Should You Be Ashamed of the Food Pantry

by Bill on March 23, 2012

The Checkout LineOdd question, but this is something that was brought up by some people who where in line at a local food giveaway. Yes, I go to food giveaways and food pantries once a month because I can’t afford not to at the moment.

Am I ashamed of it? The question should be am I ashamed of getting food, or of being seen as needing help getting food. The answer is no. To both sides.

Here’s why:

  • I don’t have the resources currently to make life work where I don’t need help
  • I am still finding a way to provide for myself, a roommate and her child
  • I am taking advantage of resources being made available. I’m not panhandling, begging or stealing food from others.


I am not on disability, nor am I completely unemployed; actually as Anne Wayman wrote awhile ago on this blog, I’d be underemployed. I’m still figuring out how to fix that. The reason for the need was a rough skid to the end of 2011 causing a rougher start on 2012. I’m not proud of it, but I am not shying away from that fact either.

If it comes down to deciding on paying the rent or food, rent gets paid and I go look for food. If it comes to paying the electric or food, part of the electric gets paid and I may not need as much food. If it comes to a computer or food, the computer goes back and I buy food. That’s my logic.

But why should people be ashamed of needing help? Why does it feel like a burden to need food? You should see some of the people I come across – many of them are elderly or actually disabled. Where the hell are the people who are supposed to be looking out for them? Yet I see faces where they are actually ashamed of being there. Who failed who?

Yes there are those around who seek out free food and other things just to get freebies when they don’t need it. I see those people at the food banks and giveaways too. The thing is, you don’t know if the person is lazy, crazy or unemployed. You don’t know if they’re homeless, getting food for the homebound or ran out of money this month. But there are some you can tell.

Then there are the people who say they would never be caught at a food pantry. Or they don’t think about it at the food store because they don’t need to. Makes you wonder if they ever knew God. You don’t know how humble you get until you are putting food items from boxes into a clothes basket you brought to carry things with.

So far in the first quarter of 2012 I’ve managed not to borrow for basic needs; but I’m still trying to improve where I don’t need to worry about it for the next four weeks. Half way home is better than nothing.

William Swan, writer

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John | Married (with Debt) March 28, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Awesome that you have the strength and courage to not be ashamed. You are getting by without going under, which takes more strength than most people have.

Jana @ Daily Money Shot March 29, 2012 at 1:12 am

I love this post. You’re right not to feel ashamed. There’s nothing shameful about doing what you need to do to provide for yourself and the others that you generously care for.

I echo what John said. You are getting by without incurring debt. And that? Is something to be admired.
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Bill March 29, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Hi Jana

Thanks for the comment and the support.

Bill March 29, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Hey John

To me it’s not about courage, it’s about getting done what needs to get done. It’s just that simple to me.

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