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.

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]

Q: Will people be able to buy beer and cigarettes with food stamps starting Jan 2015?

A : Nope.

It’s really that simple of an answer. Nah,nope,not happening.
It’s a rumor started among Conservative punditry.

That’s it. The end.

Now, I’ve also been asked to talk about this meme circulated by a few of the liberal Facebook pages:

This applies to cuts to the WIC program. It’s not related to food stamps at all. $93 million cut from WIC is a pretty big deal, especially since many low income families who JUST barely qualify for SNAP can still qualify for WIC. BUT $6.6 billion was added to the WIC budget specifically for white potatoes. So, there’s that.

Read more about what the spending bill entailed: What’s in the spending bill

Thoughts on “This is what happened when I drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps”

The article  “This is what happened when I drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps” was sent to me about a dozen times by mid-morning. I tweeted my thoughts about it and you can see them below in the Storify I made (which may look wonky since embed doesn’t work correctly in wordpress, so I had to convert to html and …yeah).

I don’t have much to add to the series of tweets. A lot of people really loved this piece and I respect that. I suspect it’s because people are liking a narrative that addresses going from stability to poverty in a short time since it’s becoming a common story.
As always, I just like to look at things through a more critical lens and offer perspective that may be outside of popular opinion.

Thoughts on WaPo “Drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps”//



Thoughts on WaPo “Drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps”

  1. OK, I read the Mercedes-Food Stamps thing.
    1st off: I agree that when you become poor, it’s illogical to sell things. #talkpoverty
  2. Selling things of value when you find yourself in poverty only reduces your access to opportunities & advantages. #talkpoverty
  3. I was bothered by the author’s wording sometimes. She seemed to see herself as above the “poverty stricken mothers” in their “grungy den”
  4. Referring to herself as the tall blonde girl on heels and it’s really a powerful statement against the way she describes the other WIC moms
  5. I had to stop going to WIC b/c I had to take 2 buses to get to the appointments & couldn’t afford bus fare.Reality for some
  6. Even if we had a car, I could never guarantee at times we’d have gas money or be able to pay insurance.Grateful for having public transport
  7. In the WaPo piece, author mentions the Mercedes was a 2nd car. The Honda wouldn’t start. So, that makes me feel a certain way…
  8. I mean…you have a paid off ,reliable Mercedes… that’s the car you should be driving. That’s reasonable.
  9. Someone also just asked me…”what did she mean ‘picking up food stamps'”?
    Good question because WIC isn’t food stamps
  10. It’s important for people sharing their stories of poverty,however brief, refer to gov’t programs & processes correctly in their writing.
  11. when you call WIC “food stamps” , it’s misleading as to how programs work. You can be eligible for WIC but not food stamps.
  12. @dumbsainted that confused me, too. You don’t pick up food stamps at a church.
  13. At no point in the WaPo piece does the author tell a story about using food stamps. She’s using WIC.
  14. I appreciate that she mentions that the application process for safety net programs is not easy because really…it isn’t a piece of cake.
  15. @dumbsainted did she learn the lesson that poverty has nothing to do with character flaws? that other poor ppl “failed” bc systemic problem?
  16. .@MommysaurusRAWR There’s no lessons except to reveal that she felt embarrassed & internalized msgs about how poor people should live
  17. @dumbsainted For me her piece smacked of respectability, that she only became poor through larger forces, as if others did not.
  18. @dumbsainted I liked the article because it showed another side. Her language/descriptions weren’t always the best. The emotion was there.
  19. Whenever someone writes about their poverty experience, their individual narrative isn’t going to be something everyone can identify with.
  20. Poverty can look different. It can last for years and years or be a brief experience. Some people have more advantages to escape,too.
  21. Someone who is white,cishet, educated, ablebodied…. it’s less likely that they stay in poverty for long periods of time.
  22. No, I was not saying that white people don’t live in poverty for long periods. I think I’m proof of that.
    (Hi, I’m White )


Ode to Quesadillas


I can pretty much put leftovers in a quesadilla and they’re going to be awesome.

We eat a lot of things in tortillas that are quesadilla-ish because 1) tortillas are cheap; 2. versatile; 3. free with WIC (not that we get WIC anymore but it was a perk.

And seriously…get creative. I wasn’t kidding about Leftover Quesadillas.

For anyone new to quesadilla making, here is a great tutorial on how to make them. How To Make Quesadillas

29 Life-Changing Quesadillas You Need To Know About.


via b00tiusmaximus

Lunchtime Links: Eat for 40 cents a day, use up those broccoli stems, and alternative recipes to boxed foods…

All the good foodie stuff around the web today…

The Prudent Homemaker has a decent  series on frugal cooking that covers all the areas. Not everyone can do all of these but if you’re able to put a few bits into practice, it can help.
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Introduction
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part One: Eat More Meatless Meals
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Two: Buy in Bulk
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Three: Make it From Scratch
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Four: Only Buy Food When It is at Its Lowest Price
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Five: Grow More in Your Garden
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Six: Glean
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Seven: Eat In Season Produce
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Eight: Eat More Soup
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Nine: The Price Per Pound, or in Other Words, Comparing 

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Use up those broccoli stems – can’t wait to try broccomole.

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Something asked frequently here is what to use all the tortillas you get with WIC (besides the obvious) . There’s some good inspiration here : 5 Ways to Make a Tortilla Into a Snack

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Corporations are working to convince us that cooking from scratch is hard. Not. So.

I know,I know… sometimes the box is cheaper.Sometimes the boxed stuff is all you can get.  You all know that I know this . So, no shame if you can’t get your hands on the ingredients but if you can and you have the time, here’s some great ways to get the boxed stuff off your menu. Make It At Home

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Stephen Colbert on the government “slimdown”

Some states are still funding their WIC programs and everyone will be seen during the government shut down as usual and checks will be issued normally. Other WIC programs are closed but WIC staff have made sure their answering service gives emergency numbers for women who may be out of formula or other food. Some staff are volunteering their time to help families who need assistance.

The very beginning of every month is very unstable for many low income  families . Things are due all at once, leaving no extra cash for groceries and many SNAP recipients don’t get benefits until the second week of the month. If someone was scheduled to get new WIC checks this week, there’s going to be a horrible gap for that family between now and when they will finally have access to WIC or their scheduled SNAP allowance.

I know. They didn’t think about that when they shut the government down, nor do some of them even care.

It has been mentioned that we should consider why there are so many “non-essential” employees that aren’t allowed to work during the shut-down. I think it’s more important to access and evaluate who and what are considered essential government workers and programs instead. I’m really sorry that there were veterans who wanted to go see some memorial this week and couldn’t because it was closed but babies drinking watered down formula ranks higher on my essential priorities list.

Review: Food Stamped

Originally posted January 7th, 2013 on crazy dumbsaint of the mind and edited for clarity & additional thoughts

Food Stamped documents Shira & Yoav Potash’s challenge to feed themselves on a food stamp budget. This has been on my To Watch list since it came out but my library just got a copy of it last week. I was the first one to check it out!   So, I watched the library’s virginal copy last night.Shira is a nutrition educator who teaches families how to eat well within a food stamp budget, as well as children. I used to do something similar in a program with Head Start families. It was that experience, as well as working with children in my own daycare ,that helped me to understand one of the key pieces to helping people eat well when they’re living on limited resources. It all has to do with education. I encountered a lot of families who had never made anything that didn’t come in a box or a can(and on the other end of that, MOST low income families did know how to cook but didn’t have the money to eat well). I worked with children who could not identify common vegetables. Even a potato, despite french fries being a  staple of their diet. And really, this education is not just needed for poor people. This applied to every economic class.3D-DVD-coverWhen I started this food stamp series , I had a mission and that was very basically, to prove that you CAN eat healthy on a food stamp budget. It’s certainly become  diversified as I’ve become more aware of obstacles others face to make that happen. I feel like I haven’t focused on things that need to be discussed in depth ( for example  I have over 3,000 words sitting in my drafts folder just about junk food and the complexities of why we shouldn’t prohibit certain items from being purchased on SNAP and why the current political climate isn’t going to allow change to happen anyway and why. It needs to be put out there but it needs edited so people don’t fall asleep reading it) . Overall though, this is still my main objective . This was also the basic premise Shira set out to explore :Can you eat healthy on a food stamp budget?

First of all, the amount Shira & Yoav worked with is quite a bit less than most food stamp challenges you read about. The amount they allowed was about $1 per meal for one week. Realistically, this is more accurate than the $35/week amount most challenges  work with. This has been hotly debated both here and on my Facebook page before. I also moderate a private group online for food stamp recipients and no one receives this amount of $35/person. Right now, we receive $20/person per week and that seems to be about the norm.The film showed both Shira and Yoav’s grocery shopping trip and also the grocery shopping trip of a food stamp recipient. Whereas Shira & Yoav’s objective was to eat healthy, the food stamp recipient represented the Standard American Diet.I took notes while watching and compared how we shop to both:

Shira & Yoav’s Grocery List

  • One thing that can’t be reflected in just a week challenge is the staple items you might buy that will last a whole month. Like for me, vinegar & baking soda are essentials because I also use them for cleaning …and along with the oil they purchased, they could have had salad dressing. Also flour…they could have made bread themselves.
  • During the summer months when we have good access to free produce thanks to the Veterans’ Sanctuary Farm and garden shares, we have a little bit more flexibility to buy the more expensive things like coconut oil. I think the jar of coconut oil I have right now was bought in September and I use it for many things (even making deodorant). It was$9 ,so not a purchase that could be made when I have no flexibility
  • They showed very well how every purchase requires forethought and how much planning needs to happen.During discussions of living within a food stamp budget, the critics will always scoff and point out that SNAP stands for SUPPLEMENTAL blah blah…. that the program isn’t designed to fund a recipient’s entire meal plan. This is where education of the general public fails and the disconnect with those people and the reality of living on food stamps. For most people, that is absolutely all there food budget is and for some, food stamps is the ONLY income they have.
  • I was happy to see that they supplemented with a little dumpster diving (for bread). Depending on  the city, there are some organizations who will collect all the perishable food from the supermarkets and distribute to those in need, so you don’t have to dumpster dive.
  • Yes, we eat a lot of beans,too. Not always organic and it’s honestly the last criteria I have when buying food. It’s important to have enough to feed my family and that takes priority over things like whether it’s organic or local.
  • I buy coffee. It’s not ethical coffee and I consider it my “sin item”. One of these days, I’ll quit it.

Richard (SNAP Recipient)

  • we do buy ramen,too but we throw the nasty flavor packets out (MSG makes me ill and my  kids don’t need it either).We just add spices and herbs to season. I joke that my Faux-Hubby should write a ramen cookbook because of the diverse dishes he can make with ramen noodles. We always add veggies..sometimes meat. The veggies aren’t always fresh .
  • Meat is always the first thing axed from the budget to allow for produce
  • Richard is type 2 diabetic (like my own dear Faux-Hubby) and admits that his diet isn’t what his doctor would recommend. I know from living w/ someone who doesn’t follow the best eating plan for a diabetic that it can be really hard to break out of the habits,even if you do know better. And besides, a food stamp budget quite often does not accommodate special eating needs

They also visit a damn good food pantry. Here in my very small town, the food pantry very rarely has fresh produce. Actually, we don’t use the food pantry because most of what they offer is processed , pre-packaged foods. Obviously, if we were not making do within our food stamp budget, I’d have no problem accepting the food if I had to in order to feed my family but it’s not what I choose to feed them normally. It’s a last resort for me.


However, we have accepted food from The Friendship Donation Network, which is one of those organizations I mentioned before that collect perishable food  from supermarkets,restaurants, and caterers and distribute.Other than the actual experience of food shopping & cooking within the parameters of a limited budget, Food Stamped very thoroughly covers the basics of the hunger in America, the food stamp program itself , the political factors affecting poverty in America , the obstacles poor people face in accessing healthy food, and (hallelujah!) the relationship of The Farm Bill to SNAP. Shira & Yoav Potash did an excellent job at presenting the information that everyone should know, whether they are a critic of  SNAP, a concerned citizen who would like an activist role to play in food security, or a food stamp recipient. Rep Jim McGovern  and other politicians also appear to offer their input on why hunger is how it is and what should be done. As McGovern says, “Hunger is a political condition. We have all the resources, we have all the knowledge…we have everything we need to solve it. What we don’t have it political will.”

 I often feel that if  citizens were better informed on the issues, there would be more of a push to affect change and more pressure put on politicians to change the broken system.The harsher of my own critics who have followed the food stamp series here are the kind of people who could benefit the most from seeing all this information in one piece. I always feel so frustrated after watching a good documentary because I feel like the people who need the information the most will never take it upon themselves to watch it ,or if they do, they do so with their ingrained mindsets firmly planted and closed to receiving info that could even slightly alter their view. My local grassroots organization Back to Democracy hosts public viewings of documentaries on many topics and it’s always the same people who attend. People who already have an inkling on the subject matter and already would have a leaning to not only be receptive to any information learned but also be inspired to take action towards changing things.

As my friend Jennelle just said, “What annoys me more is people who should see a particular documentary and not only do they *not* see it, but then they comment on it like they’ve seen it when they’ve only vicariously seen it through whatever bullshit they’ve heard about it in the media.”

It’s SO true. I know I’m an altruistic dreamer but I really wish people could just be open to receive information purely and unfettered,without preconceived notions and bullshit clouding how they process it and exactly what Jennelle said…. be willing to get the information themselves instead of being fed what they know from other sources.So, see it or don’t but of all the information out there, this is one excellent resource to get the fundamental idea of the issues that affect those living on food stamps

Teach Me How To Breast Feed [VIDEO]

Urban Matriarch made this awesome video, inspired by women she has helped breastfeed and her own breastfeeding experience.

I want to just say a few things about breastfeeding and formula to make it totally clear what my intentions are here, now and in future blog posts.

I am a “lactivist”. I support and encourage breastfeeding. I’ve breastfed 6 children. I’m still nursing a toddler. I love breastfeeding. In terms of how it applies to folks struggling with food security, it is totally applicable. Breastfeeding is a free and secure resource that ensures a baby gets the nourishment he or she needs, no matter how much money is in Mama’s bank account or SNAP budget… or if there’s a misstep in the stat’s management of WIC funds and their program is shut down.

But I’ve also had to use formula. Maybe “had to” isn’t the right wording. I had no support while breastfeeding preemie twins and it was a stressful, frustrating process I could not work through alone. Maybe if I had the support, I could have done it but that’s not the way it worked out. So, in the neat labeling system that happens within the Mamahood, I have been a Formula Feeding Mom. So, I know the crap people can give you for not breastfeeding.

I’m not into the judging thing here. I’m into being an advocate. If you feed your baby formula, don’t take anything pro-breastfeeding here as a personal criticism of your choice. I am sure there will be opportunities here to talk about formula feeding,too. When it comes to being an advocate for mothers and children living below the poverty line, it’s important to me to advocate for ALL mothers, no matter how they chose to feed their baby. I think that’s what being an advocate for women & mothers  (feminism,humanism,etc) should look like,anyway.

Teach Me How To Breast Feed [MUSIC VIDEO] – YouTube.