This is just a general round up of things I’ve seen and read lately that pertain to poverty & food security. And oh,yes..some of my thoughts and opinions on those things. My 2 cents are always free here.
The Line documents the stories of people across the country living at or below the poverty line. They have goals. They have children. They work hard. They are people like you and me.
From Chicago’s suburbs and west side to the Gulf Coast to North Carolina, millions of Americans are struggling every day to make it above The Line.
Anyone who has lived below The Line will relate. Will it help people who have never experienced it to understand and want to change things for their fellow humans?
This is a constant source of frustration for me. I hear people say they care about people living in poverty but I don’t feel that they truly understand what it’s like . There’s this persistent mentality in American that exists regardless of political persuasion that people who are poor are poor because they don’t want to change bad enough. It’s their own doing. Want to get out of poverty? Then you have to WANT IT!
This over simplifies the complexities of what creates and keeps people in poverty. It’s also not a very encouraging verbal motivation to offer to the person who lives in poverty. Poverty is depressing and makes people feel bad enough already. Hearing that the only thing stopping them is themselves is not a pep talk , especially when their own impoverished reality is one where seemingly impenetrable obstacles actually do exist.The desire and want to change is there. There are non-imaginary things that make is hard to make those changes once you’re below The Line. People who have never lived it, need to listen to the people who are and have and then imagine how you might feel in that life. The empty speech meant to inspire feels like degrading judgment more often times than not. Take something away from what poor people have to say. Create new words of wisdom from your own mouth and redirect them towards others who need be be made aware and have power to make it easier for those in poverty to change things for themselves.
Melissa Harris-Perry gets it.
“Nothing is riskier than being poor in America.”
I love how passionate and emphatic she is with her guests ,who look as if they don’t know whether to find the nearest exit or slam their fist on the table with her to show solidarity. This is a refreshing change from the disconnected, dispassionate blah blah blah discourse that usually occurs. She’s so eloquent,too. Notice how she didn’t say the word , “Fuck” , not even once! I have to practice that.
This was stated on Fox News during a discussion about “poor” households in America. I believe the point was, people can’t really be poor if they have a refrigerator? People on Fox News must live in an alternate reality where a refrigerator is a magical box that self-replenishes itself with food if you require it to do so. Nifty trick.
And I bet they had refrigerators!
Incredibly true words from Jeff Bridges. The Dude is profound.
Other things of interest…
Food Stamps, Poor-Shaming and the Very Scary 2012 Farm Bill - a great piece on Color Lines about the snap judgments about SNAP recipients and also what the Farm Bill is going to do to people who are struggling with food security.
…LaTisha B., a 25-year-old, black mother of a 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. LaTisha, who asked me not to use her full name, is going to college full-time for nuclear medicine technology. She’s actually a trained phlebotomist, but can’t find work in her field in Columbia, S.C., where she lives. So for now, to feed her kids and herself, she receives $514 a month in SNAP benefits.
“I would love to be a part-time student and work a full-time job, but if I do work they will cut my benefits,” she says. “In my area, the jobs I have access to are customer-service and warehouse jobs. I’ve worked those kinds of jobs; they paid between $9.50 and $11.50. With two young kids, child care alone would be too expensive.”
LaTisha is in a committed relationship with her children’s father, who makes $13.25 an hour as a forklift operator at an non-union warehouse. Before I ask her about marriage, she lays out a cost-benefit analysis of her relationship status.
“My kids have a father who wants to do the right thing, but he’s just not making enough for us to go without our benefits, and overtime just isn’t available,” she says before pointing out that they both lack health insurance. “I feel like we’d be penalized for having a good relationship.”
To feed her family nutritious food, LaTisha buys her groceries at Walmart and a member’s only discount club. Her staples include chicken, ground beef, “starches,” and a wide range of fruits, from apples to mangos, pineapples to honeydew. She hasn’t tried her local Fresh Market, a store that prides itself on “conveying the atmosphere of an old world European market,” because she doesn’t know if they accept EBT. (According to my cold call, they don’t.) If her local farmer’s market began taking her card, she says she would travel 20 miles away to shop there. “Just like the next person, I want to get my kids intro to different things and broaden their horizons.”
Finally, I asked LaTisha what she would like to tell the legislators responsible for the Farm Bill—and people in general—about her SNAP benefits, work ethic, food choices and her life. Here’s what she said. “My biggest issue is the stereotype of people who receive benefits. People who don’t know assume that you have a certain lifestyle, that you’re selling food stamps for a profit. But I’m in a household that needs the benefit. I became a full-time student because of this bad economy and now I need the help,” she says. “I’m not taking it just because I can get it.”
The study by philanthropy.com accumulated data by following the donation patterns of every state. It concluded that people who make between $50,000 and $75,000 a year donated 7.6% of their discretionary income to charity. Conversely, those making $100,000 or more only donated 4.2%.
An even curiouser trend found that if the local population contained 40% of people making $200,000 a year then the donation rates plummeted to a paltry 2.8%.
I’m a Welfare Mom -a piece from Babydust Diaries : “People here say “she’s on welfare” they way they’d say “she kills baby seals”. Mmmhmmm. More than the personal criticism, she touches on the policing of the poor and why we need welfare.
“Why can’t we make someone feel embarrassed for being on welfare?” - Fox News has some of the most enlightening discussions on poverty. Enlightening in the sense that it helps me to understand the mindset that those who strive to change class structure are up against.
To see all posts on my blog related to eating on a SNAP (Food Stamp) budget, go here.
I always welcome comments and suggestions for future topics for future posts , as well as tips to news articles and blogs that relate to food stamps and food justice. If you don’t feel comfortable commenting here on the blog, there are other ways to contact me.