Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"Applying for food stamps/compare/contrast"

I'd like to share with you my experiences with the whole food stamp process since I've been living in c.c. (carroll county)

One of the first things I saw was a brochure here at the library entitled: APPLYING FOR FOOD STAMPS, IS IT WORTH IT?

This brochure was put out by the Legal Aide Society. The message of the brochure was: "we think it is worth it"

So, I went to the website to learn the process here. Do I need an appt? What do I need to bring with me? I checked the legal aide brochure for food stamp office addresses and there were none. When I went to the website I sought answers to the above questions. I got no answers. It did not say what you need to bring, whether you need an appt, nothing really. So I called the phone # listed for Food Stamps. The phone rang off the hook. My neighbor said, you better bring lots of quarters because you have to pay to park. That worries me. Maybe I don't have enough quarters. Will I have enough money for gas to go 20 miles? How many repeat trips will I have to make.

I find a phone # for the director of Food Stamps. he says show up anytime before 4:30. I think, that's strange, usually they tell you to come first thing in the morning. Today, I arrived at 3:15, and saw an empty parking lot with no signs indicating that I'd be towed. But I'm concerned anyway. I start walking around trying to figure out why I dont' have to pay for parking. I realize that even though it is a vacant lot, you still need a permit.

I start asking people where the bldg. is. It's that brick bldg. they tell me. But the brick bldg. only has painted insignias from 50 years ago, nothing indicating that it is a social service office. I find a free place to park, but no door welcoming me in. I ask a man out back how to get into the bldg. Just walk that way he says. I do. I encounter high fences and woods and I see no way of physically entering the bldg. I walk and walk and finally find the bldg. The man in the park. lot says it's on the 3rd floor.

I finally find the bldg. I go to the elevator. I ask 2 female patrons, where is the food stamp office? One says, 1st floor, one says 2nd floor, and the man outside said 3rd floor. I eventually figure out that it's on the 1st floor.

I enter the office. There is the receptionist desk. There is no one there. I wait almost 5 minutes and no employees say a word to me. There are 3 other glass encased booths, one of those employees saw me but did not invite me over. Eventually I asked her where I need to go. She said " any of us it doesn't matter"

"We can't take your case today because it's after 3. We'll have to call you in the morning"

E-"I have no phone" Can you email me? (Knowing good and well that social services is still in the 19th centure)

clerk-No, we don't email people.

E-"Then what should I do?"

clerk-"Fill out this form and bring it back to me"

I do that. It asks for a phone #. When I bring it back to her I worry that she'll lose it. She says she'll date stamp it and that I need to come back again in the morning. That's another 20 mile trip. Then after I come back tomorrow, they will set up another appt...................................


It wasn't safe to take the bus to north avenue, and there was nowhere to park. One gets especially nasty treatment if the are a white minority. North Avenue is one of the most dangerous sections of baltimore city. I decided it wasn't worth the abuse and the risk. When I used to go there, they would metal scan you for weapons only if they thought you looked dangerous.

At least I'm not in danger at the carroll county office, and know I won't be discriminated against.

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