LR: Let’s start with, what does hunger mean to you?
BS: for me it’s when my blood sugar drops, I start shaking and sweating, that’s when I know I’m hungry
LR: do you have diabetes?
BS: yeah. Before I was on the glucal pills, and I think they gave me the wrong ones or something, but now I’m off them and that’s been helping.
LR: okay, how often do you go hungry?
BS: I only eat about once a day, in the evening.
LR: what do you have?
BS: I have mac ‘n’ cheese or a bologna sandwich and a coke; I only get 36$ for the month.
LR: tell me what it’s like to get food. You said you get 36$ but…
BS: I ride the bus.
LR: you ride the bus? Okay, how long does that take you?
BS: about an hour and a half, two hours.
LR: okay, and how, is it cost-effective to ride the bus to get to the food pantry?
BS: yeah, it’s worth it.
LR: what food pantry do you go to?
uh, I go to transitional housing, and they’re the only two I go to. And
salvation army now and then. St. John’s
LR: okay, how often do you go?
BS: about once every two months because I get a little bit of money to spend.
LR: okay, and when you go to the food pantry, what kind of stuff do you get?
BS: I get white rolls and chicken and canned goods
LR: um, do you ever get, can you get vitamins there?
BS: no, cuz they put them in cans and when you put them in cans that’s like 5% salt, and rice and beans and whatever, and if it’s [vegetables] frozen the same day it’s picked then there’s minerals.
LR: how long have you been going to the food pantries?
BS: about 15 years. It’s easy to get food there but it’s old food that they can’t sell anymore so they give it to us—grocery stores don’t, aren’t able to sell it, so that’s what we get.
LR: I see you have a cigarette, how much do you smoke?
BS: under a pack a day, gotta make it stretch to two days.
LR: have you thought about quitting so you could spend the money on food?
BS: no, I’ve smoked 39 years, not gonna quit now.
LR: yeah, so you said you only eat once a day then?
BS: yeah, only at the end of the day, cuz that’s when I take my schizophrenia medication and it makes me hungry, but if I eat earlier in the day then I’ll be hungry again at night so I just eat once a day in the evening.
LR: so why don’t you go like a soup kitchen everyday or a food pantry?
BS: it’s like a 2 hr bus ride and it’s not worth it for nasty food. There’s only one soup kitchen and the bus doesn’t stop there.
LR: would you go to the soup kitchen if there was a bus stop there?
BS: yeah, then I would use it more if I had a ride, like the bus.
LR: so what sorts of things do you like to eat?
BS: spaghetti and rice mostly.
LR: how do you get your meds?
BS: I get ‘em through medicade. They give you like 1000 dollars, and then you have to pay them back like 150 for the meds. I don’t like that law. And it doesn’t give me a reason to win the lotto or go to work
LR: what do you mean?
BS: there’s a law that if you get money, like you win it or get a job, then you have to repay medicare, so it’s not worth it for me to sue about my hand, they did surgery on my hand and messed it up more and now I can’t even straighten it and I can’t sue them because if I win they’ll take it all back cuz I’ll have to repay the medicare amounts, so the law’s unfair.
LR: so do you see your life changing at all, or is it pretty much the way it’s gonna be for the rest of your life?
BS: nah, it’s pretty set.
LR: so what do you do all day?
BS: I sleep, I take naps, I watch cable to kill time, I play chess with some of my buddies at the library for a couple hours.
LR: why not use the cable money for food?
BS: to kill time—I don’t read and I didn’t finish school and it’s too late to start trying to learn something new, and I’d rather go hungry than not have cable cuz it kills time when you’re on disability and by yourself.
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