There are hidden faces of hunger in America

The Washington, DC, Food Pantry: The Hunger of Poor Families in the U.S. Capital during the H1N1 Flu Epidemic

Heather Thomas can count out the tragedies that pulled her family of eight into poverty. She lost her job and home, her business folded, she and her husband got into medical debt, and her relatives died.

“Food was really, really, really tight. Because of my husband’s health problems, we occassionally couldn’t eat right. And one of his health conditions ended up getting a lot worse. We were looking for alternatives to diapering. It was really bad.”

Over a million people in the Washington, D.C. region struggled to put food on the table last year. The capital of one of the richest nations on Earth has a third of its population living in it.

“After the height of the H1N1 flu epidemic, it is difficult for many families,” said the CEO of the Capital Area Food Bank. “As we are thinking about how our nation rebuilds in a more equitable and inclusive manner, food and food programs have a really critical role to play.”


The Curbside Groceries: Bringing the most destitute people into the food pantry of Washington’s Ward 8 (Pa.M.)

My husband and I both graduated from college. My husband is a combat vet. We’ve been working since we were teenagers. Over the past several decades, I’ve worked in the human services field. And my husband served the military. She said that he’s worked in different jobs after getting out. “This could happen to anybody.”

Now, Carla helps facilitate distributions of donated food she and her neighbors can use. I distribute food on Wednesday with fresh fruit. I have a few there for a few days. And the rest I buy in Aldi. It’s not expensive. It’s a good price in the Latino supermarket, according to Claure.

Her group distributed more than 64 million meals last year — more than any previous year and double 2019 levels. Meeting the growing needs of the most destitute people has required a fair amount of innovation. The Curbside Groceries is a store that can be found in 12 areas of the food desert. That includes Washington’s Ward Eight, a predominantly Black area with higher poverty whose approximately 80,000 residents have very limited access to full-service grocery stores.

Muthiah said that the distance from school to the grocery store for most of their clients was really quite a distance.


Analyzing Food Insufficiency in the Capital Area: Carla Claure’s Story at Children’s National Hospital, an Inter-Family Food Bank

Lack of access to education, lack of mentorship, lack of access to banks, lack of access to financial instruments, lack of affordable housing, are some of the root causes of food insufficiency. And it’s important, therefore, not just to address things at the surface and some of the symptoms, but also to address these root causes.”

At Children’s National Hospital, the Capital Area Food Bank has set up a food pharmacy so that doctors can prescribe healthy food to complement medical and clinical care.

In good times and bad, Carla Claure peels, cuts and slices the freshest produce and meat she can find for her husband and her teenage daughters Alejandra and Daniela by the dim light of her prefabricated home. “It’s beans, tortillas, maseca — I make my own tortillas — tomatoes and some cheese. It’s good food. It’s good for you. It’s good for the families too,” Claure said as she prepared tostadas.

But fresh fruit, vegetables and meat are also some of the most expensive items at the store. The food budget gets stretched thin when rent is more than a thousand dollars a month.

They both lost their jobs at the start of the pandemic — she couldn’t clean homes anymore due to her clients’ COVID fears, and work stopped at her husband’s construction sites. They relied on food stamps and donated produce.

Some of their neighbors are illegal migrants who are unable to access benefits or are afraid that they will be taken advantage of. “For Spanish [Hispanic] people without documents, whether your kids are citizens or not, you are not able to receive anything else… You are not able to make application for food stamps too,” Claure said. It’s hard for the children because they don’t know why we don’t have food.

Muthiah, the regional food bank chief, says households of color with children struggle the most to put food on the table, with two-thirds of those families impacted by food insecurity.

“You get very protective of the food because you can’t just go out there and get exactly what you want. And sometimes parents don’t eat, or they eat very little, so that their kids can eat,” she said. The junk food and processed food are cheaper than the healthy food. Is there anything wrong with that picture?

Thomas is a person with experience in poverty and wants more like her in policymaking on hunger. She’s already active in that space herself — she and other advocates met with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge last month.

“I would challenge anybody who does have what’s considered a living wage to live on a sub-living wage. Thomas said that they wouldn’t get very far. “You become creative and then you learn how to go without things, like Q-tips and other things that we take for granted become, like, prizes, right — Oh, cool, we got Q-tip money this month!”

The living wage is $36.88 per hour for a family with three children with two parents, according to an MIT database. That’s nearly five times the poverty wage and more than three times the minimum wage.


The London Free School Meals Project – Six Years after Emma Thomas’s Desperately Telling Tale of a Dealing with Low Income Families

Even today, six years after she fell into poverty, Thomas still hesitates telling people she relies on aid for food and housing. She had to fill out all the paperwork to get the benefits she was finally given after two years of hard work.

A quarter of all London pupils, including those in high school, already qualify for free school meals according to national criteria largely based on household income, according to official data.

The £130 million ($156 million) program will run for the academic year starting in September and save families around £440 ($529) per child. It will also help reduce the “stigma that can be associated with being singled out as low income,” the statement added.

The new program is expected to help around 270,000 pupils who are not currently eligible, according to estimates by researchers for the city government.

With inflation near its highest level in four decades, more and more Britons are struggling to make ends meet, with wages and welfare payments being eroded.

The demand for food at food banks increased in December and January by 89% compared with the same period last year according to a survey by the Independent Food Aid Network.

The number of people needing help for the first time, and increase in the number of people needing ongoing support, were reported by almost 80% of food banks. Just over a third of organizations said they had served staff working for the National Health Service (NHS), which has been hit with successive strikes since December over pay and working conditions.

The Easter Team provides food to people who cannot afford it, and is one of the fastest-growing client groups.

Parrish added that the food bank had provided a “record” number of Christmas parcels and modified their usual contents as “clients told us they wouldn’t be able to afford to put ovens on, even on Christmas Day.”


How do UK adults cope with higher food and fuel costs? A new survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that almost half of UK adults are worried about keeping warm during winter

A survey of more than 2,700 UK adults was published by the Office for National Statistics on Monday and found that a fifth of them were worried about keeping warm this winter.

According to a survey done in the month of January and February, some 60% of respondents said they were using less gas or electricity at home to cope with higher food, fuel and energy bills.

People living in cold flats are terrible at keeping their energy budget up, according to Andi Hofbauer.

A survey conducted by the ONS between September and January found that 34% of 25 to 34 year olds had reported borrowing more money or using more credit than usual.

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