Food for Fines, Goodwill paying disabled folks subminimum wages ,and an amazing Jamaican woman raising 32 kids…

Since my last linky post was heavy with info that was angering and depressing, trying to put some more positive things in this evening’s round-up. It’s not all positive but mostly.

⇒ via @MobileCuisine St Louis Church Opens Food Truck For The Homeless – tinyurl.com/kvmzz3c

⇒ Gloria Malone ( ) wrote this excellent piece about how the lack of support structures fail single mothers and their children. A society that forces women to make impossible decisions is. huffingtonpost.com/motherwoman/la…

⇒ This is one of my favorite things I saw this week  - FoodForFines

This is an annual food drive initiated by the Phoenix Library and St Mary’s Food Bank Alliance. Libraries & food banks working together seems like a logical thing in my mind! I love this idea and definitely plan on suggesting something like this to my local library.

The USDA seeking more summer meal programs for low income children - This is good news. There are some programs that serve free meals to children while school isn’t in session but they’re usually in cities or if in rural areas, not accessible for all families.

Goodwill Pays Subminimum Wages to Disable Employees –  Why am I not surprised? “$3.27 for 24.88 hours of work.” Ugh, these people.

⇒ On Shinola, Detroit’s Misguided White Knight - “Listen, I can stomach hipsters planting flowers written with nice things about Detroit for a dog park one day. I can take $500 quartz watches and a section on their webshop entitled “Curated” that offers American flags that cost more than a brand new car. I can even take ten dollar cold-pressed juices when the city lacks grocery stores. Even those aren’t too much of an affront. What I can’t take is the white knighting of Shinola’s promotional campaigns. The company insists that “Detroit isn’t as bad as it seems”—that there are happy and proud people here too. To demonstrate just how optimistic and amazing Detroiters are, Shinola enlisted Bruce Weber and Carolyn Murphy—both out of towners, both white—to shoot the company’s latest ad campaign. The accompanying video, subtitled “A snapshot of life in the Motor City,” features photogenic models pedaling two thousand dollar bikes through the city. Photos of adorable black kids with a beautiful, benevolent white woman seem to be the centerpiece of Weber’s campaign for the company. They even have a video of one of the little girls rapping. Bruce Weber is quoted saying, “People were really friendly. They looked you in the eye when they said hello on the street, and they greeted you with a smile.” Detroit may be bankrupt, but that doesn’t mean its citizens aren’t normal, functioning human beings, Bruce.

⇒ This is an incredible woman. Her name is Annemarie Richards. She’s a Jamaican woman who has devoted her life to finding parentless,homeless children, raising them as her own and giving them opportunities they would never have otherwise. Just listen to her passion. It’s infectious.
The Make Life Better Foundation promised to donate school supplies and a computer lab to the children if this video reached 50,000 views by April 10th and it’s already way past that, so yay! Good stuff.

We’re having a Seed Party

The first thing my little one does when he wakes up in the morning is go to our “Seed Shelf”, a plastic yellow shelf my husband rescued from the garbage at a supermarket. It was an end-of-aisle display shelf for bug repellant. It’s been sitting  in a corner of the boys’ room, displaying lego creations and holding stacks of Pokemon cards. Now it’s been cleared off to store the random small containers and toilet paper tube pots we’ve gathered together from raiding recycle bins to start seeds in. The lack of a backing makes it a perfect seed starting shelf, placed in front of of one the few windows that actually lets light in our house.seed cups

This morning, my littlest peeked over the edge of a shelf , looking at the containers he helped me fill with soil and pushed seeds into with his tiny fingers . I could tell by the look on his face he was expecting to see more than just dirt. Disappointed,he said, “There’s nothing growing there. I think we need to have a seed party to make them pop up!”

Seed Parties, as it turns out, involve lots of water, spraying of water, and staring at DSC_0613the seed pots impatiently waiting for the magic to happen.

Time is hard for a three year old. Eventually, he gets tired of staring at dirt and goes off to play but he’ll come back later to check and make sure something exciting didn’t happen while he wasn’t standing watch. He doesn’t remember much of last year’s gardening experiences – it’s all new again this year. To me, that’s just so cool to see him experiencing things all over again, just like it’s new. There’s some things retained from last Spring. He remembers eating so many cucumbers and tomatoes off the vine ,straight from the garden but the seed starting business is fairly fuzzy in his memory.

This year he’ll be old enough to pick up new curse words if he hears me ranting at the woodchuck, the deer ,and the slugs who think my garden is an outdoor diner, so I’ll have to learn some new curse-worthy sentence enhancers to yell. Like maybe, “BY ST. BOOGAR AND ALL THE SAINTS AT THE BACKSIDE DOOR OF PURGATORY!”

The Seed Shelf. I was standing straight. It looks crooked because the floors in our house are sloped. No kidding.

The Seed Shelf. I was standing straight. It looks crooked because the floors in our house are sloped. No kidding.

ICYMI: Homeless in a Polar Vortex, giving away money to people who need it, funding programs for children in poverty and more

 

We’re in the middle of this polar vortex and it’s made me think more about homelessness than I probably ever have before.

Chicago Homeless Prepare for Deadly Cold http://bit.ly/1eaG9TY

 

The Fight for Fair Food foodtank.org               Food Tank interviews the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a farm worker-led organization working to eliminate abuse, wage theft, and unsafe working conditions. The mission of Just Harvest USA is “to build a more just and sustainable food system with a focus on establishing fair wages, humane working conditions and fundamental rights for farmworkers.”

Ask A Native New Yorker: Should I Give Money to Homeless People? -A New Yorker answers the question,”Should I give money to homeless people?”. Great points and look at the issue of homelessness.

Food Stamps Are Affordable; Corporate Welfare Is Not -This is back from November when food stamps were reduced but I’m afraid this will continue to be relevant for who knows how long.
“The average American family pays a staggering $6,000 a year in subsidies to Republican-friendly big business.”
AND AGAIN… the average taxpayer making $50,000/year pays $36/yr into food stamps.

Why intersectional feminism matters. The average for white women is 80 cents for every dollar a man makes.

Why we should give free money to everyone -Mentions social experiments in the past (like Mincome ) that back up the theory that if you give poor people money, they don’t spend it on cigarettes and tattoos. They use it to make their life better & accentuate their community.

Invitation to a Dialogue: Children and Poverty |  Mark Shriver, an official of Save the Children, says we are failing to invest enough to lift kids out of poverty. Readers are invited to respond -I used to work at Head Start, as well as other programs that serve low income families. I live in a small community. I’ve had the benefit of watching children grow beyond Head Start and enjoyed staying in touch with these families. Programs like these work. Not just my anecdotal input… time and time again, statistics back it up. Funding from these programs should never,ever be cut. If anything, we should be investing more (instead of stupid shit like wars,for example).

Cloth Diapering & Low Income Families

Awhile back, I read about the results of a Yale study that examined low income women and how poverty affected their mental health. One of the neat tidbits that came out was that about 30% of these mothers stated that they could not afford diapers for their babies and admitted reusing diapers.

We didn’t need a study to tell us this, or that low income mother are stressed out and prone to depression. Like, duh.

When the study came out, cloth diapering advocates and parents posted the article time and time again on social media with head shaking and finger wagging. “If only they used cloth diapers.”

I’m a huge fan of cloth diapering. I’ve wrapped all of my babies butts in cloth ,and although I really,really like The Earth, my main motivator was the cost effectiveness of cloth diapering and not the environmental benefits. I have been incredibly fortunate when it comes to acquiring cloth diapers. I got many for gifts. Several times I was able to claim a nice stash on Freecycle, brand new. The parents had decided not to cloth diaper after all and decided to pass them on to someone who could use them. Also, I can sew and make my own.

I love cloth diapers and think they’re awesomesauce. I encourage everyone to use them….when and if they can.

I was amazed at some of the really stupid commentary from the cloth diapering community when that study came out. Some people did not understand why low income women wouldn’t just do the “smart thing” and use cloth diapers. Of course, when people don’t understand the reasons why someone does or doesn’t do something, then you get the inevitable judgement and even outright shaming that “those people” don’t know better or do better.

Ugh,right?

I have known quite a few families who would like to cloth diaper but they don’t have access to a place they can buy cloth diapers. Not everyone has a bricks & mortar store near them that sells cloth diapers. Not everyone has a credit or debit card to purchase them online,either. Accessibility can be an issue for some people,depending where they live & their situation. Then the initial start-up cost of diapers. Wowza. We’re talking about $50 for 12 diapers + covers .

Even if you point out that many people do not have washing machines in their home (or maybe they live in a region that has severe water restrictions) or maybe they can barely afford to do laundry at the laundromat and that JUST one extra load makes it even harder, know what the reply was from some?

“That’s no excuse. There’s always handwashing”
(Actual comment. Sadly, echoed by others)

I’ve done that before and I have no reservations about saying it outright: Handwashing sucks. At the time, I worked at home. If I had worked outside the home, there’s no way I would have added that stress to my day. Poor women are stressed and depressed already. Handwashing shitty diapers isn’t going to improve anything. I wasn’t even stressed (or poor) at the time but it didn’t do wonders for my psyche.

To people who have a profound disconnect with poverty, when some poor person doesn’t do something they can do, it’s an excuse or a poor choice they’re making.  If a parent who is not poor makes the same parenting decision, it’s just a choice they made , not a poor one.

Feels like this is just another post from me, asking others to try to wrap their brain around an aspect of someone else’s life they never considered before and find some compassion, so I’ll wrap this up with some ideas on how to help and links.

How To Help Low Income Families Cloth Diaper

  • My old washing machine sat in my driveway for awhile before I could have it hauled away. A couple knocked on the door one day asking if they could have it. I told them the drum was cracked and leaked. They still wanted it. This couple collects broken appliances and fixes them specifically to donate to low income families. If you’re handy and have some spare time (and a truck would be helpful), this would be a nice project that could help people in your community.
  • If you have sewing skills, consider sewing up some cloth diapers to give to a family OR even better, teach others to make them and make it a group project. Youth groups could easily get involved.
  • Pick up used sewing machines and sewing supplies to donate to families who are interested in making their own.
  • If there’s a cloth diaper bank program in your area, maybe work together to fundraise laundry expenses for families without a washer at home.

These are places you can donate diapers, both cloth and disposable, for low income families.

 

The National Diaper Bank Network, a nonprofit that has donated more than 15 million diapers to free distributers across the nation, helps connect struggling families with local diaper banks.

Baby Buggy reports that it has helped provide 6 million items, including diapers and bottles, to struggling families.

 

 

“Its hard being poor in America. When your kid is sick enough that you can’t work but disability doesn’t pay the bills, it is crushing. “

Today a reader shares their personal story of being judged for using food stamps while buying food for their severely ill child. Much gratitude to this contributor for sharing their perspective and putting this out there.

Its hard being poor in America. When your kid is sick enough that you can’t work but disability doesn’t pay the bills, it is crushing.Robbing from Peter to pay Paul is difficult but begging for extensions and requesting medical extensions is harder and more dehumanizing.

For me, life of late consists of medications, PICC line care and antibiotic delivery. It is doctors visits and home nurses and other care for her. We also have two other kids that also have special needs and doctors visits, home therapists etc.

When any kid is hospitalized, it sucks. When you are her only means of communication and can’t leave the hospital but “live too close” for the hospital to help, the only choice you have is to not eat. Last month, I did that for 11 days. Almost half of last month, I had one meal or less each day.

This month, my kid is neutropenic. This means she has very low white blood counts and can’t fight off illness. She has to wear masks and eat special food. She can’t have anything that is not prepackaged in an individual serving. She can’t have anything raw or undercooked including fruits and vegetables.

With those restrictions, I went to the store. I picked up a handful of items including peanut butter, fruit, vegetables, smoothies, applesauce, cookies and cereal. She lost 12 pounds last month. We need to get these higher calorie foods in her.

Items in the cart: 2 boxes of cookies, juice boxes, individual peanut butter (that was one of the things the woman screamed at me about while thrusting her jar in my face), applesauce and smoothie pouches, fruit and vegetable cups, and the only individual boxes of cereal the store carries.

Items in the cart: 2 boxes of cookies, juice boxes, individual peanut butter (that was one of the things the woman screamed at me about while thrusting her jar in my face), applesauce and smoothie pouches, fruit and vegetable cups, and the only individual boxes of cereal the store carries.

I already hate using food stamps. We even separated items into food and nonfood and paid for the nonfood separately, taking it to the car so that no one would notice that we bought dog food and socks and other “niceties.”

The lady behind me saw my wife hand me our direction card before she went to bring the van around. At first, I wasn’t sure I heard her comment.

“Glad I work so you can buy junk food” was quickly

followed with “greedy food stamp recipients buying individual peanut butters while I can only afford a jar.” The last one was accompanied by a jar of generic peanut butter being thrust in my face.

I tried to explain and she didn’t believe me. I tried to ignore her but things kept getting more heated. I put myself between her and my daughter and kept my head down. As I left, she was still yelling at me to spend her money more wisely.

All of my trip cost 38.41. I will skip meals to make that work. I will hope that my wife and kids don’t notice. I will claim I am not feeling well. My kids have to eat.

This is what they can’t see. Medications, IV antibiotics, PICC line supplies, respritory equipment, hand sanitizer hospital bracelets, sharps container, stethascope, PICC lines and masks.

 

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December 4,2013 update here

“Poverty is a more powerful influence on the outcome of inner-city children than gestational exposure to cocaine…”

An extensive study of crack babies conducted in Philadelphia over the span of over 20 years yielded some unexpected results:
Poverty in the inner-city is more powerful than cocaine.

“We went looking for the effects of cocaine,” Hurt said. But after a time “we began to ask, ‘Was there something else going on?’ “

While the cocaine-exposed children and a group of nonexposed controls performed about the same on tests, both groups lagged on developmental and intellectual measures compared to the norm. Hurt and her team began to think the “something else” was poverty.

As the children grew, the researchers did many evaluations to tease out environmental factors that could be affecting their development. On the upside, they found that children being raised in a nurturing home – measured by such factors as caregiver warmth and affection and language stimulation – were doing better than kids in a less nurturing home. On the downside, they found that 81 percent of the children had seen someone arrested; 74 percent had heard gunshots; 35 percent had seen someone get shot; and 19 percent had seen a dead body outside – and the kids were only 7 years old at the time. Those children who reported a high exposure to violence were likelier to show signs of depression and anxiety and to have lower self-esteem.

More recently, the team did MRI scans on the participants’ brains. Some research has suggested that gestational cocaine exposure can affect brain development, especially the dopamine system, which in turn can harm cognitive function. An area of concern is “executive functioning,” a set of skills involved in planning, problem-solving, and working memory.

The investigators found one brain area linked to attention skills that differed between exposed and nonexposed children, but they could not find any clinically significant effect on behavioral tests of attention skills.

Drug use did not differ between the exposed and nonexposed participants as young adults. About 42 percent used marijuana and three tested positive for cocaine one time each.

The team has kept tabs on 110 of the 224 children originally in the study. Of the 110, two are dead – one shot in a bar and another in a drive-by shooting – three are in prison, six graduated from college, and six more are on track to graduate. There have been 60 children born to the 110 participants.

The years of tracking kids have led Hurt to a conclusion she didn’t see coming.

“Poverty is a more powerful influence on the outcome of inner-city children than gestational exposure to cocaine,” Hurt said at her May lecture.

Other researchers also couldn’t find any devastating effects from cocaine exposure in the womb. Claire Coles, a psychiatry professor at Emory University, has been tracking a group of low-income Atlanta children. Her work has found that cocaine exposure does not seem to affect children’s overall cognition and school performance, but some evidence suggests that these children are less able to regulate their reactions to stressful stimuli, which could affect learning and emotional health.

Coles said her research had found nothing to back up predictions that cocaine-exposed babies were doomed for life. “As a society we say, ‘Cocaine is bad and therefore it must cause damage to babies,’ ” Coles said. “When you have a myth, it tends to linger for a long time.”

Deborah A. Frank, a pediatrics professor at Boston University who has tracked a similar group of children, said the “crack baby” label led to erroneous stereotyping. “You can’t walk into a classroom and tell this kid was exposed and this kid was not,” Frank said. “Unfortunately, there are so many factors that affect poor kids. They have to deal with so much stress and deprivation. We have also found that exposure to violence is a huge factor.”

Read about the study and the conclusions here.

At a time when 2 in 10 children are living in poverty in the United States and many of those are living in the inner city, we need to be paying very close attention to what studies like these tell us. This along with the studies that conclude that nutrition is a huge factor on school performance and brain development (also something common sense could tell us), it just doesn’t make sense that “we” are not desperately trying to end child poverty. It’s definitely not a time to be cutting programs that help feed and educate these children plus provide intervention services  to help them and their families out of it.