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Messaging about food insecurity and hunger - Q and A

Graduate students at the University of Southern Maine sent out a survey to food security advocates to determine what people think about the messaging around food insecurity and hunger. These are my answers, what do you think and what are your answers?
1. What is your current job title?
Food Security Advocate – self-employed, working with a $15,000 grant funded by several Quaker entities. Grant project: SNAP ReBoot - giving persons in poverty a voice, especially those on SNAP. Interviewing participants, creating a composite paper and bringing the stories to the legislature
2. Where were you born and raised?
Hartford, Connecticut. Raised in Windsor, Connecticut. (And because you can make all kinds of assumptions about this information)… raised by Catholic parents, with 7 siblings. Father (8th grade education) a truck driver and Mom raised children while earning two college degrees, a graduate degree and when her last three children were in high school, she taught at Wesleyan College as an a…

winter frontyard

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Snow covered front yard, resplendent with park benches Gene found on freecycle, and the recycling on front stoop

Greens haul to food pantry

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I bring who I am to my present condition. I live with a below poverty income while continuing to express my values. I believe in giving back and contributing to those who have less, using my gardening talent and knowledge. Neighbors and friends donate seeds every spring. Gene offers a giant garden space, complete with marine clay, lots of sunshine, and somehow no deer. I turn soil, dig, weed. Gene turns soil, digs, mulches. The russian kale and spinach and parsley regenerate every season. The harvest is weekly, plentiful and has granted me the nickname, "kale lady" at our local food pantry. I am reminded that hard work and dedication to greens brings great satisfaction to myself and others who can not afford to buy fresh produce. I am proud of my food pantry hauls.

preparing garden

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Garden in winter

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What is it like to expect to re enter your professional career and be second choice, over and over and over again?   What is it like to share a house with a friend for a decade without contributing to the mortgage, taxes, house repairs? What is it like to watch your retirement savings be eaten by groceries?

What is it like to lose your sense of purpose and sense of self?

Middle Income Poverty is living among middle income family, friends, colleagues, strangers, with a below poverty income. It is struggling to succeed raising a daughter on ten thousand dollars a year (from the court ordered child support), with occasional bits of additional income. It is wrassling the courage to ask for help. It is slugging through two major depressions and several hospitalizations while fighting stress related diseases.  It is being denied a return to the once successful career.

Back in 2004, I left behind my City Planner position. After fifteen years in the land use use planning profession in Maine, …