What to Do When You Can’t Afford Food

The times are tough, and as the pandemic continues to affect us all in many different ways, this article feels like a necessity to show all the other options out there you can opt for to make your life that extra bit more worth living.

Families are struggling, and on the top of the list of struggles comes the challenge of buying food. This is a growing problem, and it seems that the end is not in sight. If you cannot cope and cannot afford even the essential food items, there may be some other options that can help you out.

Ask

Sometimes, the easiest thing can be the most challenging thing to do. Asking for food is the hardest decision that someone can take. Nevertheless, you can always ask restaurants, grocery stores or markets and many such places. While asking, also make them understand your situation very clearly and explain that the circumstances are challenging for you. Some organizations go from restaurant to restaurant and take leftover food from there and distribute it later to people who don’t have money or are homeless in dire need.

Basic budget

Mapping out your budget is the first thing you should do. List all of your living requirements on paper or digitally, and start with food. Only think about the things that you genuinely need to live and budget accordingly. Once you have a budget set, make it your duty to never go outside of this budget.

SNAP benefits

This is primarily a USA program, but you can find similar programs for your country. SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that helps people get benefits based on their state and income. People will apply to this for many reasons and can be eligible for many reasons, so don’t take it from here but go directly to the Government website and get more information. Suppose you can apply and get approved. You will get a notification with all the information and details, including the period you will continue to receive those benefits. 

WIC

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Another program is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Congress is the one who controls this, and it gets funded through individual states. 

There is a list of criteria that you must meet if you want to qualify for WIC. The requirements include categorical, residential, income and nutritional risk. 

Free lunches

There are many programs specifically made to help people who cannot afford food in their houses. Free lunch summer programs, soup kitchens, or 24/7 kitchens that stay open solely for people to get food are some of the most important options that you can take advantage of. You need to be aware of these programs as they are placed there specifically to help you. 

Food banks

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If, by chance, you do not meet the eligibility criteria for any program, the above solutions will come to your aid. Another organization that helps is local food pantries. They are charitable and not for profit organizations that give away food to people without money or with very little and still cannot afford to buy the absolute necessities. A statistic to put things in perspective, food banks in the UK are helping up to a million people not starve, and the number in the United States of America is probably even higher. 

No matter how you may feel about going to food banks and asking for help, be reassured of your health and safety. 

Coupon expert

Become an expert coupon collector! These are your best friends during trying times. Stores give you coupons, and there are apps on the play store that have coupons for many stores in your neighbourhood. Vouchers can also give you advantages like buying in bulk at low prices or having discounted items that will expire in a week or so. 

NGOs

There are many not for profit governmental organizations that have a scheduled time and place where they distribute food. Going there and having your lunch or dinner is always a good option. 

Apart from NGOs, there are churches, mosques, gurudwaras and various other temples, depending on where you live, which will offer you free food and other benefits if you go to them and ask for help. 

Dumpster diving

As weird as it sounds, dumpster diving is a legitimate thing that people engage in. Dumpster diving is basically what it says. Dive into a dumpster and find sealed packets of food that many restaurants and hotels often throw out, or even grocery shops. These products are usually thrown out because they seem or look bad or are past their sell-by date. 

Nevertheless, however harmful this option may seem, you are doing what you need to do because you need the nutrition and the strength to get through the hardships you are facing right now. 

Stock on pantry items

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If you have even a little money, you can stock up on ramen noodles, crackers, flour, beans and rice. Such items go a long way in feeding you and keeping change in your pocket. These items can also be kept for a long time, so there are no chances of them going off anytime soon, and you can ration them out with no problem at all. 

Social services

Another measure that you can take is contacting social services or their offices, letting them know of your predicament, and asking for their help. They will usually give you food assistance by giving you an EBT card which works like a debit card and is primarily for buying groceries and related items.

Getting a job

Getting a job is the most challenging solution, but if you can make it happen, it will not just solve your food problems but also your living. Even if you get little money from your job, there’s always some food worth eating that you can buy from loose change.

Many people have to decide between giving up food and giving up on other basic needs, and sadly, they believe that giving up food is the way to go. One might think they can live without food but cannot live without shelter. You shouldn’t have to decide between either.

The above solutions are just some suggestions to help make your life a little easier if you ever have a food issue.

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