This mom left an abusive relationship and fell into poverty. Here's how she got out.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Almost 10 years ago, Stephanie Land and her baby daughter Mia had no choice but to check into a homeless shelter.

Stephanie was fleeing an abusive relationship. She had no family to turn to, and she couldn't afford a place of her own. For the next three months, she and Mia lived in the Port Townsend homeless shelter in Washington.

Stephanie knew she needed help — and that's why one of the places she turned to was the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program(SNAP).

Applying for SNAP benefits can be an an ordeal under the best circumstances, but it was even more challenging for Stephanie because she lacked internet access. Thankfully, her persistence paid off and she soon began receiving benefits to help her pay for food.

Photo via iStock.

Her SNAP benefits were usually $200 to $300 a month — a mere $7 to $10 a day — and it was often all she had to pay for food.

But the SNAP benefits went a long way for her family. Mia was a picky eater, so Stephanie had to get creative to make sure she was getting as much nutritious food as she could afford. Sometimes that meant adding vegetables and a homemade sauce to packages of instant ramen to get Mia to eat them.

It was a process, but ultimately, SNAP, along with other welfare benefits like health care and child care, helped them stay afloat while Stephanie looked for work.

Photo via iStock.

Unfortunately, looking for work was easier said than done during the 2008 recession.

"All the jobs that were available during normal child care hours were more professional jobs," Stephanie recalls.

The only jobs she could get were entry-level, minimum-wage jobs that usually involved her working late hours, when affordable child care services are rarely available.

This balancing act of working low-paying jobs, caring for her daughter, and living on welfare wore on Stephanie. But she knew that college could be her ticket out of it.

The Land family in their studio apartment in low-income housing. Photo via Stephanie Land.

Stephanie applied for and received the Pell Grant and the Women's Independence Scholarship, which helps survivors of domestic violence pay tuition. She also took out student loans.  

While these helped significantly, she had to keep working because the federal benefits she needed to survive — like food stamps — would only continue if she was working at least 20 hours a week.

As a full-time student and single mom, working that much proved near impossible. But Stephanie kept pushing forward, relying on her resourcefulness and persistence to make it to each next day.

"I learned the only person I really had to depend on is myself," she says.

[rebelmouse-image 19345897 dam="1" original_size="400x400" caption="Stephanie Land. Image via Stephanie Land/Stepville." expand=1]Stephanie Land. Image via Stephanie Land/Stepville.

Stephanie didn't feel comfortable turning to friends for support during this time because she knew some of them believed that people who rely on federal benefits are lazy, entitled, and refuse to work hard.

It's a hurtful stigma and, unfortunately, one that many believe about people who have no choice but to rely on programs like SNAP.

"Being on food stamps and on Facebook at the same time, you learn what your friends really think of people on welfare," Stephanie explains. "You learn pretty quickly not to offer that information readily."

While Stephanie is proof positive that this stigma's message is false, she still felt embarrassed about needing federal assistance. In fact, it was that discomfort that made her all the more determined to change her situation.

After six years of hard work,she graduated with a bachelor's degree in English and started making a living wage writing.

Stephanie and Mia. Photo via Stephanie Land.

She wrote about various aspects of her day-to-day life, like working as a house cleaner and being a single mom living on $6 a day.

"I found a niche that not too many people can write about from a first-person perspective," Stephanie says.

She can  provide a window into a world that's often just speculated over rather than clearly seen. Many people push away the idea of poverty because they want to believe it could never happen to them. Through her insightful writing, though, Stephanie has proven no one is immune.  

"While it’s terrifying to come out and openly admit those things, it was also something people needed to read about," Stephanie says. "Especially from someone who doesn’t fit the stereotypical image of what people connect with someone living in poverty."

When an article Stephanie wrote for Vox about cleaning houses went viral, she got a call from a well-known literary agent the same day asking to sign her. A year later, she was offered a book deal.  

Today, Stephanie lives in her first real house with her two daughters.

"It was quite a moment finally watching my girls play in a backyard," she recalls.

But, she says, she'll never forget those years she lived in poverty.  

Stephanie with her daughters Coraline (left) and Mia (right). Photo via Stephanie Land.

She's written about her experience for a number of publications, including The New York Times and The Washington Post. She's also a regular writer for the Center for Community Change, whose mission is to help improve low-income families' lives. And she's received a number of emails from people who were, or currently are, dealing with the issues she's faced, thanking her for giving them a voice.

As a result, she looks at the world through a different filter — one of compassion for everyone she comes across.

"I try not to make any assumptions about other people’s lives because it’s so easy to suddenly be in that place where you have nowhere to go," Stephanie explains. "And you never know who’s going through something like that."

If you or someone you know is living in poverty or with food insecurity, a good first step for them to take is to call 211 or check out 211.org online. There, you can find information about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as well as many other federal assistance programs.


10 anti-holiday recipes that prove the season can be tasty and healthy

Balance out heavy holiday eating with some lighter—but still delicious—fare.


Lighten your calorie load with some delicious, nutritious food between big holiday meals.


The holiday season has arrived with its cozy vibe, joyous celebrations and inevitable indulgences. From Thanksgiving feasts to Christmas cookie exchanges to Aunt Eva’s irresistible jelly donuts—not to mention leftover Halloween candy still lingering—fall and winter can feel like a non-stop gorge fest.

Total resistance is fairly futile—let’s be real—so it’s helpful to arm yourself with ways to mitigate the effects of eating-all-the-things around the holidays. Serving smaller amounts of rich, celebratory foods and focusing on slowly savoring the taste is one way. Another is to counteract those holiday calorie-bomb meals with some lighter fare in between.

Contrary to popular belief, eating “light” doesn’t have to be tasteless, boring or unsatisfying. And contrary to common practice, meals don’t have to fill an entire plate—especially when we’re trying to balance out heavy holiday eating.

It is possible to enjoy the bounties of the season while maintaining a healthy balance. Whether you prefer to eat low-carb or plant-based or gluten-free or everything under the sun, we’ve got you covered with these 10 easy, low-calorie meals from across the dietary spectrum.

Each of these recipes has less than 600 calories (most a lot less) per serving and can be made in less than 30 minutes. And Albertsons has made it easy to find O Organics® ingredients you can put right in your shopping cart to make prepping these meals even simpler.


eggs and green veggies in a skillet, plate of baconNot quite green eggs and ham, but closeAlbertsons

Breakfast Skillet of Greens, Eggs & Ham

273 calories | 20 minutes


1 (5 oz) pkg baby spinach

2 eggs

1 clove garlic

4 slices prosciutto

1/2 medium yellow onion

1 medium zucchini squash

1/8 cup butter, unsalted

1 pinch crushed red pepper

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

bow of cauliflower ham saladGet your cauliflower power on.Albertsons

Creamy Cauliflower Salad with Ham, Celery & Dill

345 calories | 20 minutes

1/2 medium head cauliflower

1 stick celery

1/4 small bunch fresh dill

8 oz. ham steak, boneless

1/2 shallot

1/4 tspblack pepper

1/4 tsp curry powder

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp garlic powder

3 Tbsp mayonnaise

1/8 tsp paprika

2 tsp red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

tofu on skewers on a plate with coleslawPlant-based food fan? This combo looks yums. Albertsons

Grilled Chili Tofu Skewers with Ranch Cabbage, Apple & Cucumber Slaw

568 calories | 20 minutes

1 avocado

1/2 English cucumber

1 (12 oz.) package extra firm tofu

1 Granny Smith apple

3 Tbsp (45 ml) Ranch dressing

1/2 (14 oz bag) shredded cabbage (coleslaw mix)

2 tsp chili powder

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

frittata in a cast iron skilletSometimes you just gotta frittata.Albertsons

Bell Pepper, Olive & Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata with Parmesan

513 calories | 25 minutes

6 eggs

1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted

2 oz Parmesan cheese

1 red bell pepper

1/2 medium red onion

8 sundried tomatoes, oil-packed

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

plate with slices of grilled chicken and a caprese saladCaprese, if you please.Albertsons

Balsamic Grilled Chicken with Classic Caprese Salad

509 calories | 25 minutes

3/4 lb chicken breasts, boneless skinless

1/2 small pkg fresh basil

1/2 (8 oz pkg) fresh mozzarella cheese

1 clove garlic

3 tomatoes

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

4 3/4 pinches black pepper

1 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

3/4 tsp salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

four stuffed mushrooms on a plateThese mushrooms look positively poppable.Albertsons

Warm Goat Cheese, Parmesan & Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Mushrooms

187 calories | 35 minutes

1/2 lb cremini mushrooms

1 clove garlic

1/2 (4 oz) log goat cheese

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

2 sundried tomatoes, oil-packed

1 1/4 pinches crushed red pepper

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp Italian seasoning

2 pinches salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

plate with open English muffin with goat cheese and sliced baby tomatoes on topMove over, avocado toast. English muffin pizzas have arrived.Albertsons

English Muffin Pizzas with Basil Pesto, Goat Cheese & Tomatoes

327 calories | 10 minutes

3 Tbsp (45 ml) basil pesto

2 English muffins

1/2 (4 oz) log goat cheese

1/2 pint grape tomatoes

3/4 pinch black pepper

2 pinches salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

pita pocket on a plate filled with veggies, meat and cheeseThis pita pocket packs a colorful punch.Albertsons

Warm Pita Pocket with Turkey, Cheddar, Roasted Red Peppers & Parsley

313 calories | 20 minutes

1/4 (8 oz) block cheddar cheese

1/2 bunch Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

4 oz oven roasted turkey breast, sliced

1/2 (12 oz) jar roasted red bell peppers

1 whole grain pita

3/4 pinch black pepper

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp mayonnaise

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

plate with toast smeared with avocado and topped with prosciuttoDid we say, "Move over, avocado toast?" What we meant was "Throw some prosciutto on it!" Albertsons

Avocado Toast with Crispy Prosciutto

283 calories | 10 minutes

1 avocado

2 slices prosciutto

2 slices whole grain bread

1 5/8 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp onion powder

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

bowl of chili with cheese and green onions on topVegetarian chili with a fall twistAlbertsons

Black Bean & Pumpkin Chili with Cheddar

444 calories | 30 minutes

2 (15 oz can) black beans

1/2 (8 oz ) block cheddar cheese

2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

2 green bell peppers

1 small bunch green onions (scallions)

1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin purée

1 medium yellow onion

1/2 tsp black pepper

5 7/8 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp cumin, ground

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp virgin coconut oil

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

For more delicious and nutritious recipes, visit albertsons.com/recipes.

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