Skip Nav
Kid Shopping
These Are the 32 Books From Your Childhood That Your Kids Should Have
This Birth Photographer Shares the Most Memorable — and Jaw-Dropping — Photos From Her 100 Deliveries
These Father-Daughter Illustrations Are Sweet Enough to Make a Grown Man Cry

Moms on Food Stamps

How One Mom Ended Up Picking Up Food Stamps in Her Mercedes

Mortgage payments, twins on the way, and absolutely no income. While this may sound like the plot of a movie, it was reality for Darlena Cunha. In 2008, things were running smoothly for the then television producer. Her boyfriend had proposed, they bought a house, and were expecting a set of twins.

Then came a series of unexpected speed bumps. Darlena's fiancé was handed the dreaded pink slip, and the babies arrived six weeks early. Darlena was forced to switch to formula when her twins struggled to gain weight. She and her fiancé had to dive into, and quickly drain, their savings to pay for the "$15 per can" meals. With a combined yearly salary of $25,000 — a figure that was once in the six digits — Darlena was drowning.

So, she did the only thing she could to keep her family afloat. She registered for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. Having come from a, "white, affluent suburb," Darlena never thought she would find herself using food stamps. But worse than handing the cashier her coupons was the judgment she received from others. She writes in the Washington Post:

The stares, the faux concern, the pity, the outrage — I hated it. One time, an old, kind-looking man with a bit of a hunch was standing behind me with just a six-pack of soda, waiting to check out. The entire contents of my cart were splayed out on the conveyor belt. When he noticed the flash of large white paper stubs in my hand, he touched me on the shoulder. I was scared that he was going to give me money; instead he gave me a small, rectangular card. He asked me to accept Jesus into my heart so that my troubles would disappear. I think I managed a half-smile before breaking into long, jogging strides out of there, the workers calling after me as to whether I still wanted my receipt.

Darlena and her husband eventually regained financial stability, but not without encountering more judgmental stares and cruel comments. For Darlena's entire experience, read her story on the Washington Post.

Source: Flickr user beroth

Join The Conversation
MrsB86 MrsB86 3 years

So, I read this story out loud to my husband this morning and the further I got into this article the more angry I got. Embarrassing?! What about the girls who got pregnant and truly believed their child's father would be there because he told her that he loved her? That's embarrassing. For me it was, anyways.
A mother's worst nightmare?! Really? When I think of a mother's worst nightmare, I think of finding out my child has some terminal illness. Finding out they need chemo and then, watching their little bodies and faculties deteriorate. Watching them lose their hair and having to hear them cry because they can't go out with other kids. Hearing them use medical terms they should never know. Seeing how tired they are. I think of my child being kidnapped and harmed. I think of my kids coming to me and telling me they've been molested or raped. I think of completely losing my home. I think about those women who come home to find out that their husband/boyfriend went on a horrific rampage and killed their child. I think of daycare teachers hurting/drugging my children. I think of getting a call from the police because my kids school has been shot up and they were either killed or the one who did the shooting. I think of being in a horrific accident and my child passing while I live. THESE are a mother's worst nightmares. I'd hardly call temporarily needing government assistance embarrassing, let alone a mother's worst nightmare. Whatever though.

ChristinaGarrett1372153230 ChristinaGarrett1372153230 3 years

Us moms need thicker skin. It is very humbling to go through something like this. People are going to look down on you if you are on food stamps or if you've just paid off your home. Certain people will always try to find some reason not to like you from your skin color to your car to your hair to your children and on and on. Ignoring ignorance does wonders. God has allowed us to have these precious babies and live this life and we will make it. Giving your life to God is the best thing a person can do because He really does make life better. I am a living testimony of that. I'm a single mom and I'm almost done with my degree in Business all thanks to God. It wasn't easy but God made it possible and He answered my prayers and blessed me. If we run to Jesus Christ, He is there with open arms. I wouldn't be alive today if it were not for Him and now I'm so happy and I live a very peaceful life. :)

MrsB86 MrsB86 3 years

So why exactly am I feeling sorry for her? Because she was a white woman with financial stability and all of a sudden she wasn't? Yes they absolutely should have gotten rid of their Mercedes, even if it was already paid off. I had a 95 Saturn that lasted me until 2008. I paid $1200 when I first got it and never made a single payment on it and it lasted over 10 years. So what's her excuse for keeping a fancy car? And the house? You downsize. Or you can have a friend/family member move in and help with bills. I have done this as well. Yes, she is right. When you lose your job, your first thought is to get another job. But when it's been months and you have babies, especially two, you get rid of unnecessary things. You downsize. I'll be honest, I understand that it must have been hard for her but I find it highly insulting that she is complaining so much about this. It was probably the best thing to happen to her. She never would have thought twice about the young women who have to use these programs had she not had to use them herself. She may have even been one of those giving "faux concern" looks.
I don't know what to make of this article. As someone who was a single mother at 15 and a single mother of 2 at 17 I never needed this kind of help. And I wasn't one of those teenagers who just left my kids at my parents' house either. I worked and I stayed in school. Yes, I had family who would help occasionally, especially my big brother but it was never too much that I couldn't pay them back if I needed to. And clothes were hand me downs. Car seats were hand me downs that weren't too old. I didn't go out unless my parents had absolutely nothing to do and were willing to babysit. I missed my prom, I even missed my graduation ceremony.
I just get the feeling that this woman thought she was too good to experience this kind of situation.

Heather60306 Heather60306 3 years

hmm am I mistaken or did they say she had WIC not food stamps? They are different programs. I was never ashamed to use WIC or have state health coverage. Both I and than boyfriend, now husband worked and paid taxes, why shouldn't we use something we had already paid for, and continued to pay for, with our taxes? I was only treated badly one time and it tainted the memory of my ultrasound with my first daughter. The ultrasound tech, a young woman, maybe slightly older than me, kept talking down to us. Excuse me for looking younger than my age and having the state health plan. Heck at that point I had probably the same amount of education she did, being in college full time and being only a few credits shy of getting my Bachelor's degree. I never had food stamps but if I had qualified I would of used them gladly.

theresa1395545266 theresa1395545266 3 years

I know this feeling. Between my husband and I we were bringing in a income of almost $2000 a week. Then my husband got hurt at work and was talking out of work by his Dr and at that same time I returned to school (which I was already registered for). My husband only received 12 weeks of short term disability and when that ran out so did my faith. No income, can't pay the bills. With 2 new cars, mortgage payment and a 11 yr old, what could we do?
We're now using food stamps and receiving cash asst. As soon as my husband's workers comp settles and I'm back at work, it's over, I'm done. I refuse to live off county welfare. It's not to be ashamed of but we're both hard workers. My husband's a blue collar worker and I'm a CNA.

Stranger's Kindness Toward a Mom and Child at McDonald's
Baby Born During a Gentle C-Section
Boy With Amputations From Meningitis Takes First Steps
Mom's Selfies With Ileostomy Bag
From Our Partners
Latest Moms
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds