The Times- Standard reports Food for People is trying to get everyone who is eligible to enroll in the Food Stamp program. It might surprise some to know I've never had too much of a problem with food stamps. I figure it's the least we can do to provide food to people in need.
It might also surprise some to know it's actually more difficult to qualify for food stamps than it is to qualify for MediCal or the County Medical Services Program.
We applied for food stamps a couple years ago after a particularly brutal month in regards work and travel to UCSF. It rained and rained and I wasn't working. Then, we had to go to UCSF for a consultation. To add insult to injury, not only did we have to stay two nights because the roads were snowed over, we had to return to UCSF a week later.
Then it rained and rained more when we returned and I basically only got about a week's work done that month. I was starting to worry we might not have enough money to buy food so, when we reapplied for MediCal, I went ahead and applied for food stamps and we eventually both qualified.
I pretty much just used them when cash was low. One month I didn't use food stamps at all and I received a letter from the Welfare Dept. shortly thereafter advising me that if I didn't use the food stamps by a certain date, I'd be taken off food stamps.
I say "I" because with food stamps you have to file a quarterly income report. Once Connie ended up on Social Security Disability, they threw her off food stamps, saying she couldn't get food stamps if she was on SSD (I know. Go figure. I asked about that but never got a response).
So, I got them for a while longer and used them. Then I filled out the quarterly report one time and sent it in. I was advised shortly thereafter I was being dropped from the Food Stamp program because I'd made too much money.
What a surprise. I make too much money? Oh well.
Anyway, the qualifications for all these social programs were made up some 30 years ago, I was told by one of the social workers, and it shows. For food stamps, you can't have more than $2000 in the bank (or cash on hand) to qualify.
That might seem doable for someone working for minimum wage and living in the Eureka Housing Authority projects but it's very difficult when you're self- employed and need money stored away for business or travel purposes.
For MediCal you can have up to $3000 in the bank. Interesting that the amount allowed for MediCal is greater than for food stamps, isn't it? Especially with all the stories I've heard about how easy it is to get food stamps.
They also look at your income. I'm not sure just how Food Stamps compares with MediCal but I think they might have roughly the same income formula since I don't recall two formulas.
Basically, they take your mortgage or rent costs and the costs of your utilities (water,power and phone). Add $600.00 to that and that's how much you supposedly can live on. If you make a certain amount more than that, you either get a reduction in food stamps or get booted altogether.
MediCal works slightly different than food stamps: If you make more than rent + utilities+ $600, they put you on Share of Cost. That basically means that the difference between rent plus utilities minus what you earned a particular month is what your share of cost towards medical care is. So, you basically spend any extra money you make on medical care until MediCal or CMSP takes over.
Both are unpleasant systems to deal with but it has always surprised me how the qualifications for food stamps were higher (higher= lower for purposes here: $3000 vs. $2000) than for MediCal. You'd think they'd be pretty much the same, or at the very least that it would be easier to qualify for free food than free medical care.