Eating at college, it’s double or nothing

Published 12:06 am Thursday, July 12, 2007

I thought your readers might like to know about college life from an older student and about several unexpected problems.

Having moved to Leflore County last August from Natchez to attend Mississippi Valley State University as a full time student, I soon learned that living off campus disqualified me from the meal ticket dorm residents get. On four occasions, I’ve purchased a commuter meal ticket good for any 50 meals of my choice from MVSU’s cafeteria. That’s $162.25 times four, which is really a great bargain, and I’ve enjoyed the meals.

Last September a classmate told me I might qualify for food stamps, so I sat one day no less than 2 1/2 hours finally to be told by food stamp officials that though they sympathized with me, I did not qualify. Being a white, nontraditional college student, a male, in my 40s, did not matter. My only income, as I explained, was and still is from playing piano at church. I had not qualified for a work-study job on campus. In order for me to qualify for food stamps, I was told I needed at least 20 hours work each week. Imagine that! Based on hours worked rather than income earned, my application for food stamps was denied.

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Then another fantastic idea became a temporary possibility. Having read about Leflore County’s Food Pantry and the wonderful service it provides, I built up enough courage to pay it a visit, hoping to get a food box.

The lady at the desk was nice. She said in order for me to qualify for a food box, I either had to be receiving $60 or less per month in food stamps or else obtain proof from the food stamp office that I’d been denied. I was back in a short while with proof, and I received a hefty one-time-only “emergency” box. The sweet lady told me if I should qualify later for food stamps, I’d also qualify to receive more food boxes. I thanked the workers at the food pantry and then drove away with the box of food.

Some things in life just do not make sense. Rules are rules, I guess, even if they result in a double-or-nothing system.

As I continue my efforts towards a degree in elementary education, I’ll pray that God will provide the $162.25 as needed.

Jacky Campbell

Natchez native