SNAP snafu

  Middleincomepoverty often mentions food and food insecurity. Lack of nutritious food causes anxiety and reduces the ability to move out of poverty. Here is a story from awhile ago:  Outside the community services building, I bumped into my friend Rachel. I  stared at the ground, hoping  she wouldn’t see my red puffed eyes and wet cheeks. “Oh Theresa, you look horrible. Here, take this tissue. What is the matter?”. “I am here to get help. I went grocery shopping, and my EBT card failed.” “So tell me what happened” Rachel was sincerely concerned. “I was too embarrassed to tell the cashier I had no other money. And I could not be humilated in front of the other people in line. Just minutes before I had a casual chat with the lady behind me about what I use coconut oil for.” Rachel laughed, “ I bet she said, “Oh, its so expensive” and meanwhile, she had several cake mixes in her cart, right? Probably spending the same amount of money and who would be baking the healthier cake?” Rachel a

Poor feeding the poor - food pantry donations

  My family dedicates two thirds of a large vegetable garden to our home and one third for the  Freeport Food Pantry.  Despite low family income, we share garden spaces, time, and physical energy. Seeds are purchased on sale, and/or Friends donate leftover seeds, coupons to purchase seeds and deliver extra plants (that six pack of peppers is always one or two too many).  The garden provides plants every year as well. We can count on many tomato seedlings, parsley, Russian kale, and an abundance of sunflowers. Parsley and kale usually come up in the same place, but the tomato and sunflowers are all over the garden. If the seedlings are gently lifted in the cup of your hand, they can be resituated.  We try to use only organic seeds and the gardens are nourished with local ingredients, including our yard leaves, grass clippings and semiannual layers of Casco Bay seaweed hauled from up the street.  All year round we toss kitchen vegetable scraps over the garden. Somehow this magical mix pr

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 (8 th 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 We

Greens haul to food pantry

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.
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 Ma