Biting the bullet to use stamps

“How will you be paying?” the cashier asks.

The grocery store cashier has just finished scanning your order and the time to pay has come. What will you do?

You have three options. You can scrounge your pockets for money you know isn’t there.

You could scan the credit card that is maxed-out or the debit card that is overdrawn.

Or you could bite the self-imposed bullet and pull out your Electronic Benefits Transfer card, easily pay and go on about your day.

There are many people who are afraid or ashamed of other people finding out they rely on food stamps.

When I was younger I found the thought of relying on government assistance unsettling, though I knew there was nothing wrong with it.

But after seven semesters at FAMU, I have learned that pride can sometimes be my downfall. And it still is.

The amount of food stamps for which I might be eligible might not be a lot. But I will still be able to eat a real meal instead of fried Spam, cheap cookies and grape juice.

According to the Department of Children and Families, students can receive food stamps more easily than they may believe.

Among the requirements, students must be enrolled full time in a university of higher learning, be United States citizens, work at least 20 hours a week and in most cases, must not live with their parents.

Anyone worried about having to declare themselves as independent should know that only the student’s income is considered and not their parents’.

Anyone can check out the rest of the requirements and apply for food stamps online at

The DCF said that as of Oct. 1, 711 students in Leon County use food stamps, so it amazes me that people still feel apprehensive about whipping out their card, using their hand to cover most of it and pretending it is a debit card.

What surprises me even more is how other people react to people who use food stamps. I cannot be mad at anyone who used the system to save some money.

I see countless numbers of young people who use their EBT cards knowing that they will be able to use the money they would have used on food on something else like rent, utilities, gas, or car payments.

I am not on food stamps. With a process that seems this simple, I do not know why I have not taken advantage of this system yet.

With the money that I still owe Progressive, City of Tallahassee, my bank, car company and apartment complex, I figure soon I’ll swallow my pride and take a hand-out.

Brandon D. Oliver is a senior magazine production student from Palatka. He can be reached at