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That's where a graduate degree in English will get you, standing in line at the soup kitchen.
Let's review how "desperate" this woman's situation was, and if the thread title is even correct:
"It had been a hard decision for me to go in the first place. We had a house full of food, mostly from the food bank, and some staples friends who were moving had given us. I was employed as a secretary for the county, a job that didn't make use of my graduate degree or my intelligence but had let me keep the kids in the same school and city after my divorce. I made a decent wage. I had health insurance and dental insurance. On my desk was a packet of new retirement and savings options. But summer child care was $1,800 a month for my three kids, and the child support I received from their father was a paltry sum mandated by the state. It didn't even begin to cover the cost of one kid's child care for a single summer month."
I'd blame a number of things here, none of them being the system: She wouldn't move to a cheaper residence, she wouldn't search for a better job out of town, she had a house full of food but went to the soup kitchen anyway (she shouldn't be going until she needs to), and the father was possibly not living up to his responsibility (what the state mandates and what a father should do are 2 different things). The article suggests he only pays $600/month in child support, that seems low for 3 children, but maybe he doesn't make much money, that's why I say possibly not doing all he should. This really looks to me like either a.) an exercise in stupidity by the author, or b.) a calculated effort to show how things CAN get desperate, even though her situation clearly was NOT. There are plenty of people that legitimately struggle to feed their kids, this lady sounds like a pretty well-off person trying her best to make the system look bad, or trying to put herself in legitimately poor people's shoes so she can write about both how hard it is for them AND how much guilt she has (she really gets going on the guilt thing at the end).