got approved but it’s only $59 for the month because they were looking at the OT. I made zero dollars the last few months while recovering from my health nonsense, otherwise I’m sure we’d have been denied. In January, husbeast gets a 50¢/hour raise. I’m guessing for sure we won’t qualify anymore. Although maybe without the overtime,we might? I guess we’ll see. I hate the uncertainty of the safety net.

This area – the space where teetering income that keeps us from qualifying for assistance and from actually being enough to make all the ends meet – this is the scariest place to be. We’ve been here before. We’ve risen just above it at times only to fall below it again and again. This is where the most instability always is. It’s scary as fuck.

 

[this post brought to you by my new-to-us free refrigerator and a five day visit from my NYC-living daughter]

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]

#HandsOffSnap

 


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

Food News: Using post offices as food sharing stations, the 2018 Farm Bill,ending food deserts in Minnesota

This post covers food news that pertains to food insecurity and SNAP.


First Class , a project proposal by Washington University students that won the  Urban SOS: Fair Share Student Competition, suggest utilizing postal workers and post offices to alleviate food insecurity. Postal workers could pick up food donations on their route and deliver them to the food bank or bring them back to the post office, which would also serve as a food sharing station. Going to the post office would also mean you’re walking into a permanent food bank. This proposal was focused on L.A. county so it doesn’t address accessibility issues for rural folks,obviously but in theory, this is such a great idea.

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Sonny Perdue, Trump’s pick for Secretary of Ag, hasn’t had a confirmation hearing yet but his staffers already have concerns about the lack of basic contact from The White House , as well as support through the hearings.   Perdue is likely to be confirmed without much of a challenge …if he doesn’t feel the need to withdraw his name first.

Meanwhile, the Farm Bill is up for renewal next year and understandably, there’s quite a bit of anxiety about what that’s going to look like. Food and ag policy people have already been discussing what the new Farm Bill might look like.
Civil Eats covered a discussion hosted by AGree and this is what was said about SNAP:

Another key topic of conversation was the future of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or the food stamp program. SNAP and other nutrition programs are funded through the Farm Bill, and account for about 75 percent of the Bill’s spending (in 2016, nutrition programs accounted for around 89 billion of mandatory federal spending).

Republican legislators have in the past proposed removing SNAP from the Farm Bill and converting it to a block grant, which would allocate its administration to the states. Anti-hunger advocates have argued that block-granting the program would result in cuts, as the program would have less ability to respond to emergency situations.

Several participants at the AGree event seemed confident that the SNAP program wouldn’t experience major cuts, let alone block-granting. “Anyone who thinks we’re going to get a Farm Bill by separating [commodity and nutrition programs] is full of baloney,” said Yoder, an Ohio farmer. “It’s not going to happen.”

Jerry Hagstrom, a veteran agriculture journalist, echoed this sentiment. He said that from what he’s seen, there is “complete unity” among agriculture and trade groups that nutrition and commodity programs should remain together in the 2018 Farm Bill.

But Eric Mitchell, from the anti-hunger advocacy organization Bread for the World, was more skeptical. He encouraged the audience to consider political forces beyond the food and agriculture industry. He expressed concern that the Republican Congress might still pursue block-granting SNAP even against the wishes of agriculture groups. Several powerful Republicans have supported a move to block grants, including House Agriculture Committee chair Mike Conaway and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

The last Farm Bill process was paralyzed for over a year by political debates surrounding possible cuts to SNAP. Those debates were in large part responsible for the delayed passage of the Bill, which was two years overdue when it was eventually signed in early 2014.

I’m with Eric Mitchell on this. Not to sound dramatic but Paul Ryan is a formidable enemy of poor people and the programs that help them. I fully believe he & others will work hard to move SNAP to block grants and at this point, I can’t be sure he won’t succeed with that.

At this Food Tank  Summit event, Rep Chellie Pingree from Maine laid out what she thought the Farm Bill could look like.  About 2:30 in, Pingree starts discussing food insecurity and SNAP policies. Again, I think it’s highly optimistic to think this is an issue both parties will work together on. There are members of the GOP who can be presented with all the information that shows the different ways hunger in America looks like and disputing poverty as a moral failing and they still won’t try to do the right thing.


New bill aims at eliminating food deserts in Minnesota – the bill expands mobile pantries and asks for funding for more grocery stores and farmers markets ,too.


That’s all for now. I haven’t done one of these news wrap ups in awhile and I definitely missed a lot. I’ll have to aim to let less time pass between these types of posts.

Today’s song of the day… “Do You Still Love Me?” by Ryan Adams, for no other reason than this new album is being played heavily in my house this week.

SNAP News: Beginning Summer 2017, you can use food stamps to buy groceries online (in 7 states,anyway)

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The USDA is launching a pilot program this summer to test out the feasibility of allowing online grocers to accept SNAP. The intention is to help serve the needs of low income people in areas deemed food deserts, both rural and urban, as well as those who  have transportation and mobility barriers.

This may prove to be a crucial service for some people affected by the new USDA requirements that convenience stores and other vendors offer a wider variety of foods in order to qualify to accept food stamps and have been left with a larger gap in their accessibility to grocery stores. So far the program will be limited to just seven states to begin with – New York, Maryland, New Jersey,  Pennsylvania, Washington, Iowa, and Oregon, and only a few vendors have been selected. Amazon, FreshDirect, Safeway, ShopRite, Hy-Vee, Inc.,Hart’s Local Grocers , and Dash’s Market, the grocer behind the Rosie app.

This new pilot program could be a huge step forward to bridging that “healthy food” accessibility gap for low income people. The push for this began last summer with Thrive Markets (not chosen vendor) and Russel Simmons being among the biggest advocates.

Also in (trivial) SNAP news, a Republican guy who wants to be a politician in Oregon was on food stamps after his first Senate run, after spending $15,000 of his own money. Mike Callahan was unemployed and had joint custody of his two daughters. He qualified for food stamps and received them.
Ok?
He wasn’t earning enough money. He and his kids had to eat. That’s what the program is for. The gross thing here is that he fully admits that yep, he got food stamps but “it was a meager amount in comparison to others”. He’s better than everyone else who ever needed help. And sure, he basically squandered $15,000 that he could have used to support his family but so? He was trying to make something of himself!
(you know, not like the struggling Americans who get assistance who are thousands of dollars in debt because they spent money they didn’t really have on their own education who are now working in low wage jobs instead of what they have a degree in)

I’m not mad about the food stamps. I’m mad at the hypocrisy. Don’t tell me you want to represent “The People” if you think there’s a distinction between certain kinds of people.


If you like the work I do here at Poor as Folk, please consider being a supporter at Patreon! You can pledge as little as $1 a month. Your support will keep content on the blog free and available to all on the internet, as well as help me develop printed publications.  Donate here:  Poor as Folk on Patreon or one time donation via Paypal to luckyfishhomestead@gmail.com

daily links: affordable veganism and other foodish things

The Economics of Veganism (+ Proof A Fine Vegan Meal Can Be Made Cheaply) – I promise even if you’re a skeptic of veganism ,you won’t hate this piece. Gena Hamshaw gives plenty of recognition to the high cost of produce and lack of accessibility for some while also showing some good idea of how it can be affordable. Gods love her for stating some of the flaws in SNAP challenges,too

In some of our leaner times, we’ve become what I termed “accidental vegans” and as a general rule we eat a lot of vegetarian meals because plant based proteins are so much more affordable. I feel like the disadvantage many might have making veganism work on a low budget is that time is a huge factor in preparation, and it does require a bit of food and cooking knowledge beyond the basic.


Fall Chili, Soups & Stew Recipes and Learn How to Make a Freezer to Slow Cooker Meal ~ Weekly Round-Up – 31 days of soups and stews. I say it all the time…soups and stews are some of the most inexpensive meals you can make and you can stretch a pot through the week . My other tips is to substitute beans if a recipe calls for meat you can’t afford.


21 Budget-Friendly Recipes Starring Rice — Recipes from The Kitchn – essential reading for me this week. Oh,boy.


33 Bowl Recipes to Keep Your Belly Full and Life Easy – I made one of these recently for myself to eat during the week for lunches. Really ideal if it’s just you or you and your partner and maybe one or 2 non-picky kids that can deal with their food not touching .


The Middle-Eastern Cookie That Caused a Panic in Pennsylvania– I’m glad the recipe is included in this article because I immediately knew I had to have some but didn’t want to create hysteria by having something written in Arabic hanging around my house.Heavens no..



SPICY RED CURRY CAULIFLOWER “WINGS”

I have an enormous bag of chickpea flour to use up, so I’ve been making things like this (basically pakora) . I might make this one this week but commit some pantry anarchy by using a buffalo wing sauce my local produce guy gave me as a free samples.

daily links::a food waste cookbook!, news on teen hunger, and more

2016-09-24

There’s a cookbook called Amazing Waste with recipes entirely devoted to cooking with scraps,leftovers,etc. I haven’t had a chance to look through the entire thing yet but this looks like the kind of cookbook I would write. Am writing. These kinds of recipes are great for food pantry users (at least my food pantry) where you might end up with produce that is not the prettiest or freshest.

The entire cookbook is available for free RIGHT HERE.

Thanks to my local food waste reduction -anti hunger group Friendship Donations Network for passing along that info.


·:   Five Questions with JoAnne Berkenkamp, Food Waste Expert and Advocate  – there’s a lot of food waste going on but it’s getting better thanks to mainstream recognition and initiatives to reduce waste


:· some new research reveals some sad information about teenagers living in homes with food insecurity  . Even if teenagers do have access to programs that give them food,they’re too worried about what their peers will think to use them openly but also they are underserved by programs like The Backpack Program, which focuses on elementary aged kids. This is something touched on before here when one of our readers was trying to develop a program for older kids.

As a result, in households where hunger was most acute, teens reported engaging in all kinds of risky behavior to obtain food, including: shoplifting food directly, selling drugs for cash and/or engaging in “transactional dating,” i.e., engaging in sexual relationships with older adults in exchange for food and money. In a few communities, some teens even viewed going to jail as a viable option to ensure regular meals. The report also revealed the degree to which hungry teens look out for each other and for their younger siblings, often forgoing meals or sharing their food with those also in need.

Here’s a summary of the full report: Impossible Choices

My teenager’s high school made school lunch available for free to ALL students, regardless of income. If high schools did that widely, this would eliminate so much of these issues. Her school also has Free Food Friday where food donations picked up from a local rescue agency is available in the school lobby for anyone to take home. My daughter very rarely gets anything because it’s completely gone by the time she has a chance to check it out. Even when she is there on time, it’s difficult to get anything. No one is shy about taking food home. Now I have to wonder why these students have no reluctance to take free food. The school is a small charter school that focuses on sustainability and social justice (nope, don’t go off on me about how awful charter schools are) . Is it just that the culture of the school is centered on taking care or others and being stewards of the earth? A lot for me to think about there. I asked my daughter what she thinks and she says it’s because the school works hard to be a safe space for everyone and “no one judges people for things like that”.


Meanwhile in my community, the school district just expanded their Fresh Snack Program to include another school so that it now serves 1,200 elementary students. The Youth Farm Project (which one of my older kids worked at and let em tell you…that’s an AMAZING program) and other local farms provide a weekly snack to be served with the intention of expanding food horizons and food accessibility. It’s awesome.

My 6 year old was very critical of the yellow watermelon mentioned in the article linked above. He spent his summer growing his own watermelon, so he’s an expert now.
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He’s a super proud watermelon farmer.  I think we actually have a couple left to harvest. I plan on making this watermelon pie. YESSSSSSSSS.

grocery shopping

 

 

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View from inside our no-longer-dead car, on the way to the grocery store

YES, we have our old wheels back. It was a simple fix (but may be temporary). The uhaul we rented ended up being $260-ish. It was less expensive than a car rental still and if we hadn’t rented it, the husbeast would have missed  days of work. So, it was more than we could afford but we couldn’t afford not to. I hate making stupid decisions like that.
Yep, rent is late.

Yesterday was our SNAP day,too. We spent $157 of our $221. Hopefully I can make a lot of it stretch. I predict lots of creative pantry anarchy happening this month.

After putting the store-groceries away, I pulled these out of the garden.img_0395 Grocery gardening is the best.

We’re still dealing with a drought here. The USDA declared our county a natural disaster due to crop loss on farms here. Needless to say, gardening was hard,too.I have a lot of tomatoes but they’ve taken forever to ripen. This is the 1st decent bunch. I’ve harvested 8 pumpkins already,though. Things are a little backwards out there in the garden.