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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Our Family Survived Being Poor-No Food Stamps or Nanny State

Poor Man Survival

Self Reliance tools for independent minded people…

ISSN 2161-5543

A Digest of Urban Survival Resources

How Our Family Survived Being Poor Without Food Stamps or the Nanny State

How I grew up without government breakfast, lunch, food stamps or the Nanny State & Survived!


In response to a woman on twitter who is bemoaning the fact that during the government shutdown, government schools might not be feeding children breakfast and lunch I mentioned how churches, food banks and charities in our community banded together to provided extra food to those who needed it, providing distribution even on Saturday mornings at our high school.  Our community newspaper published a schedule of daily free food distribution and reinforced the message that food stamps were NOT being stopped and indeed the Feb ’19 distribution was already included in their SNAP card.

This wasn’t good enough for this woman who publicly chided me saying these children were victims of food insecurity.  I told her I grew up poor – BEFORE food stamps existed and lived on tomato soup, powdered milk and peanut butter sandwiches, wore hand-me-down clothes… that my mother was a child of the Great Depression who took in laundry and cut hair in her kitchen to make ends meet.  Apparently, that didn’t impress her as she never responded.

To this day I gag at the thought of mac n cheese or tomato soup!  I still recall my mother arm wrestling angry squirrels who squatted in the backyard and scolded Mom over who had the rights to our apple and pear tree!  I swear their offspring live in our yard today scarfing food from our birdfeeders and nut trees.

Today’s “poor” usually have expensive cell phones, autos [we had one car, an old one which constantly needed repair], big flat screen TVs, get their hair and nails done, get food stamps, ADC, WIC, Section 8, heating assistance, etc. – all handouts my mother never received [I still have vivid, disturbing memories of my mother crying when the electric was shut off and she called my Dad on our ‘party line’ to inform him].

We were fortunate that had an apple tree in the back yard and many of our neighbors had gardens.  My mother would trade haircuts or laundry work for some of their produce and our neighbor, who was better off, frequently gave us clothing.  There was little stigma attached to being poor as pretty much everyone on our street was in the same boat-White, Syrian, Italian, etc.  [By the way, no one ever bitched and moaned about the others ethnic heritage].

Our elementary schools didn’t offer breakfast and lunch programs in those days.  We did get a snack usually consisting of a carton of milk and an apple in kindergarten and brought our sack lunch in later years.  It wasn’t until I entered junior high that we had a cafeteria and I do recall they offered programs for low-income students but it was kept quiet so no one could make fun of those students.  Still, the majority of kids brought their own lunch.

As we became teens and more self-sufficient and found part time jobs of our own [each in our family bought their own school supplies and clothing by this stage] my mother found outside work at an area hospital as LPN and then for our family doctor and eventually, our family achieved the American Dream of Middle Class.  Never during our “poor” years did we feel stigmatized or disadvantaged by not having help from the Nanny State.  In fact, our mother, as a child of the Depression represented a tremendous role model to each of us in terms of hard work. 

Each of us grabbed part time jobs at a young age to earn extra cash for the things we wanted such as our first auto or summer trips and the like.

By the 1960s LBJ launched his anti-poverty program in America and soon millions of citizens discovered they were “poor.”  Food stamps and government cheese were distributed -and corruption as our nightly news began airing scenes of so-called ‘welfare queens’ who had fraudulently declared several ‘ghost’ children in order to collect more welfare dollars and food stamps were hauled off to jail- to what became a multi-generational system.

As my mother and others in her neighborhood [who had by now achieved, through their own bootstraps, a Middle Class status] openly discussed, welfare seemed to breed welfare and their thinking was it fostered a growth in out-of-wedlock children with multiple fathers, not good for a strong central family…perhaps “ if the government stopped providing payments after the first child that would make these women re-think having more children which they could not support?”

Of course, today the Progressives would somehow label that racist thinking.  How dare we limit the number of illegitimate children that taxpayers subsidize!

Later in life I learned valuable lessons about storing up at least a year’s worth of food and cash from Mormon friends I met in Mesa, AZ and that practice led to the creation of our Poor Man web pages and philosophy.

Freedom. Self-Reliance. Action.


Special Offer for our Readers

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Yours for smarter living,

Bruce ‘the Poor Man’



Additional FREE Resources

Every day, people clean out their garages or attics and give away things they don't want, completely unaware that many of the items they donate are valuable to preppers.


These items end up in secondhand stores and can often be purchased for a fraction of what they would cost new. You just have to be patient and search. Here you'll find a list of items you should look for, especially if you're a prepper on a budget.


1. Boots - These are expensive brand new, but you can often find them for under 10 bucks a pair in thrift stores. They don't have to be pretty, but you do want them to be water tight. Inspect the boots and look for tears in the sole. You can always buy shoelaces and waterproof spray. Having several pairs of boots stashed away ensures you'll always have a dry pair to put on...



More notes of interest…


Living Frugally In Suburbia
You live differently than your neighbors.



14 Frugal Food-Rescuing Tips from Grandma
These depression-era frugal tips still work today!


8 Simple Ways to Put More Money in Your Pocket
Have more money without working harder!



Knowing When and How to Stockpile Groceries
Stocking up could save your grocery budget!



Emergency Preparedness on a Budget 
Affordable ways to prepare for an emergency.


Develop a Well-Rounded Prepper Library

When the topic of a prepping library comes up, what do most people talk about? Chances are the U.S. Air Force survival manual,  SAS survival manual, Army Field Manual 21-76, or something from Ragnor Benson.


When people get into prepping they typically start with stockpiling, then may gravitate towards self-sufficiency. For example, someone may start off with stockpiling canned goods, then move towards mylar bags and freeze dried foods, then finally arrive at prepsteading, farming, and gardening.

Most people who live in the suburbs can have a small garden, maybe some laying hens, and fruit trees. This allows just about anyone to grow some of their own food.

As preppers progress from stockpiling to prepsteading, shouldn’t their library also progress?

Chances are a lot of preppers do not have a single book on gardening, homesteading, canning and preserving food… etc. Even less will have books on literature, science, and math.

If we are prepping for a complete collapse of society, shouldn’t we also stockpile books for future generations? If something were to happen today – plague, nuclear war.. etc – what types of books would the reader have on hand to teach their children, or grandchildren?

What good does it do to survive the next plague, nuclear war… if future generations do not have access to resources?  This means real books made from paper and not electronic books for e-readers.

Why real books?

·         A real book can be dropped, and dropped several times without damage.

·         Real books do not require electricity.




You’ve got 2 hours until disaster strikes. Are you prepared?

If you’ve watched any apocalyptic movie ever, you’re familiar with the grocery store scene. You know which one I’m talking about. Anxious dad rushes isle by isle gathering water and canned food for his family while everyone around him gradually turns from innocent customer to aggressive looter.

At my little farmstead, we have used tarps in gardening, to cover wood, as a shade area for our chickens, and to protect our outdoor equipment. Tarps are very useful and when you invest in the higher quality types, they last! Read more and make sure you you add these to your preparedness supplies!


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A Smoking Frog Feature, Shallow Planet Production



Mike said...

Wow-didn't know life in the USA existed before welfare! You sure are right though. A lot of 3rd world nations [which is why all those Central Americans are scrambling to sneak into this country] see our welfare system as the mother lode & Democrats encourage them with promises of milk n honey in order to secure their lifelong allegiance/votes all at taxpayer expense-no wonder they are fighting border security!

Stephanie said...

The old saw about if you live on welfare you'll probably die on welfare applies here & as the documentary about LBJ & his Great Society showed, his goal at creating a welfare class among Blacks was to make them dependent on Democrats to ensure votes...they are trying to do the same with illegals.

Sam said...

Saw this on Twitter-terrific piece. Good golly, how did people manage before government handouts? Right on brother!

Stephanie said...

Great piece-we have too much government and instead of a help, it has become an expensive burden costing us an arm and a leg and making Americans less independent...perhaps that is why they call it the nanny state.

Yvonne said...

Right on so many levels!