A Portrait of Hunger
October 14, 2010 9:52 AM   Subscribe

A Portrait of Hunger. A look at poverty and hunger in Philadelphia.
posted by chunking express (12 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
OMFG those comments.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:56 AM on October 14, 2010

Yeah, you shouldn't read those.
posted by chunking express at 9:57 AM on October 14, 2010

.....so of course I had to read the comments,

What the fuck humans?!
posted by The Whelk at 10:00 AM on October 14, 2010

I read the first few comments as well. Because I am a masochistic idiot. People suck.

One of the things that this article makes pretty clear is that while there are resources, the barriers to them can be overwhelming. Transportation, access to decent grocery stores, the ability and energy to navigate the bureaucracy - it's endless. Someone in the comments tossed off something like "How come the kid isn't on Medicaid?" (implication: stupid, irresponsible parent.) I mean, Christ. Anyone here who's spent hours on the phone with, say the cable company or the phone company knows how painful that can be, and it at least lacks the humiliation in telling someone that you need help because you can't provide for your kids.
posted by rtha at 10:25 AM on October 14, 2010 [4 favorites]

It's not just in Philly. It's everywhere. I wonder every time I go into the grocery store- what happens to perfectly edible food removed from shelves due to expiration dates every day? Especially dairy? What happens to all the produce nobody buys? I know there's one major grocery store chain where I live that does support local food banks, but still - there's a ridiculous amount of food going to waste every second of every day.

I hate television commercials advertising food the most - I think it's a reprehensible practice for a variety of reasons. My thought is if you run a restaurant or food franchise and you want local television advertising for the food you serve, you should have to donate a percentage of what you paid to advertise to local food banks

It doesn't take much to experience food insecurity, which can lead very quickly to outright hunger. I was a single mother for the first 4 years of my daughter's life. There were times when paying all the bills + buying enough food + gas for the car was a challenge, and I make comparatively decent money, but throw daycare in the mix and a couple of minor outpatient hospital bills and you can find yourself in dangerous territory faster than you think.

It breaks my heart. I can not imagine having to explain to my child why there's no food. I can't even read this entire article, because I just sit here and bawl. These are the people that deserve a voice and a presence in our government, but they've never had a very loud one and they're not going to get one anytime soon (unless we can replace Christine O'Donnell's chip and re-route her wiring - kind of reverse-Manchurian Candidate or something).
posted by PuppyCat at 10:31 AM on October 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

Those comments are absolutely toxic.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:32 AM on October 14, 2010

Her district includes the poorer sections of the First District, and she said she was "amazed" at the amount of hunger she had seen. "It is the stuff we all should be outraged about, and we're not."

Indeed. And then there's the thing this story doesn't talk about: it is expensive to be poor. Everything costs more, everything requires a deposit, everything has an exorbitant interest rate or fee attached.

The comments are typical of the denial people throw up when a story makes them deeply uncomfortable.

There is a huge human cost to the widening income inequality in our country. When, oh when, are we going to try to restore opportunity, build a real safety net, and shut down the predators whose prey is the poor?
posted by bearwife at 10:36 AM on October 14, 2010 [9 favorites]

The average newspaper website commenter thinks that eating Irish babies is a great solution to the problem of poverty.
posted by GuyZero at 10:47 AM on October 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think as a nation we're gripped by Stockholm Syndrome. People side with the rich against the poor, even when they themselves are unemployed or under-employed, or have gotten government assistance or have gone to bed hungry. What a species we are.

Someone wrote, "McDonald's dollar menu." Seriously? What generosity of spirit.

Also: Why do the Inquirer and D.N. consistently refuse to permit comments on the horrendous black crime stories we read hour to hour?

Because you're a dumbass, my friend, and they know you're going to say something stupid and racist. Because the hypothetical comments on those stories are even worse than the actual stupid comments on this story.

Think of that.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:47 AM on October 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

I know I'm not the only one here who grew up poor, right? My mom was college-educated, but couldn't keep a job, partly because of physical and mental illness and partly because she had two kids in the years long before FMLA. Her maladies practically guaranteed that no employer would want to take a chance on her.

We lived on foodstamps, which always ran out before the end of the month. I was in 5th or 6th grade when I figured out that if we didn't buy a bunch of Coke and Cheetos and other brand-name stuff early in the month, we'd have a little more leeway at the end of the month. I didn't say anything about it, though. My little brother really liked the party we had early every month and I didn't want to feel like a jerk for ruining it.

Shopping with my mom was always a chore, because she had a habit of walking around the store eating out of a bag of chips or cookies or crackers. It was so embarrassing. I hated it. This was at a time when foodstamps were literal stamps, not a debit card that you could use without being humiliated. I was always jealous of the kids whose moms wrote legitimate (to me they were more legitimate anyway) checks at the grocery store.

Somebody here asked what happens to the groceries that expire on the shelf and I don't know the answer to that question, but I can tell you that my friends and I used to know the shift-change schedules at the grocery stores in my hometown. Why? Because we were thieves. See, some of the employees at the store would take home the spoilage at the ends of their shifts. A lot of things weren't actually spoiled, but they'd get marked on the inventory as waste. They'd leave the spoiled items out on the loading dock to ease end-of-shift pickup. Only we'd get there first.

What did we take? It was usually sweets. Cases of Snicker bars, I remember. Cases of those tubes of peanut butter cookie dough (still can't abide the taste of a peanut butter cookie). Remember that chocolate pudding that came in a can? Thank-You brand, I think. We got tons of that stuff. Just the thought of it makes me feel a little light-headed. Uck.

Mom died when I was 16 and I was sort-of homeless from January 1985 until June of that year. I went off to college, got married to a respectable guy, and we're not crusty broke-ass drifters anymore. Sometimes I wonder if we could still live on that month-to-month foodstamp schedule.
posted by S'Tella Fabula at 1:13 PM on October 14, 2010 [11 favorites]

Can I state the obvious? It's criminal that the USA ignores starving children.

Charter schools will not solve this problem. And the tea party comments
following the article are simply beyond belief. I didn't know people were
so callous. I'm old enough to know better, but my faith in the goodness
of humanity blinds me to this mindless hatred against the starving.
posted by kozad at 6:12 PM on October 14, 2010

If you must read those comments, please remember that not everyone in the Delaware Valley is like that.

Also, echoing what rths said - it is really difficult to navigate this (public assistance) system, especially when you're new to the system. The offices are far-flung, and have limited hours. You have to get there somehow, despite not having any money—even if you have a working phone, you have to come to the office in most cases. Repeatedly.

There are clinics that will treat kids on Medicaid and/or CHiP, but they are not around the corner, and the waiting lists can be enormous, and if you don't have a phone, it's a trial to get an appointment.

Being poor is terrible not least because extreme poverty cuts you off from the very resources that might help you weather your financial woes.
posted by Mister_A at 10:38 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

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