by Willie Matis
An article written in the Washington Post that published on Tuesday was shared around the web a lot by hunger relief agencies yesterday.
Titled This is what happened when I drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps, it tells a very powerful story of how quickly anyone can find themselves facing poverty and hunger.
A snippet from Darlena Cunha’s piece: Two weeks before my children were born, my future husband found himself staring at a pink slip. The days of unemployment turned into weeks, months, and, eventually, years.
Then my kids were born, six weeks early. They were just three pounds each at birth, barely the length of my shoe. We fed them through a little tube we attached to our pinky fingers because their mouths weren’t strong enough to suckle. We spent 10 days in the hospital waiting for them to increase in size. They never did. Try as I might, I couldn’t get my babies to put on weight. With their lives at risk, I switched from breast milk to formula, at about $15 a can. We went through dozens a week.
In just two months, we’d gone from making a combined $120,000 a year to making just $25,000 and leeching out funds to a mortgage we couldn’t afford. Our savings dwindled, then disappeared.
I really suggest reading the entire article. Darlena’s honesty about coming from a place where it seemed “harder to fail than to succeed,” and then proclaiming the looks, the judgement, and the disgust on many people’s faces when she showed up in her husband’s Mercedes to pick up her food stamps.
But it wasn’t a toy — it was paid off. My husband bought that car in full long before we met. Were we supposed to trade it in for a crappier car we’d have to make payments on? Only to have that less reliable car break down on us?
When talking with Tiffany, our on-site Food Pantry Coordinator, she said she sees this all too often. It’s families where a parent is working 3 jobs, a child who just went out on his own, or even a grandparent who had it made but now has to raise her grandchildren. The food pantries and shelters we distribute to, see people like Darlena come through daily. You can be the difference between this person having nowhere to turn and feeling a bit of dignity by being able to put food on the table.
One of the more powerful lines in the article was this, “We didn’t deserve to be poor, any more than we deserved to be rich. Poverty is a circumstance, not a value judgement.”
Read Darlena Cunha’s full piece here.