“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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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,

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“I like quinoa.”

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

If only she knew.

About the writer

Jennifer Ball is a writer, a mom and a dog person who used to have really pretty feet. Her work appears sporadically on her blog, Happy Hausfrau, and has been featured on The Huffington Post, The Today Show, Family Circle magazine and in the Listen To Your Mother anthology published by Putnam in April 2015. When not working at her full-time job or trying desperately to keep up with her TV shows, she enjoys drinking martinis and following drama in comment sections. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. There’s also a really good chance you can find her at either Target or Costco.


Marion Blais 2 months ago

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Amanda 6 months ago

I agree and disagree. I’ve been one of “those people” more times than I care to admit. I am grateful for the generosity of others. I’m doing all I can to be self-sufficient, but sometimes it’s just not enough. On the other hand, sometimes there really are “those people”- there are far too many people who abuse the system, who take and never give back, who don’t even try to better themselves. I’ve seen in MANY times. So while I think your article accounts for a percentage of “those people”, I don’t think it covers the whole pie.

Jane 6 months ago

I’m glad to have read your article on “those people”. While my parents, to my knowledge, never went to a food bank they were the recipients of charity. Thank God for good people that care enough about others to be sure they are feed, clothed and sheltered. Our family received many blessings from others over the years including Easter clothes for all. Wish more people were aware of their blessings and thought, “there but for the grace of God go I”.

Angie 6 months ago

Thank you, with a degree and a good job I have been one of those people. Unfortunately, as the middle class dies more and more every year, more people who thought they would never be on THAT side will have the humbling experience. I am thankful for my ups and downs in my life because I can appreciate when I receive little blessings and try to have a giving and compassionate heart towards others and their struggles.

Rebekah 6 months ago

… and that is why I’m actually thankful that I’ve been one of those people. I’m blessed to have been… I don’t see us and them anymore. I give my lunch away often and feed extra people every day even though I rarely know if I will be able to feed my five kids… because they’re all my sons and daughters, my sisters, my brothers, my fathers and mothers.

Susan 6 months ago

Thank you. I’m one of those people, and have been for a couple years due to circumstances. I’m also a well-dressed, college-educated, well-spoken WASP, having just a (please God) temporary break from the middle class. And I’m a foodie – I getcha on the food porn. We do the happy dance when we find something wonderful and/or wholesome at the food bank, like quinoa, or whole-wheat pasta, or brown rice, meat which isn’t ground (!), or some great seasoning, or fresh produce. Artichoke hearts? Be still MY heart! I feel ya, honey.

Kisha 6 months ago

you know…. I get what you’re saying. That some of us who are no longer in this situation, once WERE in this situation… we don’t look like “those” people. But there is a flip side to this perspective. Years ago, for our church, every Wednesday night, I would pick up the leftover bread and treats from the local Panera Bread. Sometimes there would be HUGE garbage bags full. The next morning I would deliver them to a local street mission / ministry. This went on for several months. After a time – the coordinator called me and said, you know I’m really sorry but we can’t accept your bread anymore. Our people just don’t know what to do with that fancy bread. Since it’s an all or nothing donation, we will have to say “nothing”… Broke my heart – but I get where your coworker was coming from. Personally – i’m not one of “those” people but I was once before – and I had NO idea what to do with Quinoa, or that it even existed. What I can say is that I was so sick of soup and beans. Now I donate a lot more interesting items and snacks and cookies and treats for kids too!

Anjofy 6 months ago

A year ago, I needed to visit a food pantry, too. I needed to go twice to get through a very difficult time financially. It was the hardest, most humbling thing I have ever done. The food pantry I went to did not have healthy options. It was all processed foods. I was not in a position to be choosy, but it struck me that those in need did not have the ability to properly nourish their body. When I got home with my box of food, as I was unpacking I discovered a good 30 percent of the boxed and canned food items were expired, like very expired! This was such an awful experience. I had to throw away food that my family needed. And, it made me feel so small.

barbara 6 months ago

You have more class and grace than she could ever dream of.
for that, I feel very sorry for her. ( the wretch) and very glad for the kids you are raising.

Emily 6 months ago

I really hope that asshole reads this, sees herself and feels years and years of guilt and remorse and makes reparations by bringing good food to pantries.

Chelsea 6 months ago

If I didn’t use a food pantry, one week a month, EVERY month my daughter and I would go hungry. I try not to eat the canned stuff because its so high in salt, but our pantry has fresh stuff sometimes. I would have looked that woman right in her face and told her that she should watch who she’s talking to about “those people” because she’s talking to one right now. Shame is the only way to make the haves realize they only have by luck. “Those people” god, it sounds like 1939 Berlin, or 1850 South Carolina. I’m nauseous.

Casey 6 months ago

I have had to feed my family from a food pantry before. It was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life. And one of the most magical. The people there were amazing. Once our luck turned, I have made sure to make donations. And when we moved, I continue to send them a bit of money. Pay it forward.

Holly 6 months ago

I get this. I’m a single mother on benefits, my childs father is not involved. Even people i know will talk about single mothers on benefits with a disproving tone, then say oh but not you.
We are still normal people! When you go on benefits the dont issue you a new life to go with it to make it easier for others to recognise you for the obvious failure that you are.
I hope THOSE PEOPLE never need to ask for help.

Lore 6 months ago

Unfortunately, I can’t read all the thoughtful comments to make sure I am not duplicating, but one thing I think about is: don’t use a food drive to get rid of the stuff you’ve bought in error. Some of the things I have seen include cans of bamboo shoots, a bag of tumeric, and miso paste. Yes, some families getting food from the pantry can certainly enjoy those items, but there are energy, time and space costs for the food pantry to move and provide access to all their offerings. Be generous and also mindful about what would be most useful to the food pantry to try to help as many people as possible.

Belinda 6 months ago

I volunteer at a food pantry. We often get unusual food, and many of our clients don’t know what to do with it. They’ve never had the money to buy specialty items. But then there are those who are suddenly needy, on a temporary basis. They may recognize and use more “upscale” foods. It’s so great when we have a variety to offer.

pam 8 months ago

I’ve been one of ‘those people’ too, and around here, the people that shop at the food pantry that know what quinoa is, are definitely few and far between.

Eric 9 months ago

She probably meant black people.

Rae 1 year ago

…. Slow clap … Thank you for saying this. Exactly how you said it. Bravo to you… Though I admit being small and hateful enough to wish that you had given in to the shaking and screaming part….

Brenda 1 year ago

I too have been one of “those people”. I have worked from the time I was 14 paying taxes, but nearly two years ago at the age of 48 I fell and dislocated and broke my shoulder. My husband is disabled and I was not able to perform my job as a nurse after the injury. My employer would make no accommodations for my injury. My income was our main income and we were cut down to less than 1/3 of the income we were used to receiving. During the first few months my employer paid me for enough hours to ensure that my health insurance was paid, but it put us over the limit to receive any public assistance. Once the PTO time ran out we qualified for $160.00 per month in food stamps for myself, my husband and our granddaughter that we are raising. We were privileged to find out how the food pantries worked. I would go religiously to get food when we could because although I had a fairly stocked up pantry to begin with it was rapidly dwindling as we were unable to replace any items that we used. During the time off I went back to school to get an MSN so that I would be able to get a nursing position that didn’t require lifting as I was not sure when I would be able to lift again. After being off for a year I was able to get a part-time job that did not require me to lift.

During the time that I went to the food pantry I met a variety of people there. Some of those people were there just “using the system” but the vast majority of the people were people with situations similar to ours where some catastrophic event had occurred that left them unable to obtain enough food to feed their family. I too saw that there were foods that some would not take as one of the pantries regularly gave out a large amount of produce. Many of the people did not take the produce and most did not know what to do with the items that they did not take. I spent time talking to people and eventually began a ministry at our church teaching people to make meals for their family for around a dollar a serving. I tried to use many of the items that were frequently given out in the food pantries and even made an effort to take some of the produce that was typically given out and find recipes that used those items and have samples with recipes for people to try in addition to making the meal to take home. I was fortunate in that I had learned to cook at a young age and have never been afraid to try new recipes. With the internet it is easy to find a recipe for some food that I am not familiar. However, many people have not had the chance to learn these skills. My mother and grandmother were wonderful cooks and passed that skill along, but many people have not had the opportunities that I had. I felt like it was something I could share with others to help them be able to make the most of the items they could get at the food pantries.

When I went and was given produce many times they would ask me if I would take a case of whatever they were giving away. I never turned anything down. I also had skills at freezing and canning items which again is not a skill everyone possesses. I think that if more people could help “those people” develop some of those skills instead of judging them and being critical the world would be a better place. I know what it feels like to be one of “those people” and it isn’t easy to go to the food pantry for food, but it did get us through a rough place. I am just finishing my MSN next month and have a full time position lined up. I have been working part time for 9 months and have not had to go to the food pantry although my income is only 1/3 of what I was used to making. We have been very frugal and have been able to make it without the food pantry during that time. I was just thankful that there were places that helped us get through the roughest time. I hope that with my classes I might help at least a few people know how to make their food dollars go a little farther and I can give back some of what I took during our rough time. If everyone could work to make things a little better for someone else, our world would be a better place.

This article was a good article and you really truly never know when you might be talking with one of “those people”.

Ally’s Sweet & Savory Eats 1 year ago

I’m so glad this came across my news feed today – what a great read. I recently posted to my blog about our families journey to volunterring at the food pantry. I was truly changed by it. You just never know a persons situation….or if that could be you sometimes. Many, many people are just one paycheck away from visiting themselves. Thank you for the great awareness needed towards this subject.

lisa g 1 year ago

My family was in that position a few times when i was young. My dad would paint signs for the food shelter and theyd pay him in food. I thought it was awesome.

We had a food drive at work. There was a competition between departments to see who could raise the most. The rules were that only the most needed items would count towards the competition.

There were some people i my department complaining that they could get more packages of ramen for the price of on jar of peanut butter. I was so embarassed to call them coworkers. I went to a tirade about whow everyone deserves healthy food. Some looked at me lik i was a snob because i thought they should donate something better than noodles. Others tha had been in th position agreed with me and bought a variety of delicious food.

Annalee 1 year ago

This post hits home. Shaming comes in all forms and like the flu doesn’t have a prejudice on choosing its victims. We’re all guilty of judging at one time or another of feeling that sense of entitlement for “our tax dollars” and while a few may abuse the system, many of us never stop to think about how hard it is to ask for help until we’re the ones who needed it.

I happen to love quinoa.

Dale 1 year ago

I am not a mother (except to two cats – who eat better than I do!) but I have to say to this article RIGHT ON WITH YA BAD SELF! I just lurve (not a misspelling) what you wanted to say to that arrogant woman. I’m less concerned with politeness and probably would’ve said it out loud but that’s me.

I have been one of “those people” several times in my life and even without children it is humiliating to have to ask for help to feed yourself. At one point, I lost my condo, had to file bankruptcy and seriously considered dumpster diving after a serious illness and a car accident had me off work for eight and a half months. Had it not been for a couple of good friends I would have had to wheel myself into the street (I had a broken, surgically repaired leg, a broken hand and broken ribs and was confined to a wheelchair and couldn’t negotiate the stairs with my platform crutches for months). One friend, not well off herself and with a special needs son, brought two bags of groceries. The other helped me pay off immediate bills and get medical papers filed with utilities so I wasn’t sitting in the dark with my equally hungry cats.

Power and lots of light to all of us who have been and may still be “those people”.

Steve Ortner 1 year ago

All that Ignorance takes to spread is that no one takes the time to Correct a misconception!
If anyone were to take the time to explain civilly and calmly explain to her …
That there are no “Those People”, that they are not a sub species or some alien race , or a stray animal to be taken in . . . THEY are US, who now need some Help.
Perhaps she would be able to explain to others who see thing incorrectly and a great many more would join the cause.
Again, All that Ignorance takes to spread is that no one takes the time to Correct a misconception!

Cathy 1 year ago

Funny enough quinoa originated from South America. Many of these expensive fancy grains are from these countries. Now farmers want to sell to the first world countries and not to the people around them who depend on these grains.

As someone who is on SNAP I can tell you once you get assistance its hard to get out. Make a little too much and you get no money, hence none for food. So anything bill wise you normally spend your paycheck on goes for the food or the bills. Out of fear you stay under almost afraid to make more. Silly that we prefer people to fend for themselves but offer only jobs that pay nothing so they need assistance to survive and then punish them for making more money.

podhajska 1 year ago

I’m not sure where you’re getting your info, but good topic.

I needs to spend some time learning much more or
understanding more. Thanks for great info I was looking for this information for my mission.

CJ 1 year ago

For certain the woman with the folders misspoke when she used the term, “Those people.” It would have been more accurate to say, “the vast majority of food bank patrons”. I interned at a food bank and stayed as a volunteer for years while I was in undergrad. I worked a homeless outreach for years as well. I was a social worker for over 5 and now I am a teacher in a low income school. MOST (clearly not all) food bank patrons do not know what to do with the high – end food your school so lovingly donated. My comments are backed by not only my own experience but also vast research on “food deserts” and the lack of access to quality food in poor communities. I would watch clients toss out canned salmon or whole grain bread and demand peanut butter and jelly with white bread. They refused skim milk and wanted sugary drinks. Why? Well, when they had money this is what they would purchase! 1. It’s cheap. 2. It tastes good to them. When I worked in my first low income schools our Friday afternoon instruction time was interrupted by the food bank handing out bags of groceries to get our kids through the weekend: mac and cheese and other cheap food.

On a personal note: I grew up middle class until my mom became a single mother and at times we were on food stamps. It was humiliating for me. Sadly, I also became a single mother. I went back to the food bank occasionally because my pride would not allow me to apply for food stamps. Having served with the food bank and been served (literally) by them- there is no shame in my game. I often joke, “Don’t let my master’s degree and job title fool you. I DEFINE ghetto.”

Your reaction to your co-worker’s comments is actually pretty telling about your own biases. You are embarrassed to admit how much processed mac and cheese you served your kids. Really? Why? You and your kids are too good for the cheap quality food you got? You mentioned you like quinoa and defended your consumption of it while withholding from your co-worker information about its availability at the food bank. It’s almost like you identify with “those people” while holding their food choices in contempt. I want to be honest here: your reaction to her comments is totally your problem. She may sound ignorant when she judges food bank patrons, but you are ignorant of the story you are telling yourself here. Let go of whatever shame you have about your situation because as Kati said in an earlier comment, food security and poverty are on the rise for many, including those of us in the educated class. You are benefiting from the higher end food you can find at the food bank because no one else wants it. Enjoy it! Despise not your “bitch” of a co-worker because believe it or not, you are a food bank patron. You are letting your pride drive your reaction to her ignorant comments. Like the rest of us, you’re just doing whatever you need to in order to make the ends meet. Your kids are loved, housed, and fed. That, right there, is where you place your pride- not your ego.

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Maive 1 year ago

I grew up poor. The kind of poor they write novels and plays about. When I was 11, my family moved from our tiny island to the USVI. It was just American enough to be the land of opportunity without being to foreign. My mom got a job. It didn’t pay very well but it kept us comfortable. No more climbing trees to make a meal. I graduated high school in the top 25th percentile, drifted through college and got a job. I graduated in March, I had a job by April. I was making $20 an hr, more money than I’d ever seen at 1 time in my life. I wasn’t the thriftiest. Most of my money was spent on food. Not eating out or buying junk, just having enough to eat what I wanted when I wanted. I got a new apartment (after the lease ran out where I was staying before), furnished it with a mattress, and couple couches and and dining table I found on Craigslist. I started saving for a rainy day. I paid to become a citizen, to finally get an eye exam and a desperately needed new prescription. I indulged in perks like internet so I could work from home and cable so my roommate and I could bond over American Horror Story. I got a cell phone that worked. Then I lost my job. One day, I’m doing really well, the next, “We’re sorry. We’re just not doing as well as we used to. We have to let you go.” I was okay at first. I had some money saved up. But that started slowly drying up. I cut down expenses and sent out applications. Months pass and nothing. Last year I had people calling me up to offer me positions. This year, I can barely get an interview. I change my resume, my cover letter, my website, nothing. My roommate gets married, has a baby, moves out. I finally get a job. By then my savings are gone. But I’m working now. About 3 weeks in, the manager hires her son in law, a week later, there isn’t enough work to justify hiring me. I have an apartment, I have bills, I have no roommate, I have no job. I have no food, I have no money. Going home is no longer an option. My entire family is 4 hrs away by plane. Plane tickets cost money. That’s when I got foodstamps. People don’t know. Most people don’t get it. It can be anyone. You can be perfectly fine and still need help. You can dig and claw your way out of poverty and still need help. Sometimes life pushes you down, then kicks you while you’re down there.

Amanda 1 year ago

Ignorant woman. I was one of “those people.” When my son was born, I was laid off and on unemployment, WIC, and government healthcare. I got my food from a food bank, when I needed to eat. And I like quinoa, too.

rae 1 year ago

If it wasn’t for my parents we would have been a at a pantry a few times. Both high school grads. Things forced to me to a sahm and sometimes we really can’t afford it. My DF works 60 hours a week and we live in a nice area. But he had gotten hurt at work and we lost part of that income. We let our Netflix, phones, internet and all go to try and make up the difference. It didn’t work and we had lost our gas and electric for a while to. If not for my parents I’m not sure how my toddler would have eaten. There’s been many Times I didn’t eat so her and DF could. Her lunch was often ramen middle or hot dogs. Things happen and no matter how well educated you are how well you were doing it can throw you down. Just pray she never knows the feeling of going hungry.

Christine McNutt 2 years ago

What you are doing here is AWESOME!!! So many parents will have a happy and blessed Holiday because of what you are doing. It is so very difficult for those of us who are the working poor to ask for help. It’s frustrating and we feel like failures. But when the help is given to us, we are grateful beyond words. Keep doing what you are doing! (Btw, love love love your website!)

Virginia 2 years ago

I understand why you didn’t feel like “coming out” to this seemingly bigoted woman as one of “those people” during that conversation. But I wonder what would have happened if you had. I expect she would have apologized, and she probably would have learned something, too. Most of us have a blind spot somewhere. Maybe she’ll read this article instead, and learn something from it.

Thank you for sharing this painful experience. It was certainly valuable to me, and I’m sure to many others as well.

kc 2 years ago

What an ass hole.

Lynn 2 years ago

I have been one of those people
I have also been one who secretly helps those people. It really galls me to hear someone who has no idea what poverty is complain about the “moochers getting food stamps”. I live on a fixed income from the Social Security Administration. I received an $11 a month raise last January and had my food stamp allotment cut by $36 dollars. My costs for groceries and utilities have doubled, yet those people like me are constantly referred to as “takers”. I would like to take them out to the woodshed and give them the what for, but like you, I bite my tongue and pray foe them that they never have to chose between paying for your prescription that insurance won’t cover, or the cord of wood to put in your stove to keep warm. Thank you!

Stephanie Dillard 2 years ago

Many of us have been one of “those people” at some point in our lives. How rude and cruel people can be…. Every one needs a hand up once in awhile…

John Henry 2 years ago

I understand your point, and yes, it is a valid one to an extent. But,i think I might have sensed a bit too much defensiveness there. There are many people who would not have a clue what to do with some of the items you’ve mentioned. Some, not all, have been with kids, poor, and just trying to make it for most of their lives, and though they may have perfected ten different recipes which are variations on a theme of mac and cheese would have no idea what the heck to do with Roquefort, or brie, or any of a thousand different things that frankly are more about style than quantity. When you have a brood and little money coming in you really don’t care to serve six saltines with arugula and a slight smear of mascarpone on it and then send the little ones to bed hungry. When you have a limited income, then what “those people” are going to do is get the largest quantity for the least amount of money. It is called survival. And, “those people” have done that for most of their lives in quite a few instances. They do not hold to the Gwyneth Paltrow form of meal planning where each individuals’ dinner runs 50-100 dollars in food costs. They understand that there is only “x” amount of dollars on a given month for a food budget; they understand that leg quarters (caged up, force fed chicken leg quarters, not lovingly raised, free range, organic or any other foo foo term of the day) may in fact help them to have at least some form of protein on the table come dinner time. They may have to do this for years. They may not even remotely care whther something is gluten free, or hydroponically, organically grown when that means that for the cost of one “healthy” meal a weeks worth of food budget is shot. “Those people” would not know what to do with “artichoke hearts packed in seasoned oil, gluten-free crackers, olive tapenade….and quinoa”. They of course would be grateful and do what they could with it, but they would not know what to do with it. That is not meant in a derogatory sense towards “those people”, not at all. hey are doing all they can to survive. The lady that passed you in the hallway was quite correct for about half the people.

Brenda 2 years ago

Over the past year our family has had the privilege of being some of “those people”. I had an accident that made it unable for me to work. My husband is disabled, and I was the main source of income. For a short while (until my PTO ran out even though my employer was only paying me enough to cover my insurance premiums so I was actually taking home nothing) we did not qualify for food stamps. When we did qualify at the beginning we were receiving 100.00 a month for three people. (We are raising a granddaughter). While we started out with well stocked cupboards eating all our food out of them was depleting them very quickly. The only resource available to us was the local food pantries. We began going every time we were eligible to go which was once a month. There were two food pantries in our local area and occasionally they had a mobile food pantry that came to the area as well. At neither of the food pantries did we really get a choice in the food we were able to take. At the first food pantry they had you fill out a list, that you could choose items, but frequently, even though you filled out the list, they did not have the items on the list and substituted whatever items they did have on hand. The questionnaire had the number of people in the household and then you could circle how many cans/boxes (up to the limit) of the types of food available. They did not give out produce at that food pantry (well once or twice they had some apples that people could take if they wanted to in a bag). The other food pantry gave out a lot of produce and they had you move through and take what you wanted, although it was expected that you would take pretty much everything they offered as you went. They did give you some choices in the meat you chose (I never saw a whole chicken at any of the visits). This pantry that gave out the produce had a lot of people that did not take what was offered in terms of produce. While this was to my benefit (When I said I would take some zucchini for instance one month they asked if I would take a whole case of it. And another time they gave me a whole case of kabocha squash. A different time we left with two cases of bell peppers etc.) it saddened me to see that many people did not take the produce they offered. This was due to the fact that many of the people that did not take it did not know what to do with it and did not have the ability to store it for long term use. As I saw this happening I began to puzzle over it. God had already given me an idea in my mind that I should help to feed the hungry in our community, but I wasn’t exactly sure how that plan was to be played out. Over the months of going to these places and seeing this I found God’s plan for me in this area. When I got some new food that I was unsure what to do with it or even if I got something I recognized but wasn’t a food we typically ate, I would search out recipes to try and I became very creative developing recipes that would use the mismatched food that we acquired from these places. (Sometime the stuff they put in the box were next to impossible to figure out a semi-healthy meal to make from it.) I eventually went to our Pastor and explained the mission that God had called me to. I developed a class that is offered once a month at our church. I teach people to make meals for less than a dollar a serving and I try and incorporate many of the foods that would be things that the local food pantries routinely give out. I also bring to the class samples of some of the recipes that I have found for the unusual foods that would be given along with the recipes for them to take home so that when they are offered a case of avocados, they know that the only way to eat it is not guacamole for example and they will be able to take that and nourish their family. While these meals may not be the healthiest meals someone can prepare (using dark meat chicken instead of chicken breast because we got lots of leg quarters, but never a package of chicken breast) they are still healthier than a boxed food and the goal is to keep the meals at or under a dollar a serving for the entire meal. When I received large quantities of foods I was able to can/freeze much of it so that we would be able to use every last bit and have food while this extended time off work lasted. I am only recently employed again (my employer terminated me for being on medical leave too long) I still cannot return to the job I previously had and am only working part time which now disqualifies us for the assistance we were getting. However, over the summer I spent much of my assistance on produce that was marked way down and canned and froze enough food that we should be able to manage through this winter. I have also gone back to school to further my education so that I will be qualified for a job that I no longer have to lift as I am still unable to lift more than about 10 pounds. This has been a trial for us, but God has provided and our family has never been hungry even though there have been times we really did not get to make our own food choices. While it was at times humiliating, I do not believe I would have been aware of how rampant hunger was in our community or how unprepared many are to deal with making meals from the mismatched items that are frequently given to them. I am glad that God gave me the opportunity to meet and see these people and put this love in my heart for them to help them in learning creative ways to prepare the food that they have and to use the resources available to them in the best way to provide the healthiest meals possible on such a limited budget. This has been the best part of going through this process and I’m glad that I was able to see that it takes so little for any of us to be one of “those people” for me it was one wrong step and it totally changed my life as well as the life of my entire family.

Michelle Baker 2 years ago

Food banks and lockers are a wonderful stop gaps but truly don’t end the long term issues with poverty and food insecurities. The cost of food and the destruction of our economy have made this a serious national issue that must be addressed at the local. State and national levels. People need good secure jobs that pay a decent wage and allows families to feed their children. And yes I have been in this position and much worse, spent my entire childhood more often homeless then in a home.

Beth Rose 2 years ago

I have helped with food drives and hate when people bring in very expired food and think they are a hero for donating it instead of throwing it out. If you wouldn’t feed it to your family why would someone else?

Brie Urso 2 years ago

This made me mad. I am one of “those people”. Some of these comments made me mad too. Don’t assume that low income households going to food banks, don’t know how to cook. Don’t assume they don’t have woks or other cooking utensils. Our family was fine until I could no longer work. Other families are in the same boat losing an income that had helped. Not every low income family are uneducated about cooking and food. The reason why easy processed foods are eaten is because it’s what’s available and less expensive.

Joanna Garcia 2 years ago

may god be with yall and the people surfing

Melinda Brown 2 years ago

I wish she would have said something. Not mean, but taking the opportunity to spread some awareness

Carline R. Hooker 2 years ago

thanks for posting!

Linda Campbell 2 years ago

Until you have been, or have known, one of “those people”, you will never understand how it feels. Donating a little can help a lot. Local grocery stores often have bags that you can purchase for a couple dollars. They are stocked with basics that every family can use. If you want to be especially generous, donate tampons, dog food, cat food, paper products, etc. These are items that most people forget, but are necessary to most families.

Heather Hedstrom 2 years ago

Once a month I’m at a local food bank sorting food. I live in Silicon Valley. 1 in 10 of our neighbors here get help from the food bank via the 300+ partner organizations that receive food from them. 1 in 10! These are our local kids, seniors, families. Recently I had a colleague arrive from India. He saw the posters I have up in my cubicle about the food bank. He was floored that there is hunger in Silicon Valley. Floored. His image of the SF Bay Area is that we are affluent, that we all have what we need. Sad to have to tell him otherwise. Don’t just donate when there’s a food drive. Donate year round. Go help at your local food bank. Get involved. Help.

Stephanie Myers 2 years ago

I’ve been one of those people many times, people need help every now and then, even people who work their butts off

Shanna Jones Ross 2 years ago

I have to say that over the last few weeks of reading Scary Mommy I am so much more inspired and happy to know that I am not the only mom, woman or person to feel these ways! I love my kids my life and my husband and I
Am a better person for each of them and for everything that is written and posted on this site/blog! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being honest and putting it out there, no matter how bad it is! I ❤️u

Corinne Clark Stevenson 2 years ago

Oh Scary Mommy, I wish I could like this post a thousand times. I adore you! It is so very hard to admit that you need help and you feel so ashamed, but we Momma’s have to do what we have to do to feed our kids. One of these days when I’m not so strapped myself I will be helping to fill the shelves of our local Food Bank and do my part to help others.

Emily Blank 2 years ago

My confirmation kids will be trick or treating to fill our local food pantry up this year! I’m super excited!!! Praying the hearts of the community will be open to share the blessings God has given them!

Kaci McKeown Doane 2 years ago

The problem is the people who take advantage of wonderful programs like this. I too have been to the point of having to use food donations but a lot of people don’t want to give bc of selfish people who sell their food stamps to buy drugs then go to food pantries for their basic needs.

Elizabeth Samudio 2 years ago

Sending prayers Christine Warner. God bless you.

Sarah 2 years ago

Thank you for this post. That woman is very fortunate to have not needed to utilize a food bank. No one should have to justify needing help. We all go though ups and downs in our life. When we are in an up we give, when we are in a down we receive. The circle of life. I don’t care who you are everyone likes to have special food. How much mac & cheese and canned veggies can one family eat? 😛

Karen Phillips 2 years ago

Someone just asked on one of my other groups if they should donate 2 year expired cake mix because “I’m sure it would come out ok.” Um…please throw that away.

Kate Williams 2 years ago

I think the majority of us have been in that position at one point in time in our lives. It humbles you as a person & in turn we become those that donate more than just the basics. Because we as humans all want to be able to have the finer things.

Just remember that there are those that are blissfully unaware and those that are just plain ignorant!

Joseph Szarka 2 years ago

I wanted to take my whole troop there on a Tuesday morning. But that wouldn’t be right. So I just thanked them and told them the story. There, but for the grace of God, go I.

Beatrice Leavens Brown 2 years ago

Been there. Done that. Hubby had a work related accident. Unable to work for almost 3 years. We used it a few times in those 3 years. 3 kids and a minimum wage job. And yes, hubby volunteered before, during and after his accident. And yes, we made some good meals. Though there was never any meat unless it was canned. Yes, we donate, even during our toughest times, because there is always someone worse off than we are.

Joseph Szarka 2 years ago

My wife’s Girl Scout troop collects food for the local food band every year. I get to participate by driving the girls through the neighborhood to collect the donations from door steps. I get to help drop it off on a Saturday when the bank is closed.
Then I organized a collection with my Boy Scouts, separate from the BSA Thanksgiving drive. The boys raised money flea marketing and then shopped. It’s a small troop, it wasn’t a lot. It wasn’t enough to have the bank open on a Saturday to receive it and the two hundred dollar check.
I had to go when the bank opened on a Tuesday morning. I arrived a few minutes early, I was trying to get to work. The line was out the door already. Dressed in business attire with a tie, I walked past the line outside, down a long hallway of filled chairs and the looks and found the office. The lady inside says “excuse me sir, you’ll have to wait in line.” Already rattled, I started to say “No, I’m not here for …..” And she asks with a friendly smile, “haven’t been here before?” And try’s to hand me paperwork to fill out. I finally pull out the check and say I have food donations in my car. The small staff light up and rush to my aid.

Windy Paneto 2 years ago

I am one of those people…as a mother survival mode kicks in and I will swallow my pride and do what I need to do for my children.. but it is not easy and it never comes w/o a price! I will make it to the other side and make sure I can give back to those people…survivors

Sarah Gregory 2 years ago

I’ve been one of “those people” before. I’ve eaten nothing but toast for weeks straight so my husband and children could eat what food we had. I’m forever grateful for any help we’ve received, and do my best to give back. I never judge another person that needs help.

Erin Bielecki 2 years ago

There’s so much one can do with quinoa!! Anything you would use rice in.

Linda Jayne Spray 2 years ago

I have no idea what to do with quinoa!

Erin Bielecki 2 years ago

I love this story. I still quote it. “I like quinoa.”

Rose Mallow 2 years ago

Can I get copi

Christine Warner 2 years ago

I’m also one of “those people” but the application process is closed at the moment so I pray that I’m able to get in once they open it back up. You see just a few months ago I received a call that my daughter hadn’t picked up my 18 month old granddaughter from the babysitters. Well she ended up showing up at my house, battered and bruised, and hysterical. She was abused by her boyfriend. She was at the time 9 months pregnant. He strangled her and assaulted her terribly. I had NO idea she was being abused throughout her pregnancy. Well he was charged, arrested and she has a restraining order. In the meantime he and his family took ALL of her belongings including all the children’s also. SO with a week before the baby was born we had to try and find help to get her and the babies clothes and other needed items. I don’t make much over minimum wage and have been a single mom for many years so I wasn’t able to assist financially but of course they are now living with me. The baby was born a healthy almost 8 pounds… well a few weeks ago he started having some problems and it was discovered he had some abnormalities with his heart. He had heart surgery a week and a half ago and has been in the hospital’s pediatric ICU for over three weeks now due to some complications. I stayed with my daughter at the hospital for almost 3 weeks and I am so far behind on my bills that I am scared. There isn’t any help either, the hospital social worker insisted we set up a donation page, so we did but I don’t have any family other than my girls so the help has been slow. So I am one of “those people” and would so very much like to have my family together at the table for Thanksgiving because I am SO VERY THANKFUL that they are all here and safe…. I pray it opens back up soon!!

April Sumner 2 years ago

eh she is technically right. A lot of lower income people lack cooking skills. There have been studies proving that. They mostly go for convienence food and that is also why there is an obesity problem associated with low income families. Heck I don’t know what to do with half of that stuff either and if my husband lost his job and we needed food bank food, I would not know what to do with that stuff either. I think you need to chill out. I doubt she meant it in a mean way but more of a practical way.

    April Sumner 2 years ago

    or maybe she did mean it mean, I have no idea. I do know I don’t donate hard to prepare or fancy food to food banks just because I would hate for someone to get something they don’t have the skills or cooking tools to prepare. You have to keep in mind often lower income people can’t afford woks or lots of cooking utensils and pans and pots etc. They might be working with limited means. So I donate easy to prepare stuff. I can’t cook with a flip either so I would be in that same position.

Soul 2 years ago

It…Hurts for me to go in to one of “those” places. I always feel so ashamed, because I know there are people who need it A LOT more than me and mine. But I have to swallow that pride. I can look right now and see a few days worth of meals in my cabinets. But that won’t last. And there are four adults and two children in this house. One who can eat grown-up food but still wears diapers, and then my own daughter, who doesn’t even get the concept of holding a bottle just yet. In a few days, I’m gonna have to suck it up and stand in line at the pantry, or the Salvation Army, just to try and feed us, because out of us four adults? One is working.

My husband just got fired from his $10/hr job with 36 and 48 hours a week…That hit hard. And there are so many bills, some we could live without, of course. But this month we have to skip on my car insurance. We have to skip on one of our phones, because this poor roommate of ours has a meager job. We may not be able to pay our stuck-in-a-two-year-contract DirecTV bill. We had to skip paying storage. And now, I HAVE to find the time to go clear it out before the owner of the facility takes all of our things. It stings, being in this predicament. But I have to grin and bear it while we look for work.

I’m GRATEFUL to have “those” places to turn to, even though I feel like there are people far more needing than me and mine…Any person who doesn’t understand that feeling, or look down on “those” people, can take their high horses and shove them up their arses, sans lube. :/

claire 2 years ago

4years ago, I was a head teacher. In a private school, 8yrs into a marriage with an abusive man with a well paid job. Within a year, I had a baby, my husband left, I discovered he had spent all of our savings, then lost my job because I started speaking out about what he had done to me and our daughter. For safety reasons, we also had to leave our home. Every day, I am aware that it is only by the grace of God, the generosity of family and friends, and an excellent welfare system that allows me to take physical care of my daughter. Life turns around quickly. The lady with the folder could very well be mere weeks away from being one of “those people”

Karen Duff 2 years ago

Ignorant sums up “that person”. I don’t know if food banks were available maybe 40 years ago but I remember my dad, god bless him, “taking without paying” tins of food to feed me and my brother. No one knows what each person is having to go through. Don’t judge what you haven’t experienced xxxxx

Lily Carter 2 years ago

I am one of “those people”… a single Mom with a 4 month old. I work, I go to school, I breastfeed my daughter, and I cringe when I hear people talk about people like me. On public assistance, trying to do what needs done to get off it, and still falling short on groceries. I didn’t ask for my situation, but I won’t listen to that kind of prejudice.

I’m grateful for the help I get from family and friends, and the food banks. Yeah, I’m a bit embarrassed, but I can’t afford to not go. Even a nursing mom has to eat to keep making milk! And I didn’t know what quinoa was until this thread, but I can Read!

Those people…. /sigh

Bethany 2 years ago

I am one of THOSE people. I remember a few times, my mom having to go to Food Share. It was humbling. As a mother myself, we have had to use WIC and Church Food Assistance through our church. It’s hard being one of THOSE people. But, I am humbled, grateful, appreciative, blessed. I will lower my pride to keep my children from starving.

Rachel Phillips 2 years ago

Very moving article. X

Beverley Anderson Romer 2 years ago

Good to hear the real side of needing help.

Michelle Smith-Pimentel 2 years ago


Stephanie Dixson Adams 2 years ago

The best way to give is anonymously because it ensures you’re giving for the right reasons, and give what you might want to receive.

Mande Sumner 2 years ago

Thank you for this! I’ve never been one of “those people,” but da*n if I haven’t been close. Going from $150k a year to losing quite literally everything and making $35k almost sent us to the food shelf. Because of that, and because I’ve learned to coupon, the food shelf near us (and those who use it) get not only a load of staples, but lots of “fancy” food too. I donate gluten free, nut free, dairy free and even low fat and high fiber because you NEVER know the dietary restrictions of people that make use of the food shelves. Shame on anyone who thinks that way about people who are in a time of need. Makes me wonder if maybe SHE wouldn’t know what to do with quinoa!

Christina Merrell 2 years ago

I did and thanks for the repeat!!!

Jaggi 2 years ago

I was “one of those” kids. My single mother of five made too much money at her housekeeping job to get assistance like food stamps so it was a mega struggle to keep everyone fed at least once a day. I am the oldest so i went to the food bank with her often. I stopped eating lunch because i thought it would help. We weren’t eligable for free lunch at school so my mom had to scrape up lunch money for my siblings and i so i as one of those people are forever grateful of the kindness of the donations of strangers who thought pumpkin pie filling is not food

Amanda Martine Gates 2 years ago

These kinds of stories make you thankful for what you have and want to help others even more, even if you don’t have a lot.

Jenna Slye 2 years ago

Because I am who I am, I would have said, “actually, I AM.”

Sarah O’Connor Raley 2 years ago

So those people don’t deserve better than canned soup and canned tuna? So basically she’s saying ‘poor’ people only know crappy instant food. Isn’t there a huge issue with getting healthy food to those in need? What a privileged thing to say!!

Claudia Sinnott 2 years ago

Thank you. It brought tears to my eyes because I was the “those people” at one point

Abigail Christ 2 years ago


Donna Wicker 2 years ago

How sad that people can be so narrow minded.

Vanessa Hahn 2 years ago

Yikes, what a naive woman.

Lisa Ann Heintz-Hajdu 2 years ago

…bless us oh Lord & these thy gifts which we are about to receive. ..amen!

Tosha Gray 2 years ago

I’ve been one of “those” people… I grew up being one of those people. I remember the basket of food and donated toys I got as a little girl for Christmas. I remember kraft dinner every other day and half cups of milk with one meal the rest of the time it was water. During my teen years when I left home I ate at soup kitchens and the only food in my room was from a food bank. I pray every day that my husband and I will be able to alway provide for our girls. I know the shame of going to school with donated food

Michele 2 years ago

I am one of “Those people,” too using our local food pantry for quite a while over a number of years. I finally had to bite the bullet a year and a half ago and was the recipient of food stamps for a year’s time. Thankfully things have improved. I remember going into the local grocery store with a voucher from the local Dept. of Social Services for a $50 gift card that was being held at the store for me. As I waited (in a state of complete embarrassment) for the cashier’s assistant to retrieve it from the Customer Service Desk, the lovely teenage/early 20 yr old cashier asked me what I did to get the gift card, did I donate to DSS or something? She thought I must have donated, so I got a gift for that. I was so taken aback and kindly just told her that I didn’t think it was any of her business. I felt bad for saying it, but I was mortified. You see, I guess I don’t “look” like “those people.” Whatever “those people” are supposed to look like. The face of hungry people has changed. I own my own home (well, the bank has my mortgage), I have a job, 4 children and a husband. I have a car payment and 4 animals who remind me everyday that I’m loved. Thank you for writing this piece. You hit the nail right on the head!


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