If you are dependent on food stamps...

If your food stamps matter to you, make sure you get a recertification appointment before they expire.

I was supposed to be recertified in December. I never got a letter or call. I called my social worker repeatedly and left messages. I never heard back. Come January, I had no food stamps.

My case worker was in the down town office, but that's a bit of a stretch for me now that I am in the North County. It took me a few days to find the North County food stamp office (the link has been added to the site, after I verified the address by going there in person). I got there last week and was advised that because they had lapsed, I would have to reapply. So I did so.

On the day I reapplied, I had less than a $100 in resources and I and another family member have a life threatening medical condition. I was advised I did not qualify for expedited services (which means a decision within three days). I re-stated that I have a deadly medical condition and I am nearly out of money, what does it take to qualify for expedited services? They had me fill out more paperwork to try to get me expedited. It's been more than three days. I still have not gotten a phone call or email and I don't yet have an appointment for an interview.

One person at the office told me very callously that because I am homeless and unemployed, I have time to come in. Oh, sure. I walk everywhere, which takes quite a lot of time (four or more hours of my day, on normal days when I am not running off to the food stamp office). Most of the time, I can't afford bus fare. I spend all my time dealing with my medical condition and trying to earn a few bucks doing freelance work and that type of thing. Plus, it took me several days to find their address. This was all very challenging. And some of the folks who work there have zero understanding and zero sympathy.

So, in short, it is on you to make sure your recertification appointment happens. If it doesn't, the folks at the food stamp office don't seem to care if you starve, even if that may lead to serious medical bills. If you do not get an appointment, I strongly suggest you go in before they are expired and try to remedy it then. Otherwise, you start this nightmarish bureaucratic application process all over and it can take weeks to get it resolved. Please learn from my mistakes and don't put yourself through this. I am still trying to figure out how to not starve the rest of this month.