Putting Food on the Table when You Are Unemployed

If you’re unemployed, making ends meet while still putting food on the table becomes a challenge. If you’ve ever applied for unemployment benefits, you know that they usually amount to less than half of the salary you were making before. And it becomes even more challenging if you try to pick up a little extra work to supplement that income. Once that income is reported, your unemployment benefits will be reduced by the amount of money you earned for the week you earned it so your part-time work doesn’t even serve as a supplement.

So how do you put food on the table with so little money coming in?

Get in Touch with Local Food Banks

The whole reason they exist is to help people who can’t afford food. The meals are nothing lavish, but they’re nutritional and help supplement anything you can manage to purchase on your own. A quick online search will help you find the food banks in your area and provide contact information. Reach out to find out what their application process is then get started.

It may surprise you to know that many churches also have their own food banks for the community. Their members drop off canned goods and produce that the church then distributes throughout the area to people in need. Reach out to several churches in your area to find out if they provide this service.

One other option is getting in touch with the local farmer’s markets. Many offer their produce that didn’t sell to a local food distribution charity.

Apply for Food Aid

The United Way and The Alliance for Information and Referral Services have created easy ways to find local resources to help with financial assistance. Visit the 2-1-1 website for more information. Not only can they help with food assistance, they also provide resources for housing and healthcare. By entering your zip code or city and state, they can refer you to the social services resources in your area including information on how to apply for food stamps.

You can also apply for food stamps directly through your state’s service. Just Google “how to apply for food stamps in (state)” to find the website for your local area. Most states allow you to apply online.

Make Your Food Go Further

If you do have money for shopping and/or get food assistance through food stamps, shopping wisely can help you get more for your money. Shop for foods that can feed for more than one meal so they go further. Here are a few examples of nutritional foods that will fill you up and provide a few meals (note: choose store or generic brands for more savings):

  • Instant Oatmeal (10 packs per box)
  • One Dozen Eggs
  • Canned, Concentrated Juices
  • Bananas
  • Loaf of Bread
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly
  • Large Package of Lunch Meat
  • Spaghetti
  • Bag of Chicken Breasts (best option for low cost is the big box stores)
  • Ground Beef

Being unemployed doesn’t have to mean going hungry. But it does mean that you have to be more creative about how you put food on the table while your income is limited.

Emilie is the brains, the brawn, and the beauty behind She Does Better, inspiring millennial women to live financially, physically, and professionally fit lives. She writes about overcoming debt, while balancing trying to eat healthy, stay fit, and have a little fun along the way. Read more about her journey here.

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