“Those People” Eat Quinoa, Too



There’s a food drive happening at the school where I work. Several bins have been set up throughout the hallways, with cute kid-decorated signs that implore us to SCARE HUNGER and donate non-perishables for the local food shelf.

As I am wont to do, I look at the food as I walk by. Why? Because I like food. It’s like porn to me. I wish I was lying. So I walk by, several times a day, and gaze at the donations.

Dang. We have some swanky grocery shoppers at our school…the bins are filled with “fancy” foodstuff, lots of organic offerings, and some deviations from the standard mac and cheese/boxes of spaghetti. There’s rice pasta, artichoke hearts packed in seasoned oil, gluten-free crackers, olive tapenade….and quinoa. I look at those bins like Sylvester looked at Tweety Bird.

Like I was doing earlier this week. Walking by, checking out the bins. One of the women who helped organize the drive was in the hallway, and I called out to her “Wow! Look at all this awesomeness!” or something similarly enlightening. She beamed and said, “I know! The parents at this school are amazing.”

As she was saying this, another woman happened by. She smiled at us, like people who see each other several times a day in passing do, and then she said this:

“Too bad they won’t know what to do with most of it.”

It was one of those moments in life, when your ears hear something but your brain can’t quite process it.  I was fairly certain I’d just heard her say what I thought I’d heard her say…but it didn’t really sink in. It floated there, like a film of rainbow-hued oil over a puddle in the street.

I spoke up, while she was still within earshot. “What do you mean?”. I wanted to know. I wanted to verify what she said, make sure I hadn’t misunderstood.

The woman stopped. She turned towards me, one hand holding a couple of manila folders, the other resting lightly on her hip. She was still smiling.

“Those people won’t know what most of that is. I mean, really, quinoa?”

Yep. I’d heard her correctly.

Those people.

The last time I got groceries at our local food shelf was this past February. Eight months ago. The long-overdue child support from my ex kicked in later that month, and although it wasn’t much, it made the difference between being able to buy groceries and having to get them from a food shelf. For that, I’m grateful.

Those people.

I can still remember the first time I visited the food shelf. I had driven by, so many times, trying to work up the courage to pull into the parking lot. I’d whisper to myself, “Dammit. I can’t” and I’d keep driving, home to the barren fridge and the Old-Mother-Hubbard cupboards. Until the desperation overshadowed my pride.

Those people.

Once you get past the hardest part, which is walking through the door, being at the food shelf isn’t so bad. I mean, it’s not something that inspires one to burst into song and run around high-fiving people, but as far as life experiences go, not so bad. Sure, there’s the heat on your cheeks as you fill out the paperwork, giving these strangers your life history. Telling them how you got into this pickle. This predicament. Telling them what you do for money, how much you get and how you spend it. But you get used to having hot cheeks. You become accustomed to averting your gaze so as not to make too much eye contact. You eventually become, dare I say, comfortable at the food shelf.

Those people.

I quickly found out that food shelves are a lot like TJ Maxx…it’s hit or miss. Some days the shelves are full, and full of really good things. Annie’s Mac and Cheese. Organic marinara sauce. Fresh vegetables. Whole chickens in the freezer. Brie from Trader Joe’s that’s only 2 days past the expiration date. Other days, you have to scramble to even get near the required weight of food in your cart (yeah…you get a certain number of pounds of food, depending on the size of your family). Dented cans of creamed corn. Spoiled produce that even the most resourceful, broke chef couldn’t salvage. Individual sleeves of saltine crackers. But beggars can’t be choosers, right?

Those people.

I visited the food shelf a total of 5 times in about 11 months. I only told one friend. I told my kids, and when I did, I expected them to laugh, or get angry, or embarrassed. They didn’t do any of those things. They helped me put the groceries away, and they did so quietly, not saying much other than the occasional exclamation of “Yum!” or “Gross!”. I can recall for you, on command, most of the meals I made with food shelf goodies. Oven roasted chicken with quartered rosemary potatoes. Turkey chili. French toast. More mac and cheese than I care to admit. One of my favorites was an organic risotto, flavored with mushrooms and olive oil.

Those people.


I wanted to say that, but I didn’t. Instead, all I could muster was,

“I like quinoa.”

To which she replied, “Well yes, of course. You’re not one of those people.”

If only she knew.

Can you help one of “those” people this year? Please read about the Scary Mommy Thanksgiving Project. We need your help! 


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  1. says

    This is so perfect. I’m one of those people too, and whenever I run up against discrimination of this sort, I bristle, react, rise up. In a way I appreciate people like this, because they’re the sort who pushed me to the limits of education; I just kept rising and rising because they suggested I couldn’t.

    Lately it occurred to me: One who’s given chances will give the same. Sounds to me like this person hasn’t enjoyed the gift of opportunity, and isn’t ready to offer a similar turn. So much the worse; she’ll never escape her own vanity. On the other hand, now there’s quinoa on the food shelf.

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    • says

      Hi Brian. Thanks so much for reading, and for sharing your perspective on this subject. The kicker in this situation is, I always liked this woman. Well educated, seemingly so kind, so good with the kids at school. It blew me away to hear these things coming from her.

      I bet whoever gets that quinoa is going to do something fabulous with it :)


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      • Babs says

        I agree, and I’ll use the “those people” term in reverse here. Because my husband & I weren’t always struggling as we are now, some of my closest friends and connections over the past few years have been “those people”–the wealthy, or, let’s say (because some of them would not consider themselves wealthy) the “financially more comfortable” ones who honestly do not understand how humiliating it is, not only to have to receive food from a charity organisation, but to have to listen to (or read on Facebook and elsewhere) the condescending remarks about “lazy people who want to be supported with other people’s money,” and so on. Yet some of these same people who make such comments are, in person, friendly and generous. If they are harsh and judgmental, sometimes it’s because they haven’t been there. They need to hear our side of the story.

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      • Zipporah says

        I agree that the condescending tone was offensive and uncalled for, but her sentiment was not THAT incorrect. And before people jump on me for that, let me say that I was, for several years, on the board of my county’s Food Pantry Network (it is a small rural county in New England and we have a total of eight “official” food pantries, though there are a few more private pantries run by churches or fraternal organizations), and as well volunteered at each location.

        I was the one who developed recipes that used our (excess) of commodity foods that was distributed by a larger (regional) food donation warehouse. I MADE the actual recipes for our clients to taste, gave them printed cards with the recipes, AND provided additional ingredients needed to make the dish they had sampled (such as packets of pre-measured herbs and spices they may not have at home).

        Most usually if it was an “odd” food (the most infamous shipments being bags of dried cherries, dried figs, cheese soup, canned pork, frozen free-range chicken sausage, couscous, and oddly enough, QUINOA), at least 90% of the clients would not touch it. They did NOT know how to prepare it, or couldn’t think of a use for it (even after sampling some that had been used in a recipe) or just plain refused to even TRY it. We also had a very hard time getting them to take dried beans (which are a GREAT, healthy source of protein and keep well). The most usual response? “It takes to long to do that soaking thing.” and the more honest response- “They just make me gassy!”.

        The 10% that knew how to use the more odd/gourmet ingredients were VERY happy to see them on the shelves, but most people would not take them.

        So though I agree that this woman should have shown more respect in how she addressed the clients, it’s very likely that she had seen the same patterns and responses so such foods as I did. After a while, you do start to feel like a gourmet cook who has children who will ONLY eat Kraft mac&cheese and dry cereal- it’s discouraging to know that if they just TRIED something new, they would probably like it, but they refuse to even try it.

        (And for the record.. I was also a person who used those food pantries to get by during hard times, so I have been one of “those people”, too.)

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        • Eoin says

          Interesting. But I’d say you have a false correlation going on–particularly since you didn’t control test with general population and older generations. I’d suggest it’s equally likely that an affluent, aged man or woman would balk at quinoa, for example.

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          • Lula says

            So funny, quinua (the proper name in Spanish) always comes up in this discussions about WIC and food stamps. Quinua has existed for hundreds of years and now is the “en boga” food here in the US. I have eaten quinua all my life, one of the best foods along with kiwicha, maca, trigo etc. Now everybody wants it and what it used to be one of the cheapest foods, is now expensive in our countries, because the US wants it badly, but still, people do not know how to prepare it correctly or make the wonderful dishes one can make with quinua besides putting it just in salads.

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        • Anne Marie says

          You also need to think about guilt and pride. Quite a few people going in, particularly younger people without children, feel they don’t “deserve” more then plain, boring, cheap food and could barely swallow their pride enough to go in just to stop going hungry, let alone enough to “let” themselves take something nicer.

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        • Scott says

          The question here is NOT whether people using a food bank know how to use quinoa or not; the issue is the arrogance of the comment, “those people,” as if she would never be one of “those people” who need some assistance. If we’re discussing whether or not people shopping at a food bank know what to do with quinoa, the truth is probably much more that, whether you’re shopping at a food bank or Trader Joe’s (that’s a regional organic-type grocery, for those not familiar with the name) or your local grocery store, a lot of people don’t know what to do with specialty food items, and so they don’t buy them. And yet, Trader Joe’s STILL stocks quinoa (and all sorts of other things I wouldn’t ever know what to do with) because some people DO know what to do with them, and so the food is there. I would wager a bet that the percentage of people shopping at a Trader Joe’s who know what to do with quinoa is probably not much higher than the percentage of people that shop at a food bank. And who knows but that a budding young chef, the son or daughter of a family served by a local food bank, might not enjoy the occasional challenge of something new and different. And yet, this woman’s careless and insensitive attitude conveys the thought that anyone who benefits from a local food shelter is part of a monolithic group of people that can only cook the most basic of foods, would never appreciate anything different, and are ignorant of anything beyond macaroni and cheese and canned corn. If only she knew . . . As the old saying goes, “There but for the grace of God go I.” May this woman come to understand that it is by God’s grace that she is able to care for her family, and that any number of circumstances might arise that could very quickly turn her into one of “those people” — I just pray that, if that were to happen, she would be able to go to a food shelter and find quinoa and many of the other foods she now enjoys eating that, according to her, “those people” aren’t really worthy to have.

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    • Elaine Brennan says

      While I was going through my divorce, the attorney kept working on (and charging us for) a separation agreement that never got put in place. My husband was paying the mortgage, utilities, etc. and I had to let him know what I would be bringing home that week and produce a shopping list, including costs of the items, and he would decide what we did not need and send me a check for the reduced list,,, luckily, I was always someone who had an overflowing pantry and stuffed freezer,so I was able to supplement for quite some time. Then, I bought the kids’ spring clothes and sent the charge receipt. The charge receipt referred to my son’s jacket as a sweatshirt and my mother-in-law exploded about me buying him such an expensive sweatshirt… so I got no grocery checks for a couple of weeks and, since I had changed jobs and was new, that week I got no paycheck. I had a bottle of ketchup, some other condiments, one frozen pork chop and a couple of frozen English muffins… what was I going to do? We had been having some unusual meals, made from the bits of this and that we still had… peanut butter on English muffin sandwiches for lunch that day – the jelly was gone. I did not have a full meal left in the house… I was envisioning driving to the food bank in my late model Cutlass and my North Stamford clothes with my North Stamford address… Luckily, it did not happen, because, that day I received the checks for the missing weeks and went to the grocery store and bought enough to fill the trunk… I had pulled into the garage and opened the trunk as my 9 year old son came home from school and looked at all of the food and said “oh! we won’t have to go hungry”… I let anyone who makes comments know that they should try walking in the shoes of someone who is in need before they judge.

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      • Justine says

        Elaine I am so sorry you and your children faced such horrible financial abuse. Every person who humiliates or belittles a woman or mother who needs help adds to the power of financial abusers.

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  2. Lisa says

    A friend of mine is in the same situation. Her ex refuses to pay child support and she has no money to pay for gas or food. She has not had to go to a food bank yet, because a bunch of us were able to give her food. Her ex makes over 100K and they have to use space heaters in a room because he broke their heater and she doesn’t have the $ to fix it. One month she was doing ok and the next she doesn’t have a cent. It could happen to any one of us. I am sorry that you had to go through this ordeal. No mom should ever have to worry about how to feed her kids. Thank you for sharing your story.

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    • says

      Hey Lisa! Your friend’s situation sounds almost exactly like the one I was in for a few years. Like, up until just about 8 months ago :) Have her read my blog…or get in touch with me through facebook. I’ve been through this, and I might be able to give her some advice. Or else, just a chubby shoulder to cry on.

      You nailed it with this: “It could happen to any one of us.” I never in a million YEARS would have pictured myself needing to go to a food shelf. Never. And yet, there I was.

      Thanks so much for reading, and for taking the time to comment.


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    • Celeste says

      That’s what is scary. Most people are one lay-off, divorce, serious health issue away from living a comfortable life to being almost bankrupt. And, in these times, its not just easy to pick up and move on to another well-paying job, and god knows healthcare costs are out of this world (even for those that are insured), and all it takes is one serious life event to go from being just fine to being completely in the hole.

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    • meg says

      I have to say. I have a college degree and my husband was in the military and we have been having to use the food pantries. They have been a god send!! I have been laid off for over a year and he has been on and off jobs for over a year. We have lost our house so we are renting now. At one point in our lives we were making over a 150,000. the littlest thing can take you down to nothing! I never judge people because you just never know and I thank everyone! No matter how small! Loved the article and so many people need to think as if they were “those people” because ya know what? next week they may be! Karma!

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      • michelle says

        I was one of “those people” when I was divorced single mother in the Army. My pride took a hit when I applied for food stamps and went to food pantries, but it was more important for my kids to eat than what i thought other might think about me.

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    • Kate says

      So true. There are people in this world who would do well to remember that everyone is really only ‘a series of unfortunate events’ from disaster. Be grateful, give back, do not judge.

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  3. Lilly says

    I was raised by a single mother who had to beg the neighbors for food for us and go hungry herself. It can be anyone, it can happen any time.

    On a side note, I do think that donations should mostly include staples, basics that people can use as they like. It’s just more practical, I think.

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    • says

      Hey Lilly, thank you for reading and sharing your story. So true. It happens right under our noses and we aren’t aware of it.

      I agree with you that staples are a good thing. Actually, when you have nothing to feed your kids, ANYTHING is good. I will say, however, that finding something “different” was always a sick little thrill for me. And it gave my kids something new to try. Which was a good thing, too.

      Again, thanks so much for reading, and commenting.


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      • Meg says

        Those ARE basics for this house…

        We, like an increasing percentage of the population, have food allergies. Celiac disease and life threatening allergies to dairy means that blue box of yummy mac & cheese is as poisonous as cyanide. Quinoa becomes a pilaf, or a stuffing, or ground into flour to make cookies. Rice pasta is the difference between spaghetti and red sauce or tomato soup.

        We are blessed that we haven’t become one of “those people,” but we all know that ANYTHING can happen.

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        • says

          It’s a great thing for those of us that donate to remember. To go out of our way to donate things that are out of the ordinary and might be needed by those with food allergies or sensitivities. Staples are great – I could take what little we had and come up with something to eat especially if I had bullion cubes, flour and sugar on hand. Those were tough years but I know they made me who I am and also helped my children not take things for granted.

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        • Rainey Daye says

          Yes, as the mom to an adorable kiddo with a life threatening peanut allergy, I beg of everyone who donates to food pantries to include a jar of Sunbutter in there with the jars of peanut butter. You never know but that a family coming in for help who needs an easy source of protein might have a little one who NEEDS sunbutter because peanut butter could kill them.

          Growing up as a missionary kid there were definitely times where we didn’t know where our next meal was coming from. Thankfully, we usually ended up having people give us groceries right when we needed it, so we never had to go to a food bank (even if one month we ate nothing but oatmeal for breakfast and beans and tortillas for lunch and dinner) but we might easily have had to if it wasn’t for their help. So we very easily could have been one of “those people”!!

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          • heather says

            I agree. My daughter has alleries to a few things. So it is rare to find things she can eat.and the tings she can eat are expensive. So I Need what ever I can find for the rest of the family.

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      • Helen K. Krummenacker says

        My husband volunteered at a nonprofit, and they knew we were starving students so after the bags were parceled out for the official clients, they often sent home things with him, especially when a farmer gave produce or a store donated baked goods that wouldn’t keep. Some days I would nearly weep with joy to see something we hadn’t been able to buy in a long time. So yes, staples are good, but some days an avocado or a pear or cinnamon bread could make someone’s week feel like magic.

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    • Marla says

      I have been on food stamps, and have received government food surplus, cheese, peanut butter, butter. That was in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I would loved to have had toilet paper and dish soap and Lysol too. I have recently started a food pantry at my church. It was a desire of mine to include these things. We have done that and also have a personal closet with toothpaste and brushes, deodorant, shampoo and anything else that someone thinks would be good. Everything is donated and we fund raise to be able to buy fresh food for our clients. We want to make the experience as painless as possible for them. You never know when it could be you!

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      • Karen says

        I agree totally. It’s impossible for anyone out of work to go to a job interview when you can’t clean yourself up. Simple things we never think of– shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, deodorant– make a huge difference in whether or not they may be hired. It also makes an even bigger difference in how a person feels about themselves.

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    • Kat says

      A lot of people use food donations to clean out their pantry – getting rid of stuff they bought and never used. Some of ‘those people’ might be glad to get unusual ingredients but most will not (as said so well above). My daughter was out of work for 5 weeks due to illness. She is a CPA and is only paid when she works. Five weeks with no income and she was ready to go to the food bank. She did get more beans than she will use in several years, but appreciated the items and learned how to cook the beans and make healthful meals.

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  4. Kati says

    Thank you for speaking up on SM. I think we often view poverty as an affliction of the uneducated relegated to the slums of the city or rural areas no one ever dare visit. We see them as “those people” because then we can complain about how the take from the system with no regard or interest in “bettering” their lives. We need more people to share their stories we need to unmask poverty and hunger so people can see how real the issue is for all not just “those people”. Poverty and hunger should be a top priority not just at food drive time. We have built a system where people must rely on expensive grocery stores instead of being primarily self reliant and then we blame them, shame them, or hide them when they can’t afford those grocery stores. It is a sad but articles like this can help people see how serious and far reaching the problem really is. Thank you.

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    • says

      Hi Kati

      Thanks so much for reading! A friend of mine made a really eye opening comment about this on my facebook page. She wanted to find out who said this and invite her to the PTO meeting where they’d be discussing the disbursement of scholarship funds, and show this woman exactly how prevalent “other people” really are, even in our little school.

      I talk about my situation very openly, both on my blog and in person. I went through a crappy divorce and then went several years without child support…all while trying to find a job that paid a living wage (after being a stay at home mom for a dozen years) and taking care of my four kids. I really am “the girl next door” and yep…it happened to me.

      There are SO MANY people who need help. I hear a lot from people about how lazy welfare moochers are sucking this country dry, about how we have to stop giving handouts and teach people to be self-reliant. Those things may be true in some cases, but the reality is, people DO need a hand now and then and that will never stop happening. (as a side note, even making approx. $2000 a month w/ a family of 5, I was told I made too much money to receive any benefits from the government…something to think about)

      Thanks for your kind words.


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      • Kati says

        You are so right. Most people receiving these so called handouts are the “working poor” and then their are those that make “to much” for any assistance but not enough to get by. I am a SAHM and my own DH has been laid off twice because of the recession. We burned through our savings in a matter of months and we’re still told his unemployment was to much for food stamps for a family of 5 (about 1800 a month) I was shocked. Luckily he was offered a job in the nick of time but we would have been there as well if he wasn’t. It is tough especially when things are getting more expensive but wages are stagnate. People need to realize what is really happening and stories such as this can be an eye opener for some. You are awesome for sharing. No one should ever feel bad for needing help now and then.

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      • pat says

        First,thank you for your great blog !I am so happy to see this,bringing these issues out of the closets and into the faces of THOSE PEOPLE. However, as a professional,mental health counselor, I can tell you that those people, have no idea what you are talking about, and probably never will and don’t “waste” one minute of their thought on anything other than their own needs. Their serious pathology reaches so deep, they have an inability to ever be sensitive to any of this.It is their “disability,” and it is prevalent, especially in these hard times, and political chaos.We actually almost elected one of THOSE PEOPLE as President.Yikes ! The world is truly upside down.
        As a single parent, with one daughter with Learning Disabilities and Asperger’s,I have been waiting (Hah!), for 46 years to receive any child support.I raised my daughter on my own, worked at awful,low-paying odd jobs,put myself through college and grad school,and put my daughter through 4 years of a special college for special needs kids,then, $28,000,per year, without books,and spending money.During her college years, both elderly parents became ill.I took them on as well, there was no one else.I had started a private practice after grad school, and did very well.I loved my work.I bought myself a new car for the very first time,and eventually bought my own home.
        When my daughter was little,I was on welfare.I claspsed the food stamp money, (then like dollar bills),in my hands as I faced the check-out person, trying to hide my shame,and avoid questions…yes, from THOSE PEOPLE.I rose above with lots of blood,sweat and many tears, and became a person with rightful, deserved, self-pride,and a wonderful sense of accomplishment.My daughter was very proud of her hard-working Mom. Until she wasn’t. To make a long, sad story short, 10 years ago,I was forced to sell my home, with my office inside,had nowhere to go with 2 dogs,two cats,had no place for my patients to be, finally wound up completely broke and broken. I had to move into my daughter’s small attic apartment.This is where I was stunned to learn the extent of my daughter’s violent physical and emotional rage, due to her disabilities, and her incredible anger that I was “intruding.”But I had never experienced her this way. I was completely baffled, I was so hurt,and beaten,I couldn’t cope. Once again, and this is over 40 years later, I am living badly, have food stamps, and disability. I go the the local food bank, barely getting through each day, having been diagnosed with both Clinical Depression and PTSD.
        Here’s the real kicker : my beautiful daughter married a very wealthy guy,lives in a luxury apartment in NYC, and I rarely hear from her.She (they) knows my situation, but feel no sense of compassion, and offer no help.She wouldn’t know quinoa from birdseed,she is… THOSE PEOPLE.And to her, I am now one of THOSE PEOPLE….the other “THOSE PEOPLE”…. people who are homeless or nearly homeless,hungry,hopeless, (in my daughter’s eyes),and to be avoided,actually deserted and abandoned.Although Iam 65, blind in one eye,and suffer crippling spinal stenosis,I still have hope.I am very isolated,depressed,and terribly anxious most days,I try very hard to find work, helping others, as I have always done.Some of THOSE PEOPLE used to be in my social group. I have not seen or heard from a single one since my “fall from grace,” as it were.I’m not surprised,are you ?

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        • JENNY says

          Pat… thanks for sharing your story. I’m at a loss to describe how sorry I am for your struggle. I’ll also remember reading this next time I’m helping at the food shelf. You have given me a lesson in humility. Please know that you have not as you put it “fallen from grace.” You have shown & continue to show grace, mercy & compassion. You sacrificed for your daughter when she needed you & you continue to “help others.” Please don’t give up.

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        • Jennifer says

          Pat,I am so sorry to hear about what’s going on.
          It sounds like your daughter may have narcissistic personality disorder.While not all people with Asperger’s have NPD as well,there does seem to be a link in some cases.I know what your daughter did is devastating,but hopefully it’s a small comfort to know it has nothing to do with you as a person.If anything I say is not encouraging please disregard it.

          I would love to know what your private practice was?You may email me if you so wish.
          I hope you find some kind and compassionate people just like you to help you through this hard time,sometimes just a hug can mean so much.

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          • Iranildo says

            I’m having a siaticc issue as well as bursitis but am managing to get my ribs close to the floor when attempting to flatten the wrists. the wrists won’t flatten fully. I do have a posture/stress issue being behind a pc all day and I try to be aware of posture but that falls by the wayside in intense situations. Just got a new pc chair at home which does help me to sit straight but being tired in the evening allows me to slide down in the-position again. I watched your crossed leg siaticc exercise that I can do at work and will be trying it several times a day to do a piriformis stretch .

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        • Jeff B. says

          Thanks for sharing your story, but I would argue that there were points in my life where I was much more judgmental and never gave a second thought to my attitude until others confronted me.

          Initially I didn’t respond well, but in time I too faced hardship and understood the err of my ways. We can all learn to love each other and forego the judgment.

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        • Marilyn Irene Romanick says

          This is for “Pat” , you are truly awesome, read your story and I am quite inspired by your struggles. I do hope some one out there helps you as you have helped others in your time of need. God bless.

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    • Melon says

      It seems that there are too many people that have no empathy and part of it is that to think about this would scare them to death, so they choose to be ignorant. A small chain grocer, not a great looking place inside, but with affordable food and housewares and other items, closed recently and many said “well, we still have the Club store on that side of town and the two larger chains on the other.” I’d shopped at this smaller chain grocery store many times because it was the only regular grocery store on that road, the prices were amazing, AND also when I was low on funds. I saw the many elderly and families (“those people”) who shopped and sometimes filled their carts with dented cans and boxes. That landlord who decided that store no longer needed to be there just made life harder for anyone who NEEDED that store to feed their families. Sure, folks could shop at the dollar store but this store had lovely fresh produce and meat at affordable prices. Some of these folks may use the food bank but this store let them shop for other things they needed. In talking with people, I realized that they’d never stopped to think about what it would be like to worry about feeding their families and didn’t care that this store was being pushed out of town because it could make way for some chain store. We’ve become a society of “look the other way”.

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  5. says

    I was one of those people. My husband was working 3 jobs and I was a stay at home mom. It was just a few times that we were BROKE broke and bills out weighed groceries.
    But I’ve been “those people” I was grateful for free food at a time of need. Shame on her for not being empathetic, and realizing that just because we need help doesn’t mean we are any less of a civilized human that can cook the fancy food we are given!
    Great post.
    Thank you,
    One of “Those people”

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    • says

      Hey JCat! Thank you for chiming in. Always nice to hear from another one of “us”. I was always psyched to find something fancy when I went to the food shelf. For some weird reason it made me feel a little more dignified when I’d see it in the cupboard. Not that there’s no dignity in store-brand cereal and pasta, but just having something “nice” felt good.

      Thanks so much for reading, and for your kind words.


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      • Bill says

        I’ve sometimes wondered if something I’ve donated will be useful to “those people” – not because of snobbiness, but will they have somewhere to cook it, and will they have a refrigerator so they can make a big enough batch to last a couple of days, or should I be donating cans instead of the dried beans that are a lot more food for the money and weight. The people I’ve known who I knew needed food assistance were mostly homeless or in temporary housing, but given the appallingly high number of people who are getting cut off of food stamps if Congress doesn’t do something, we’ll be seeing a lot of people at the food pantries.

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  6. says

    Well frick :/ you made me cry lol. been there, as a child and have been very, very close as a mom. life changes. my dad, my grandparents, they all were doing GREAT until about 2008. Now they can't afford to drive 2.5 hrs to come see me or my babies. my stepdad used to make 50k a year, pretty comfortable for small-town WI, but the line was easily crossed – one extra bill and my mom was at the food shelf. I was never embarrassed then but now, even knowing that a few months the food shelf would've been helpful, I can't bring myself to go. I also feel like there are people who need it more than us. but anyway. thank you for sharing, hopefully it will reach some of 'those people' with no compassion and no filter on their mouth.

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    • ReneeMac says

      I am the same way, Suzi. I would rather scrape the bottom of my cupboard and re-cook leftovers than go to a food pantry because I do feel that other people deserve it more than me. I’m a SAHM of 3 and my husband works 11 hour days for $5 an hour. Not enough for us to really live on. We stay with his mother and while it’s not the most ideal situation, I’m thankful every day. I am on food stamps. And embarrassed every day about having to be on them. But at the same time, I’m glad that I’m able to feed my babies. Even if it means swallowing my pride. I have been to the food pantry a few times. And usually, if I found something I couldn’t use or that just sat on my shelf (our food pantry doesn’t let you shop. They just make you drive through and hand you boxes of food), I would give it to another family I thought could use it. Or make a dinner for another family. It’s so hard sometimes, swallowing that pride. But as mothers, our babies must come first.

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  7. Desiree says

    I’m speechless. I know there are a lot of pretentious assholes out there (hell I live in NY….hang in Brooklyn) but to read this churned my stomach. Smh….People don’t realize who they are talking to or about. My fiancee and I just had a baby, and he works for MTA as a bus driver (makes good money) I’m in school (earning another degree) and a stay at home mother (at his request) & I get food stamps. Sure do. So those people she speaks of who may need help aren’t a bunch of dumb asses who don’t or never have enjoyed good food. I’ve worked with the homeless and met Professors, accountants, and stockbrokers…..shit happens. Smh. Sorry I went off on a tangent but that pissed me off. Great post.

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    • Fond du Lac says

      Your “fiancee” is making crazy good money with great benefits, and people who can barely make ends meet are getting taxed so you can sit at home all day and collect their wages to buy him food? You should both be ashamed of yourselves. “Shit” didn’t “happen” to you, you are gaming the system.

      And no, I will NEVER be you.

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      • Anna says

        Fond du Lac… She’s not sitting home all day, she SAID she was going to school! School is expensive! Living in NY is expensive! Think about the costs they’re paying out and then tell me a bus driver’s salary is “crazy good money”…

        You’re being rather judgmental on a post about NOT JUDGING.

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      • Desiree says

        Thank you so much Anna.

        Let’s get something straight….#1 let’s drop the quotes…my fiancee #2 I said he makes good money to say, shit is real out there…New York City is extremely expensive and though he makes money we barely see it. Make use of Google and read…it’s out there. The cost of living is high and the wages are staying the same. #3 I’m a college student/ stay at home mother because my child had heart surgery and his first year of being on this earth is going to be in my hands…no one else’s #4 I’m 33 working on a second degree so I don’t have to depend on food stamps in the long run and out of my 33 yrs of living on this earth, I’ve worked 18 of them so my taxes went into the system also…….Do the math.

        Now where do you get this “I will NEVER be you” shit from? Did I say you would be? and since we’re on that how about saying “There but for the grace of God, Go I” cause you never know you judgemental piece of shit. Oh and I’m on unemployment with taxes taken out….We’ll just say those taxes are feeding me and my family. Before you fix your fingers to type a bunch of bullshit know the story, or get to know. Or just read!!!! It’s a horrible four letter word most are afraid of.

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      • Victoria says

        I came across this article and read a bunch of inspiration stories and found out there were great non-judgemental people in the world. Then I came across your comment Fond du Lac and you ruined everything. Don’t go around judging people’s lives from what few things they said, the story is always more complex!

        Also, not sure if you are from Wisconsin from just being pretentious, but “Fond du Lac” means Lake Bottom in French. Just FYI.

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    • Amy says

      Another point of view from someone who has been one of “those” people and someone who works with “them” now: you are actually the minority. The majority wouldn’t know what quinoa was or what to do with it. It’s not being degrading to state that some people don’t eat like that. I’m college educated from a family of educators, but we ate very simple stuff that was only organic because we grew it. Trader Joe’s, brie, Annies mac, etc……not even in my vocabulary. But I don’t think it’s rude if someone pointed out that I wouldn’t know what to do with that stuff or care about it, because it’s true, I don’t.

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      • Tonia says

        I have no idea what to do with quinoa either I had to look it up online on how to cook it, I am fortunately not one of “those people”, and don’t know how to cook many different things sadly lol.

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      • sm says

        I totally get what you’re saying, but that still doesn’t validate the woman referring to “those people” as, well..”those people”. She was assuming that the people who would eventually be getting those goods would be unable to use them. Was she right? Obviously, no.

        Just because you don’t know what those kinds of foods are, because they aren’t in your vocabulary, does that mean people shouldn’t donate such things to food banks? The world is a very diverse place and the people who frequent food banks are, too. Thank goodness the people who are generous enough to donate food are, as well.

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      • Kari says

        Because even “good money” isn’t enough to pay for the high cost of living. And why would anyone have to justify themselves to you?

        Just because a person receives aid, doesn’t mean that they have to have everyone up in their business.

        Do you want to fully explain all of your financial decisions? Do you want to justify yourself to me or anyone else?

        She obviously qualifies for food stamps or she wouldn’t be getting them.

        Quit trying to decide who is “deserving” and who isn’t…. It’s none of your business.

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  8. Amanda says

    this post really hit home today. I always wondered what “those” people were like…two weeks ago I visited my first food bank. The lady also gave me information on gifts and meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I cried, I now know who “those” people are – I am now one of them. My husbands job has been slow lately and working for a small business, it’s either feast or famine since 2008. We are so grateful for a helping hand. When we can, we will be giving back. Thank you.

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  9. Kim says

    I work for a local food bank; we distribute food to the pantries where people in need can go to get much needed food. We love to see odd stuff come in the donation barrels or through the front door with the volunteers. It provides the variety that clients can’t get when the food bank is purchasing food by the ton.

    One thing I hear a lot (not at work, out in the general public) is people criticizing food pantry clients for being overweight. If a person only has access to nutritionally poor food, their body will suffer. Many people find they have made mac and cheese more often than they’d care to admit, but it’s certainly not the healthiest food. It is food, though, and if you’re hungry enough, you’ll eat it 3x a day, because it’s what you’ve got. If you’re lucky, you can chop up a hot dog or toss some canned peas in. If you’re not, well, it’s just plain ole mac and cheese.

    I think this is an excellent piece, and I’d like to make a challenge to everyone who reads it: Go donate some quinoa to your local food bank/pantry. It’s a great source of protein, it’s versatile, and it tastes great. Your food bank, and its clients, will thank you.

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      • Stephanie says

        Thanks so much for these comments– it reminded me that people need help, and made me think about what to give. I’ll give at Whole Foods this weekend and try to pick up some healthful, out of the ordinary kind of stuff.

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    • Heather says

      I, too, have worked at a local food bank, but I must not see the same kinds of clients you do. Most of our bank’s clients are frequent fliers — not just temporarily down on their luck. They make no effort to better their situation, and they don’t take the “good” food. For example, I once tried to give a man zucchini (above and beyond his food allowance) and he wouldn’t take it.

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      • Conuly says

        Maybe he was allergic to squash, or simply didn’t like it, or had no place to cook it or easily store it. If you had zucchini to give away it is entirely possible that all his friends and family had already tried to use him to unload their surplus zucchini. There is no law that says poor people need to eat foods they don’t like just because they are healthy.

        As far as bettering themselves go, what sort of outreach does your food bank do besides handing out food? That is, are you genuinely in a position to understand and judge what they do when they are not there?

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      • Joy says

        SMH ~ “Frequent fliers”? “Done nothing to better themselves”? Do you know their circumstances? Have you been there for 18 years? Thank God they’re trying to keep their children, their families, theirselves feed and not eating out of a dumpster!

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      • April says

        I totally understand what Heather is getting at. I think the food banks are a great thing for people who need them. Obviously none of us here want children (or adults for that matter) to go hungry. . . . but I have personally known several people who get very generous amounts of food stamps sell those food stamps for drug money and then depend on the food banks to feed them and their children. I am embarrassed to even admit I know such deplorable people but I was naive enough to let one such person rent my basement apartment so I have seen this first hand.

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        • Kari says

          It happens. Everything has abuse in it. And no matter how much you try to weed out the bad apples, there will still be a few of them.

          Personally, if I have to err, I want it to be on the side of compassion.

          And some people have just been so beat down all their lives that they honestly don’t know HOW to do any differently.

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