Today’s Reads: “”We have an image of hunger that comes from Africa, but this is America.And unless your belly is distended we don’t have an image of what hunger looks like here.”

All the read-worthy things for this evening.

Viola Davis talked to People Magazine about digging through trash and stealing food as a kid growing up with hunger.

Now partnering with the Safeway Foundationand the Entertainment Industry Foundation, Davis is spearheading the campaign forHunger Is to raise awareness and funds to fight childhood hunger. 

“We have an image of hunger that comes from Africa, but this is America,” Davis adds. “And unless your belly is distended we don’t have an image of what hunger looks like here.” 

Food programs like Hunger Is were instrumental in helping Davis achieve her dreams and goals. “I am the first generation of my family to go to college. Those programs made all the difference for me,” says the actress, who has five siblings. “It’s been cathartic for me because I always had a lot of shame with going in the garbage dumps that had maggots in it, too. It has brought healing in my life to be able to talk about it.” 
djline
If you are 35 or younger – and quite often, older – the advice of the old economy does not apply to you. You live in the post-employment economy, where corporations have decided not to pay people. Profits are still high. The money is still there. But not for you. You will work without a raise, benefits, or job security. Survival is now a laudable aspiration.
Quoted from Sarah Kendzior’s “Surviving the Post-Employment Economy

“In the United States, nine percent of computer science majors are unemployed, and 14.7 percent of those who hold degrees in information systems have no job. Graduates with degrees in STEM – science, technology, engineering and medicine – are facing record joblessness, with unemployment at more than twice pre-recession levels. The job market for law degree holders continues to erode, with only 55 percent of 2011 law graduates in full-time jobs. Even in the military, that behemoth of the national budget, positions are being eliminated or becoming contingent due to the sequester.

It is not skills or majors that are being devalued. It is people.”

Her work is frank, speaking of a reality I hope that will never be mine. At the same time, it gives me a strange comfort to know that I am not alone.

(via sextus—empiricus)

 

djline


think-progress
:

This is the worst city in America to be homeless.

A must read.

djline

Meanwhile….
Florida homeless center’s superior reason for growth- more medical care:
bit.ly/1nWCjn5#poverty (Op-Ed via @bradentonherald)

And you thought nothing good ever happened in Florida.

djline

via victorequality

Not only does capitalism depend on it, it treats it the shittiest. Domestic workers tend to be women and non-white, helping capitalism contribute to the marginalization of those people.

 

 

“They helped us in our darkest moments, when the food ran out” – Mayor SvanteMyrick

Media preview

My local Mayor Svante Myrick was on Meet the Press yesterday morning. Pretty big deal,I suppose but it actually just reminded me that I never posted this incredibly moving video he made for the area food bank.

Myrick grew up poor, raised by a devoted mother but the family was forced into poverty because of his father’s drug addiction. For a time, they were homeless and his meals often came from a food pantry. In this video, he shares his personal story growing up poor and what it meant to him to be helped by safety net programs and the food bank. “It’s not charity, it’s an investment.” He points out that without food programs, children can’t succeed.

Because of his experiences, he has overwhelming gratitude and is passionate about ending food insecurity.

More about Svante Myrick here.

 

 

 

 

 

Jenn’s Words: “Living in poverty is like being punched in the face over and over and over on a daily basis. “

words

Thank you to Jenn for sharing her personal story of living in poverty right now….

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Today, I did something I never thought I’d do. I yelled at my son for being hungry. Oh sure, there are many parents nodding in agreement because they’ve done the same thing. Many have yelled at their kids for asking for one more snack right before dinner was served or for wanting to eat junk food out of boredom. That’s not why I yelled. I yelled because I didn’t have extra food to give him and I was taking my frustration out on him. He wasn’t doing anything wrong. He’s just a kid, a 7 year old who is full of energy and constantly growing. Of course he’s hungry often. That’s what kids do. However, I didn’t have enough food for anyone to have extras. Everything has to be rationed out over a week or more. Food stuff needs to be stretched. Already angry and frustrated with our situation, I lost my cool when my child asked a simple question – because I knew there was nothing I could do to change it in that moment. My anger turned to worry, another constant feeling in my daily life, as I wondered if this would create food issues in my child. Will he be afraid to eat, knowing that we might not have enough the next day?
I’m 35 years old. I am a mother and a wife. I am college educated, degreed, and I have held a professional license. I have been working since the age of 18. Until now. I live in poverty. I am poor. My family is poor.

When I say I am poor, I don’t mean that it’s going to take me two weeks to save for a new iPad or the next iWhatever. I don’t mean that I’ll need a coupon to shop at J.Crew. I mean that I have saved my kids Halloween candy for times when my blood sugar gets too low after a day of not eating because I can’t afford enough food for 3 square meals for the entire family. It means that having my heat set above 60 degrees is a luxury. It means that the needle on my gas gauge is constantly hovering at E. It means that we wear our clothes several times before laundering because we can’t afford the fees to use the washing machines. It means the thrift shop is damn expensive. It means so many more things that we don’t often think about unless we’re living in poverty. As a culture, we are disconnected to the idea of not having access to the most basic needs. Consumerism and materialism are supposedly signs of a healthy economy and successful nation, environment be damned, and a blind eye towards those less advantaged is a requirement.

Our story of poverty doesn’t come with credit card bills, expensive cable packages, luxury toys. It’s not that anyone should be judged for why they are poor, but people naturally ask, mostly out of curiosity and sometimes to find information to justify their lack of care for your position, for a way to blame you for your own situation. It makes it easier to detach. We have both been hard workers for over a decade. We have played by the rules. It still got us. I am currently unemployed – and that’s not for a lack of effort. My husband lost a fairly good job over a year ago and we’ve been pulled down a spiral ever since. His period of unemployment meant we burned through our savings and our emergency fund. While I am still unemployed (to be fair, I do walk dogs or babysit on occasion for some cash, but those times are few and far between), my husband is currently working three jobs. Three jobs. My husband is not college educated. He has worked on the warehouse/shipping/receiving side of retail for a very long time and is good at what he does. He’s very strong, enjoys physical labor, and is a hard worker. His three jobs are retail-based. Two of them pay exactly minimum wage. The third pays just above that. He is constantly applying for jobs on a weekly basis, as am I. With three jobs, you can imagine he works many hours. There have been weeks were he worked all three jobs back to back with maybe an hour or two in between. Thanksgiving to the New Year were brutal. He would often work nearly 30 hours in a row, come home to sleep for a few hours, then go back for another cycle of 30 hours. It’s been brutal on his health and our family.

Will someone stop for a moment and tell me in what world is it considered moral for a person to work three jobs and still be unable to support their family. It just isn’t right.
Living in poverty is like being punched in the face over and over and over on a daily basis. It’s pulling yourself out of a hole, only to fall over a cliff. Every step in the right direction is rewarded with a hearty push several steps back. The changes to one’s mental health when living in poverty can be astonishing. I suffered a miscarriage years ago and I knew anger and sadness then. I made my way through it and survived. I didn’t think I would feel such strong emotions again. I was wrong. The anger is back. Anger is for everything. I’m angry I am in this situation. I am angry I’m not good enough for proper employment. I’m angry my children are living through this. I am angry at my husband. I’m angry at Christians who preach against me, ignoring the words of Christ. I’m angry at politicians who vote against people like me. I’m angry at a society that views me as a leech, as a welfare queen, as someone who deserves the be on the bottom of humanity’s shoe.

There is jealousy. I’ve never been a materialistic person and neither has my husband. We have never felt the need to keep up with the joneses – no desire for brand name clothing, big screen TVs, or the latest electronic gadget. We’ve never had cable. I liked to shop when I genuinely needed things, but I wouldn’t overspend or buy things I couldn’t afford. I never owned a credit card. Fashion magazines were fun and I’d laugh at the implication that a woman should spend $200.00 on a pair of jeans. Now, I’m jealous at anyone who can afford to buy $15.00 jeans on sale at Old Navy. Friends post their “OMG! Kohl’s haul!” on Facebook, posting pictures of their new boots, sweaters, jeans, yoga pants, etc. Where I would once say, “oh, those boots are cute,” I am now filled with plain old bitter envy. I wish I could just look at my boots, the ones with the rip in them, decide it was time to buy new ones, and walk out the door to buy a new pair. I wish I could say, “Gee, I sure am sick of wearing the same two shirts day in and day out,” and go to a store a buy a few new shirts that actually fit. I can’t. I have clothes that are finally showing their age and their wear. Threads are falling lose, seams opening, little holes throughout fabric, buttons are disappearing. An acquaintance said to me recently, “You actually look like a poor person.” Gee, thanks. I didn’t know there is a certain look for poor people… My husband spent a few months with holes in his work pants. I sewed them up as best I could, but eventually the fabric would be worn down so much that there wasn’t much to sew. He took to wearing black shorts under his pants (also black) so the holes wouldn’t be a noticeable. Thankfully, he received a couple of new pairs for Christmas. He also spent months walking with holes in his shoes. His sneakers literally fell off his feet one day and he was left with boots that were no longer waterproof and had a hole or two. He’d walk to and from work in rain and snow in those boots. Forget socks. He doesn’t own a pair without holes. We were blessed by a couple of friends who chipped in to buy him and new pair of sturdy, waterproof work boots.

Jealousy isn’t limited to clothing. I’ve been jealous that friends can do wild and crazy things like buy a full tank of gas, get new brakes for their cars, buy a pack of toilet paper, eat. Food is a big one. In this age of social media, one can guarantee that at least 3 ultra-filtered Instagram photos of a friend’s lunch will scroll on by on their computer screen each day. Back in the day, I would just note that so-and-so had a bagel for lunch and I’d go on with my day. Now, I just sit there and wish it was me. I wish I had a plate full of good food to obnoxiously photograph, but I don’t. It’s the food that really drove the issue home for me not too long ago. I had taken my children to Ikea. We weren’t there to buy anything. It was damn cold, we were tired of being cooped up in the house, and there weren’t many options for a free place to play. Ikea has a play zone for my older child. My daughter is more than happy to walk around the store, sitting on sofas and chairs. I love Ikea because it’s fun to imagine having different furniture and organization. While there, I bought my kids lunch. They had one of their specials going and kiddie meals were free! My kids each had a meal, which included drinks. I didn’t get anything for me. As they ate, I would pick at their plates, stealing a bite here and there. I looked at everyone eating around me and that’s when the tears, which I fought very hard to hold back, started to flow. I wanted so badly to be able to order something for myself. I was starving and the little bites of steamed veggies and mac ‘n’ cheese weren’t very filling. I hadn’t eaten yet that day and found myself just staring at the plates of strangers, wishing I was free to get myself something to eat. I found myself glaring at people through my tears as they took plates and bowls half full of food to the trash center – what a waste of food! Never before had I been tempted to say, “hey, I’ll take that,” than I was on that day. My son noticed me wiping tears and asked what was wrong. I lied and told him I took a bite of his sister’s squash and it must have had some sort of spice on it and I was reacting to that. He believed me for a moment, taking a last bite of his mashed potatoes before pushing the plate over to me and telling me he was full. More tears to fight off.

That brings me to the hunger. The hunger is extraordinary. There is a constant gnawing in your stomach, an empty feeling that has taken up permanent residence. Even as you’re eating a meal, you feel the hunger. It never goes away because you don’t know when you’re going to eat again. You don’t know if your next meal will be something proper or if it’ll be half a fun-sized bag of M&M’s that you hoarded from your kids’ Halloween haul or nothing at all. It’s an ever-present gastric uncertainty. As food stamp benefits continue to be cut and food pantries struggle to feed communities, that uncertainty will just continue. I hate to think of my children feeling the same way. They get first dibs on all food that comes through this house. There are many days when my kids get their three meals and I get half of one and my husband….well, I never see him because he is working all the time, but he barely eats, too. This is obviously unhealthy. Our health has tanked over the last year. I’ve been told I constantly look tired. My eyes are more sunken, devoid of light. My skin is dry, blemished, and overall just blah. My hair is brittle and I lose a lot of it on a daily basis. I’m constantly weak. My husband is a very strong man, but he has lost an alarming amount of muscle and strength in the past year. The two of us are constantly exhausted. Part of that is the hunger, part of it is emotional.

The emotions certainly take their toll. Hopelessness is unbearable. I was once someone that my friends would always look to for a positive thought and encouraging words. I always managed to see the good in every situation. I try my best to hold onto that, but it’s been slipping away quickly. Fear is constant. You’re always afraid of what’s next. I’m afraid of opening my bills to find new late fees. I’m afraid of losing utilities. I’m afraid of being evicted because we can’t afford our rent. You want to think positive, but the idea of “what’s next” is always looming. Things that might seem minor to one person can spell disaster for a family in poverty. Last week, my husband told me my tail light was out. This is typically not a big deal for many people. To us, it’s terrifying. We don’t have the money for a new tail light. But, it’s illegal here to have one out. Our cops here are very good at pulling you over for broken lights, outdated stickers, etc. Obviously, it’s the law to keep your car in check. We know this. I’ve always been great at keeping my car well-maintained. My inspections were always done on time, lights would be replaced immediately, oil is always changed, I never drove on gas fumes at the needle hovered on E. It’s all different now. Small things are big things. Monumental things. The idea of needing a tail light, an inspection, or a new tire due to the 100′s of pot holes created by tons of snow this Winter is enough to send me into a panic. Weather is terrorizing these days. Two of my husbands jobs can be called off due to snow or ice because the trucks can’t get to them, so they tell staff to stay home. We’ve had storm after storm after storm this season. My husband has missed so much work, not by choice, due to snow and ice. We added it up and discovered that he missed enough to pay for nearly two months of rent. Same for me – no doggies to walk in this weather because people are staying home.

Poverty is isolating. Friends eventually fade away because they think you’re ignoring them when you constantly turn down their invites to dinner or events. They take it personal no matter how many times you insist it’s not. Your children’s social lives suffer for the same reason – you can’t afford to send them to many birthday parties or playdates. Trips to zoos, museums, and other fun places with admission fees are extremely limited. People eventually tire of you being unavailable to come out for fun and they stop calling and texting. And maybe I should say those people aren’t friends in the first place, but it doesn’t take the pain away. It doesn’t make me hurt less for my children. Conversely, you have friends who know you’re in poverty and they try to brainstorm, try to help you through it. You say thank you a million times, but it’s not enough. After a while, trying to save you is boring and when they realize they didn’t fix you, they get annoyed. I’ve been called everything by people who were supposed to be my friends. Because I can’t snap my fingers and make things work perfectly and because that fact depresses the fuck out of me, I’ve been called useless, manipulative, worthless, unmotivated. No one wants to hear that you have tried all the options that they suggested and they didn’t work out. No one wants to hear that you know exactly why a suggestion won’t work. They don’t understand why you can’t “just move” or “just declare bankruptcy” or just swing around a pole (note: no one ever suggests that my husband sell his body for cash…but quite a few people have presented it as an option for me). This isn’t to say they are not well-meaning – and they certainly are not under appreciated by me – but they eventually get exasperated when you explain time and time again why certain suggestions don’t work. They want to fix you, fix you now, get you to shut the fuck up about being poor. It’s hard for others to deal with the overwhelming depression and hopelessness that accompanies poverty. It’s hard for them to hear that you don’t want to get up in the morning anymore, that you just want to end it all. So, it’s sometimes easier to be angry at the poor person, to convince yourself that they just don’t want to work for it, and keep your distance from them. Many friendships have been strained by poverty.

However, no one can be as hard on you as you are on yourself. I spend hours per day telling myself how much I suck. If only I had done this or done that. I know our circumstances were beyond our control. I know how hard we try every single say. But, it doesn’t stop me from doubting myself, from putting myself down. It doesn’t stop the shame. I feel like a leech. I’m told by my friendly clergymen, my wonderful politicians, and by people I know and once called friends that I am a burden on society. I’m a taker. If only I worked harder. If only I wanted to stop being poor and getting handouts, then everything would turn around and I would be rich. If only I would pray harder, attend the correct church, and read an ancient book that I have read cover to cover many times in the past. Then God would just bestow His blessings upon me. Or, I should really just consider putting some positive energy out into the Universe. If I meditate and tell the Universe that I want money, money will come and everything will be fixed. The constant shouts from society’s peanut gallery telling me how the poor or worthless and damned help shape my inner dialogue and I begin to agree with them. I am worthless. I deserve the shame I feel.

It’s hard to accept help when your inner dialogue tells you that you are useless. People tell me to be willing to accept help, I’ll be able to pay it forward someday. Without friends and the kindness of strangers, we wouldn’t have had a Christmas for our kids. My car payment would not have been paid for a couple of months, my husband would still have holes in his boots, and my car would still be uninspected and I’d be in deep shit. And we’re still here, still in need.

I sit here now, writing this at my desk that is piled with overdue utility bills and a statement from my landlord telling us they are pursuing legal action against us because our rent is currently 17 days late. I have multiple windows open on my computer – several for job applications for me, several job applications for my husband to look at once he’s home from work, a few for charity searches, another for prayer requests, and another for a site that offers emotional support and solidarity for people like me. The future is more than uncertain and it feels that the ground under me can open at any moment and swallow me whole.

And so I do pray. I do hope. I work hard to get our family out of this hell hole and so does my husband. I am grateful in ways that I cannot fully express for all the help that has come to my family in recent months from both friends and strangers. It reminds us that even though life is pure shit right now, there are bright spots. The good exists. So, we continue to focus on that. I hope to eventually write about how we struggled, survived, and came out on top. Until then, be nice to the poor folk. You can have all the assumptions in the world about how they got there, how the feel, how much they “take,” but you can never really know their true story – humans deserve compassion.

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Jupiter here. The outpouring of support and people wanting to help has been incredible. I started a gofundme page to handle donations for those interested:
Donate to Jenn and her family here
 
For those who have asked about physical donations such as clothing,food,etc…. I am not comfortable  publishing Jenn’s address here publicly.  Bear with me…working on a solution.
I have a PO Box people can send small items and gift cards to, I guess? I couldn’t afford to ship heavy items to her,though. PO Box 905, Trumansburg NY 14886
I’ve talked to Jenn many time throughout the day and 1st of all, she’s immensely grateful. I’ve known Jenn for quite awhile and know that her gratitude is sincere and the generosity will be paid forward to others.
Secondly, her husband applied at Costco (in Pennsylvania). Jenn was wondering if anyone has connection w/ Costco in the northeast and could maybe help a little with this?
You can email me at jupitersinclair[at]gmail[dot]comJenn passed along a “Thank you”. You can read it here.

 

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Update…February 23rd
Hello,again. I just wanted to take a minute to address a couple things here that a very small number of people have concerns about. I’ve already mentioned a bit of this in Jenn’s Thanks and my pre-ramble before it (and please do go read that f you haven’t already!), but traffic seems to still be heavier for this post with not so many visit for the latter.

Ok,first… there wasn’t ever any point where anyone said that cash only donations would be accepted. As stated above, I was trying to figure out the logistics of that ,for one thing. I do have quite a bit of experience collecting and distributing goods that need to get to places they’re needed and I just know that many times it’s impractical. Not only is it pricey to ship a box of canned food but when you have a lot of people reaching in to their closets for things to donate to ONE family, what happens is a major overflow of goods that one family couldn’t possibly use but still has to figure out what to do with.
So, I suppose I would most definitely discourage physical items…but I can’t refuse enthusiastic help. I also know that Jenn would be able to pass along overflow to connections she has in her community, such as Catholic Charities.  As it stands right now, there IS a place to mail items if you really want to do that. (You can find that info in the thank you post).

There was tremendously weird discussion about the issue of PO Box. I have a PO Box. It’s up there. Like I said, people can send me small things I can forward them. As the theme of this blog implies, I’m kinda poor. I can’t afford to forward large boxes of things. I do not suggest anyone put their home  address on the Internet. I’ve learned to be cautious from experience. Why doesn’t Jenn get a PO Box “with all that money raised in gofundme” ? In case you’re unaware of how gofundme works, it takes 2-5 business days for the transfer to a bank account to begin. Not all the money is available at once. It’s transferred in increments. Meaning: the gofundme money is not even in Jenn’s bank account yet. When the first of it does arrive there, there are pressing needs such a dealing with eviction,court fees,broken taillight…
But the really cool thing about money is that you can buy food with it,too.

I know that some people who have never experienced poverty will still not understand a lot of narratives about poverty. Even if you grew up in poverty, you still only have the experience of being a child in poverty, not as an adult trying to keep their head above water for themselves and their kids. So, while that experience is your own, it is not the experience of a parent dealing with poverty, or even of other children who grew up poor. My point is, each person has their individual story to tell. You can learn from them and grow a better understanding & compassion , or you can sit in judgement and condemnation because the narrative doesn’t match the one you made up in your head. S’up to you.

 

Food is a human right, not a privilege

The first time I experienced true hunger, I just went with it and hoped the answer to having no food would fall in my lap. Something would change. I was not about to go beg for help. I was raised knowing what kind of people got free money from the government. Lazy,good for nothing,waste of space kind of people. I was harder on myself also because I heard all the voices back from when I had a baby when I was just a girl myself…the ones that said, ‘You’ll never make it. You’re going to ruin your own life and that baby’s.’.

Realistically, I should have been proud of the fact that I raised that baby until he was 5 without help from anyone, family or the government. A 35 year old single mother had just as much chance of being the one who found herself suddenly without a job and no new prospects, struggling to avoid eviction and keep the lights on and food in bellies. I just didn’t see it that way then. I saw myself as the conservative naysayer’s prophecy come true. I honestly believed asking for help made me less of a “strong woman”.

ec988e2f4c5c479b9c47ed254621ada9I fed my kid what there was to eat and if there was leftovers, I’d eat that. I was naturally petite, weighing only about 110 pounds at my heaviest winter weight. Before long, I started to lose my curves and people noticed. At first, it was, “Wow, you look great!” , until I didn’t look great anymore and I just looked sick. I weighed 85 pounds before someone I barely knew started leaving food on my doorstep and then made me call DSS to apply for food stamps & cash assistance.I was ashamed and embarrassed, which was only made worse by the way people treat you when you’re getting assistance but the world didn’t end and we ate.

That was the first time.

The second time I was really hungry, I had taken myself, my son, and newborn twins out of a horrible situation and moved into an apartment. It didn’t take long to feel like I had just gone from a dangerous place to another dangerous place. I was working full time, paying more than half my paycheck to daycare, not receiving any child support or assistance from anywhere. As soon as I caught myself rationing food and making sure the kid ate before I did, I recognized that it was time to apply for help. I did and I was denied. I made $110 too much, according to the income eligibility guidelines. $110 too much yet not enough to actually make it.  I applied for a daycare subsidy, trying to free up that money to pay the bills & eat but there was a 6 month waiting list. That’s a long time to wait when you’re hungry. I went to food pantries and bought cheap, gross food. The apartment I lived in had no place for me to grow food.  Then, the daycare center I worked at as a teacher went bankrupt and closed. That saved my ass. No longer making anything, I was approved for food stamps and we could eat again. I don’t know what would have happened if the place I worked for hadn’t closed and I had stayed employed. I had already started not eating at home and looking forward to the free meals served at the daycare.Afterward, living on unemployment & some food stamps, I found myself in the odd predicament of being afraid to find another job and getting stuck in the same situation.

That was the second time.

There wasn’t really a third time. Even though we receive food stamps right now, I didn’t let it get to that point where I was truly hungry. I think you’ve probably figured out that when I’m using the word hungry here,I’m not talking about the little pang you feel between meals. I’m talking about a consistently empty and unfulfilled feeling in your stomach. The kind that makes you tired and slow, physically,mentally,spiritually. I never let it get that far again. There are millions of people in the US who are eligible for food stamps and don’t even apply. There are a lot more who have applied and were denied because they made “too much” . Making too much to receive help is sometimes just as bad as being in that place where you won’t go apply for whatever reason. The system has a lot of illogical rules and  doesn’t serve everyone who needs fed. In most states, the amount someone is suppose to receive as court ordered child support is counted as income….even if  child support is rarely received. Single parents living on one income, not making ends meet at all yet can’t qualify for help because on paper, their income is some figure based on what some slacker is supposed to pay but doesn’t.

People have told me their reasons for not applying. The shame & fear of being judged is an overwhelmingly huge factor. Sometimes the way you’re treated at the social services office by caseworkers varies greatly. Some are compassionate & helpful. Others are cruel & judgmental.The people who have had experiences in the past with government employed social workers who can’t dish out anything but contempt for the people they’re required to help won’t ever go back to apply again.

Humiliation is powerful enough to keep people from getting help to eat. That’s a damned shame. Food is a right, not a privilege. I wish I had understood that 20 years ago. I wish I had understood that it didn’t matter why I had no money to feed myself and my child, I still deserved to eat just as much as any other human being with money in their bank account.

I don’t care how unpopular that opinion is. I don’t express the opinions I have to please those people. I have them to show I care about people who need someone to give a shit about them and because I’ve been there myself. The people who gripe about there being too many people on food stamps  “living high on the hog” as it is and all that bullshit about welfare fraud need to get a dose of reality. More than half the people on food stamps work, they’re just underemployed and half the people also receive them for less than 1 year. Being anti-food stamps because of rampant welfare fraud or other misconceptions is like saying that  a lot of women lie about being raped. It happens so rarely that it makes the issue irrelevant.Of course it’s wrong but the percentages do not warrant an entire argument and raging stigma to be born from it.

I’m not here to talk about how bad welfare fraud is. I’m just here to speak for the larger numbers of people who need help.  Living on food stamps is no picnic but it beats the hell out of not having them at all. 0ed4efd8b7cad7558f3d3947237b7436The welfare stigmas and stereotypes need to die. I don’t know how to make this happen except to keep speaking up for the majority of people who do not fit the stereotype and myth. I encourage anyone who really needs help to go get it and refuse to give a shit about the people who will judge you.No one should ever get to that point where they weigh 85 pounds and are still too embarrassed to ask for help. If you’re treated unkindly, point out that decent humans don’t act like that.

Compassion is a sign of great intellect. If they’re not showing compassion, it proves their stupidity. If you happen to be one of the unsympathetic beings reading this, don’t get all bent out of shape because I just stated that you’re stupid. Just try to open your mind a bit and let your perceptions change a little. Remember this: Shit happens and it happens to the best of us. Someday you could be the one who needs help. Do you really want to be treated like a parasite because of it?

All the things you might have missed- 12/2-12/8/2013

Ok, let’s try this. A link digest of all the Facebook posts  from the past week, all in one handy place. Facebook’s super annoying “algorithm”  keeps fewer people from seeing the Poor as Folk page posts.

Articles & Thoughts

Where Is the Love?- I don’t like Nicholas Kristof ‘s use of unfair stereotypes here to illustrate his point (I used to work with children with FAS…none of them born to teen moms. *I* was a teen mom and never drank. Likewise, I’ve also seen many cases of abuse in children and single mothers were not the primary perpetrators) but his point is that people need to be more compassionate and I can’t disagree with that.
The call for removal of children from homes hits a huge nerve with me (and I plan to write more about this some day soon). I’ve done the math on this. It would cost most states about 7 times more to make a child a ward of the state than to just provide assistance to that child’s family.People who say poor kids should be removed from homes are NOT concerned about the financial picture. They are just because classist and ignorant jerks.

A Mockery of Poverty: Rich Tourists Paying to Live Like the Poor in ‘Luxury Shanty Town’ -
Really and truly. Poverty tourism at it’s finest.

20 things the poor do every day - I missed the original piece this is a response to. I don’t think I’m missing anything.

NPR’s Robert Siegel Needs a Reality Check -”According to this year’s Out of Reach report, published by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, in no county in the entire country can someone who works full-time and earns $11 an hour afford a decent apartment. “
While Obama Talks Poverty, Stabenow Agrees to $8 Billion More in SNAP Cuts | The Nation - Yeah, I’ve mentioned this before somewhere…Debbie Stabenow is not an advocate for those facing food insecurity in America

http://ift.tt/1bS9VKE
From Working America on tumblr

10 Little Things We Can Do To Make Life Easier For Each Other -Help people. Don’t call people names on the Internet. Be nice to retail and food service workers.

And am I the only one who thought of Dr Who when I read #1? Where my Whovians at?

This is the source of my frustration on most days. We CAN do these things. Deconditioning isn’t happening fast enough.

Food 

Interview: On Growing Quinoa in America (and Your Backyard!?) with Ian Dixon-McDonald -This is good news for people who like quinoa but want to not make poor people in other countries go without THEIR staple crop because of American foodies want for it.

The Comfort of Cooking » Southwestern Stuffed Spaghetti Squash - one of my family’s favorite ways to eat sketti squash

Recipe: Super Simple & Totally Vegetarian Split Pea Soup -my own recipe that my kids love. It’s too bad split pea soup has to look so gross

Homemade Applesauce Recipe- How to Make it Frugally and Healthy | Penniless Parenting - it really is this easy. As discussed on the page, if you don’t have an electric mixer or blender, a potato masher works just fine.

Cooking With The Classics: To Kill A Mockingbird | The Feed - I’m a major bibliophile & To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my favorites (if my youngest kiddo had been a girl, Harper would have been the middle name after Harper Lee…and we have a cat naed Scout) ,so I loved this post. The recipe for Black-Eyed Peas and Greens is classic and frugal. And I would not judge none of ya’ll for making some of that Lane Cake.

Eat Well, Spend Less: How to Store Pantry Food for Maximum Shelf Life - good info, especially  for those who stock up when they get extra cash (like at income tax return time)

Crock Pot Lentil Soup - sweet potatoes were 39¢/lb the week of Thanksgiving ,so we bought a lot. This was a good use for them.

Non Organic Foods it’s safe to eat - organic foods are just not feasible to buy for some people. These are all “clean” foods that are affordable.

WhyHunger Google+ Hangout talking about #foodjustice and food marketing to kids.

DIY

22 Natural Sore Throat Remedies to Help Soothe the Pain - I’ve used these all at some point.

Detractors seem to think my main objective is to encourage people to “mooch off the government”. Totally off base. The goal is food sovereignty and creating a better system that supports accessibility to food for EVERYONE. The current system? It needs a kick in the teeth. Small scale farming,urban gardens,backyard homesteads,CSAs, community garden plots…. all of these are ways to help everyone have equal accessibility.

Thanks to Seismologik Intelligence for sharing this.

Eco-friendly and green gift wrapping ideas for this holiday season | The Art of Simple -And frugal.

Warm & Fuzzies

Photo: Pictured in the middle is young rap phenom Rich Homie Quan, serving food and helping those in need via the Food Bank For New York City. He's a really good dude and it was a pleasure meeting him. Give Back No Matter What!

Pictured in the middle is young rap phenom Rich Homie Quan, serving food and helping those in need via the Food Bank For New York City. He’s a really good dude and it was a pleasure meeting him. Give Back No Matter What!

Photo: Read/watch the story here: http://cbsn.ws/1hHyTUL

Not only did he give a homeless family a safe place to call home, he brought the family together.The shelter only allowed younger children. The single mom’s older son could not stay in the shelter with them. Now they are a whole family again.
Powerful.
Read/watch the story here: http://cbsn.ws/1hHyTUL

Motivation & Affirmations

(I need this reminder daily)

“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

Only Good Stuff: School kids get to eat for free, City Harvest food rescue, a town gave poor people money and it was awesome, and more…

The good stuff  happening in poverty and food justice….

♥ In September, West Virginia rolled out their non-income qualification free meal program in schools . Now , thanks to  what’s called the Community Eligibility Option, more cities are offering free meals to kids. The program is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that authorized $4.5 billion in new program funding. So far, Boston , Atlanta, Detroit,Washington,D.C. , Grand Rapids, and Elmira . Jacksonville, Florida also has Universally Free Breakfast Program.

♥ I love seeing updates on my Facebook and Twitter feed from City Harvest. This NYC group rescues food that would otherwise be wasted and distributes it to people who need it.
For example:
“Produce can be hard to come by for New Yorkers in need. This morning we’re distributing 19,000 pounds of produce free of charge at our Mobile Market in Washington Heights/Inwood. We’re giving out nectarines, cabbages, peaches, onions and potatoes!”
Photo: Produce can be hard to come by for New Yorkers in need. This morning we're distributing 19,000 pounds of produce free of charge at our Mobile Market in Washington Heights/Inwood. We're giving out nectarines, cabbages, peaches, onions and potatoes!

California is raising their minimum wage to $10 an hour. This isn’t as high as San Francisco’s $10.55/hour or Long Beach’s new proposed $13/hour but booya,California.
minimumwagebanner

♥ Back in the 1970s, a town in Canada did an experiment which involved giving poor people money. The data is just now being put out there…

For four years Dauphin was a place where anyone living below the poverty line could receive monthly cheques to boost their income, no questions asked. Single mothers could afford to put their kids through school and low-income families weren’t scrambling to pay the rent each month.

Initially, the Mincome program was conceived as a labour market experiment. The government wanted to know what would happen if everybody in town received a guaranteed income, and specifically, they wanted to know whether people would still work.

It turns out they did.

Only two segments of Dauphin’s labour force worked less as a result of Mincome—new mothers and teenagers. Mothers with newborns stopped working because they wanted to stay at home longer with their babies. And teenagers worked less because they weren’t under as much pressure to support their families.

The end result was that they spent more time at school and more teenagers graduated. Those who continued to work were given more opportunities to choose what type of work they did.

If a guaranteed income program can target more people and is more efficient than other social assistance programs, then why doesn’t Canada have such a program in place already? Perhaps the biggest barrier is the prevalence of negative stereotypes about poor people.

“There’s very strong feelings out there that we shouldn’t give people money for nothing,”

So here’s some evidence that unconditional benefits make people happier and healthier and do not lead to laziness.

In the period that Mincome was administered, hospital visits dropped 8.5 per cent. An 8.5 per cent decrease in hospital visits across Canada would save the government $4 billion annually, by her calculations. And $4 billion is the amount that the federal government is curren tly trying to save by slashing social programming and arts funding.

aljazeera:

India’s upper house is taking up a massive food security bill that aims to provide heavily subsidised food to two-thirds of the population.

It was approved by the lower house last week.

The bill intends to cover more than 800 million Indians and seeks to address the needs of some of the poorest families.

Each person qualifying for the aid will be entitled to five kilograms of rice, wheat and coarse cereals at a nominal price every month.

The programme has been estimated to bring food subsidy costs up to $19.6bn this financial year, almost $5bn dollars more than current spending.

♥ I’m a month late on celebrating this news but L.A. will now longer be fined for gardening the strip of land between their house and the street.   Hey, thanks, Ron Finley!

♥  A documentary about an educational project called Barefoot University, that offers illiterate women living in poverty an opportunity to train to become solar engineers.

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Know of any positive things happening in the area of food and poverty justice? Use the form below to send me a private email or scroll down to leave a public comment.

Petition to the President to end hunger

When We Deliver Our Petition to the White House Will Your Name Be Included? – Bread Blog

Next Wednesday, I will attend a meeting at the White House and hand-deliver Bread for the World’s petition. We are asking President Obama to set a goal and work with Congress to end hunger.

More than 25,000 people have signed thus far, but we want the strongest possible showing for this meeting with White House staff. Help us get to 30,000 signatures! Please take a moment to add your name to this effort by signing the petition. Once you sign, we’ll keep you updated on our efforts.

Let’s show the president that the movement to end hunger has momentum. Let’s show him that there’s a strong constituency waiting for him to speak up about poverty.

Together we can compel our leaders to show moral courage and work to end hunger. That’s why we started this petition, and that’s why we need your voice.

God’s grace in Jesus Christ moves us to help our neighbors, whether they live in the next house, the next state, or on the next continent. Adding your name to the petition is a simple but powerful way to help your neighbors. Speak out against hunger just as the Hebrew prophets spoke out against injustice in their time.

I invite you to stand with us by signing the petition. I would be honored to bring your name with me to the White House next week.

LaVida Davis is Bread for the World’s director of organizing and grassroots capacity building.

If you can get 10 of your friends to sign, we’ll send you a pack of 10 Bread for the World Christmas cards to say “thank you.” The deadline for signatures is 11:59 p.m. on Monday, August 5. Your friends can indicate that you referred them when signing the petition. You can use Bread’s online petition recruiting page or share the petition usingFacebook.

The War on Poverty…the war on the hungry (and other recent news bits)

Poverty in the news .

One Wisconsin food stamp bill signed while a second remains stalled - That junk food bill Scott Walker introduced is flawed and therefore, faltering. with the new proposal that prohibits more than 15% of groceries brought with EBT from being spent on “unhealthy” food, there are far too many limitations on what can be purchased. The foods that qualify as healthy are only the foods that can be purchased with WIC, which is a limited list.

Georgia food stamp rolls grow

Over 15% of America was on Food Stamps in April 2013

Meanwhile…
Paul Ryan organized The War on Poverty: A Progress Report , in which he  stated that we are losing the war on poverty and need to know why…then called witnesses for the Republicans who made it obvious that they don’t know the first thing about poverty and probably shouldn’t be talking in the first place. University of Maryland professor Doug Besharov, director of the American Enterprise Institute’s Social and Individual Responsibility Project was there to talk about the incentives to get people out of poverty ….but he doesn’t even know what the minimum wage is in the country. The only Democratic witness was a nun, Sister Simone, who defended The Safety Net (welfare programs) and was asked questions about the morality of feeding people.

As David R Henson writes in The Shameful Neighbor: Food Stamps, Stereotypes and the War on the Hungry     “There is no war on poverty in this country. There is no war on hunger.Instead, there is a war on the poor and a war on the hungry.”

-In another article I read this week about poverty being at “shocking” levels, a Professor seemed to think that as the race ratio of poverty balances and more white folks become impoverished, the issue will receive mainstream attention and see solutions manifest. As Hensen points out, the poor are vilified as being lazy, good for nothing , failures and burdens on society that are shamed and ridiculed. I see this happen with poor people, period. The race balance isn’t going to change that.

NYC Mayoral Candidates Talk Food Stamps and School Lunches   I think if I was a New Yorker, I’d pay attention to this in the interest of not ending up with another Bloomberg.

Wal-Mart costs taxpayers about $900,000/year due to low wages - I don’t know if it’s practice anymore but at one point, Wal Mart would routinely urge employees to apply for medicaid and food stamps.

This is fairly true for every fast food and big box corporation. Detroit’s Moo Cluck Moo and Trader Joe’s  are great examples of the exception that should be looked at and emulated,
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