Tag Archives: struggling families

Telling our Stories: “I can’t feed my children.”

From Joy Borra, member
UUCA’s Promise the Children Advocacy and Action Group
 

 “I can’t feed my children.  They all went to school today without breakfast, and I had nothing to give them to eat last night,” the mother whispered to me.  She was embarrassed, but she was also  desperate and scared.

“My husband left me a few weeks ago; I have five children and no income.  I applied for food stamps but they will not begin until March 1.  I don’t know what to do…. I have no money; no food; no transportation; no family to help me.”

I met her today when I helped conduct a Listening Session on Hunger in the Old Fourth Ward (O4W) at  Hope-Hill Elementary School. Three other sessions had been conducted with parents of young children in other parts of the O4W; this was the last.

UUCA volunteers are doing much of the support work for the two elected officials for O4W – Kwanza Hall and Joan Garner (a UUCA member) – as they begin a six- month campaign to find practical ways to bring more nourishing food into the tummies of children, their caregivers and the elderly in O4W..

During the Listening Sessions I had heard parents estimate that 80% of the poor families in this neighborhood run out of food the last week of the month.

I had heard that for large numbers of people it was hard to get to Kroger, so they bought expensive, processed junk food from the corner stores with their food stamps.

My interview participants said that 50% of the single mothers with kids in O4W really didn’t know HOW to cook.  And everyone said the money they had wouldn’t stretch to include fresh fruit ($5 for a bag!), or vegetables.

Yes, I heard a lot.

But today I was face to face with the pinched face of  hunger.  Here was a mother with five young children, who did not know where their next meal would come from.

“I’m not asking YOU to help me,” she whispered.  “But do you know where I can go to get free food for my kids?”

I found a Good Samaritan to take her to Kroger for food. I got her connected to the school social worker who can help her with other emergency needs and with long-term support.  When I called her tonight, the mom was less scared, and very grateful.

Why?

Why should a 3-year-old be allowed to go to bed hungry?  “A child has no control over the family he is born into,” someone said in every Listening Session I conducted.

Bill Bolling, founder of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, recently wrote an article lamenting, “Why do we blame the poor for being poor? Feeding them when they are hungry is necessary.  But it is not enough.  We must stand with them and change the policies that hold them in poverty.”

AMEN!!!

Join us

What I saw today was that the social justice work UUCA does is important work!

In UUCA’s Promise the Children advocacy and action group, a growing band of “do-ers” is “doing something” about :

  • Children who go hungry.
  • Children who fall years behind in their schoolwork
  • Children who move from foster care to adulthood with no adult to show them the way.
  • Teenagers who are victimized into prostitution
  • Kids kicked out of school or put in youth jails for being absent or for disrespectful behavior.
  • Poor children who have no healthcare for their physical or mental ills.

You can join us!  Talk to us on Sunday February 16 in the UUCA social hall, email us at promisethechildren@uuca.org , or call me, Joy Borra, at 770-498-2356.

You will fit right in!

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Filed under Child Health--Insurance, Obesity, and Other Issues, Help for Homeless and Struggling Families, Hope-Hill Neighborhood Partnership for Academic Excellence, Our Stories, The Informed Advocate

“Love thy Neighbor” food sharing is Sunday. Then what?

(Read all the posts in this series about food insecurity. Click “like” at the bottom, and you will get them automatically.)

“Love thy Neighbor” food sharing is Sunday.

Then what? 

This Sunday, Nov. 24, many UUCA members will bring food to donate. 

They have shopped for 100 food insecure families in the Old Fourth Ward community.  We’ll pack the food in cardboard boxes, and drive the boxes downtown.  Families will pick the food up from our partner, Operation PEACE.

But, Promise the Children advocates always keep in mind:  This project is not an end;  it must be a beginning.  Even though this is a large food sharing project, next month, the families will be hungry again.

So. What’s next?

It’s pretty exciting! 

On Thursday, December 5,  UUCA will help City Councilman Kwanza Hall host  a “Community Conversation about Food Insecurity in the Old Fourth Ward.”  (10:00 a.m – noon, Fort Street Methodist, 562 Boulevard Ave.)

We expect this will be the first of several conversations aimed at identifying the gaps between all our good intentions and people who still lack adequate food.

If food insecurity is an issue you care about, let us know. We’re building UUCA group to work with the large and varied group  in the Old Fourth Ward – a long-term food project.  

If you have an interest, let us know… this is NOT committing you to DOING anything!  Email PromiseTheChildren@uuca.org.

More  Background:

Food Insecurity.  It means people who don’t have regular access to enough nourishing food for a healthy, active life.

In the Old Fourth Ward, food insecurity isn’t just some fancy words… It lives and breathes; it haunts many residents.

We are concerned about the children who are doing poorly in school because they do not get enough food or the right kind of food at home.

We are concerned about our elders whose often limited incomes and limited mobility to make it hard for them to get enough nourishing food.

There are questions we want to ask:

          –   What is the extent to which hunger is  a problem in the Old Fourth Ward           neighborhood? 

          – What  groups are helping with food and nutrition in our area?  How successful are we being at helping people keep food on their tables?

          – What is missing; where are the gaps? 

          – What can we do together, pooling our efforts,  to bring more food nourishing food to citizens in the Old Fourth Ward? 

Who will be attending the “Conversation about Food Insecurity”? 

          – People who have the experience of not getting enough to eat at the end of the month, when SNAP benefits have run out.

          – Schools, day care centers and senior centers where hungry people gather.

          -And the organizations that provide food – from the food bank to the local churches that serve hot meals.

UUCA’s Role: 

UUCA has worked in the Old Fourth Ward for two decades at Hope-Hill Elementary School. We provide tutors, after school clubs, and other resources that the school lacks. 

For the last two years, UUCA has built a coalition with other churches and neighborhood organizations to make sure that most Hope-Hill students attend summer enrichment programs that feed both their minds and their bodies.

Through a broad community coalition, UUCA will be supporting  a larger  conversation about how to increase the amount of nutritious food  for families of Hope-Hill Elementary children and for the elderly who live in the area.

 

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November 18, 2013 · 4:13 pm

How is Hunger Affecting Students at Hope-Hill Elementary?

Food Insecurity – #3 in a series (Read all the posts about food insecurity. Click “like” at the bottom, and you will get them automatically.  )

How is Hunger

Affecting Students

at Hope-Hill Elementary?

 ( Remember to Participate in UUCA’s Thanksgiving “Love Thy Neighbor” Food Project.  https://promisethechildrenatuuca.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/food-insecurity-1/

 First, a significant number of Hope-Hill students come to school hungry:

 From a  teacher at Hope-Hill:

 “Joy, I have had your initiative on my mind all week.  I love that your church is considering working on Food insecurity.  This is a worth-while effort , and that  Hope-Hill will benefit is a true blessing. 

 “One of the issues I have recognized since my arrival is that a great many of our children come into the school day with anger and discomfort.  A good bit of that is because they are hungry.  They did not get breakfast at home that morning and/or they got no dinner the night before. 

 “I can tell you that I could identify, right now, at least five students are regularly hungry in the fifth grade where I teach, and that’s probably a modest number.”

 ______________________________

How does being hungry affect Hope-Hill Children?

 Child hunger is an educational problem.

 •   Hungry children do more poorly in school and have lower academic achievement because they cannot concentrate.

 • Hungry children have more social and behavioral problems because they feel bad, have less energy for complex social interactions.

 • Hungry children ages 0-3 years cannot learn as much, as fast, or as well, because chronic poor nutrition harms their cognitive development during this period of rapid brain growth. This affects them for life. 

 •  Hungry children are sick more often, and more likely to have to be hospitalized (the costs of which are passed along to the taxpayers). ( from Atlanta Community Food Bank website)

 Being Food Insecure.  It haunts the 658 children in Bedford Pine

There are 658 children under 18 who live in  Bedford Pine  –   many of whom attend Hope-Hill school. Their mothers are mostly single, mostly young and almost all very poor.  Nourishing food at end of month and on weekends (when there is no school) is in very short supply.

Food Insecurity.  Defined as:The limited or uncertain availability of enough food, and nutritionally adequate foods for an active, healthy life.  or “People who aren’t sure whether they’ll have food for dinner tonight.”

__________________________

In the coming days, our PTC Food Insecurity posts will consider: Hunger 101- Why people in Bedford Pine are hungry. The Hows and Whys of SNAP.  A Challenge to live a week on SNAP.  Sources of food for food insecure people. What will we do to change it.

Please follow along, and please, let the subject of food insecurity be a topic of conversation with family and friends and colleagues around you!

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November 7, 2013 · 9:07 pm

Who is hungry in Bedford Pine?

Image

Food Insecure – unable to afford enough food for a healthy life.

In this month of Thanksgiving, UUCA is undertakinga BIG food sharing program ( think of 130 food boxes – a pile 10 ft. long x 4 ft. wide x 5ft high… BIG!!)  This is a project for all and we want you to help!  Details at https://promisethechildrenatuuca.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/food-insecurity-1/

The food we collectwill go to families in the Bedford Pine neighborhood in the Old Fourth Ward.  Very many of the Hope-Hill Elementary students UUCA members tutor live in this very poor neighborhood. 

But, you may ask, WHO is hungry in Bedford Pine? 

 We talked to friends at Operation PEACE who live and work in the area and who know the families well…

“Bedford Pine isa federally subsidized housing project with 689 units and 1368 occupants.  Bedford Pine covers 17 city blocks starting at Boulevard & Wabash Ave to Ponce De Leon Ave.  From Parkway Dr & Wabash Ave to Ponce De Leon.

“EVERYONE who lives here is poor99% of the Bedford Pine families  have income below $10,000.00 yearly,  the Federal category of extreme poverty. 

“Here is what a  typical family faces in Bedford Pine Apartments:

“Megan Berry, who has been looking for employment since June of 2012, is a typical family in Bedford Pine. She has three children and receives $330.00 monthly in AFDC benefits.  For her four-member family Megan also receives $668.00 in SNAP benefits (food stamps). Since she is actively looking for employment, $120.00 out of the $330.00 in AFDC benefits goes back to the government towards child care expenses. (AFDC – Aid to Families with Dependent Children)

“Because SNAP benefits were cut this month (Nov), the Berry family will get $36.00 less.  That means four fewer meals for her and her three children, which of course, will result in little or no healthy food. 

“Megan is typical.  The majority of our residents receive food stamps. They are all  people struggling to put healthy food on their tables,“ explained Edna Moffitt, director of Operation PEACE.

 

Food Insecurity.  Defined as:The limited or uncertain availability of enough food, and nutritionally adequate foods for an active, healthy life.  or “People who aren’t sure whether they’ll have food for dinner tonight.”

Being Food Insecure.  It haunts about 20%  of our neighbors in Atlanta. It haunts MOST of the people who live in  Bedford Pine.  It is a way of life for very many of the children who attend Hope-Hill school.

In the coming days, our PTC Food Insecurity posts will consider: Hunger 101- Why people in Bedford Pine are hungry. The Hows and Whys of SNAP.  A Challenge to live a week on SNAP.  Sources of food for food insecure people. What will we do to change it.

Please follow along, and please, let the subject of food insecurity be a topic of conversation with family and friends and colleagues around you!

Here is a link to a 5 minute PBS story that reveals the struggle to eat and live on minimum wage.  It is excellent.  http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/nation/july-dec13/minimumwage_11-04.html

 

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Filed under Help for Homeless and Struggling Families, Uncategorized

“Will there be enough food for dinner tonight?” Food Insecurity in Atlanta neighborhoods.

Love thy Neighbor empty cupboard(Read all the posts in this series about food insecurity. Click “like” at the bottom, and you will get them automatically.  )

This November, in addition to thinking about FOOD, UUCA will also ponder and act on Food Insecurity in Atlanta.

Food Insecurity:  It means “Not knowing whether you will have enough food for the next meal.”

Thankfully, Food Insecurity is rare within our UUCA walls. But among the children at Hope-Hill Elementary School, food insecurity is a living, breathing factor in daily life. Almost all these children are poor and qualify for both free breakfast and free lunch at school. But will there be food at dinner at the end of the month? Is there food on the weekends? Is it nutritious food?

“Love thy Neighbor – especially when s/he is hungry,”                                               November’s spotlight on hunger, is a TiLove thy Neighbor logome to Learn, A Time to Act.             It is a project for ALL UUCA members.

A Time to Donate and Deliver Food:


On Sunday, November 24, UUCA members will pack and deliver 130 boxes of Thanksgiving and other food to families living in the Bedford Pine low- income community, home to a large number of Hope-Hill children.

How can you participate?
1) You and your family can sign up to shop for Thanksgiving items for one Bedford Pine family. You’ll get a grocery list of items to purchase for no more than $20.

Register here to shop for groceries.

2) If you want to help, but cannot shop, you can make a cash donation. We need to raise some cash to purchase hams or chickens for all those boxes.

Register here to donate money.

3) Volunteer yourself or your family that same Sunday, November 24, to pack boxes with food, add notes written by the RE children, and, if you wish, deliver them. At Bedford Pine the food will be distributed to families with the guidance of friends at Operation PEACE.

Register here to pack boxes.

Learn More About Food Insecurity:
Stop at the “Love thy Neighbor” Social Hall table at UUCA every Sunday in November. There you can sign up to shop for a family. Donate money. Volunteer to pack or deliver food boxes. Learn more about Food Insecurity.

And if you are interested in helping UUCA DO MORE about Food Insecurity, we want to know you!!! Drop a note to: PromiseTheChildren@uuca.org

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Filed under Events, Help for Homeless and Struggling Families, Hope-Hill Neighborhood Partnership for Academic Excellence

Help for Homeless and Struggling Families

The facts about poverty and homeless in Georgia are disheartening.

UUCA, through Promise the Children supports metro Atlanta’s neediest families with direct service ministry. Yet the biggest need is for unremitting advocacy for compassionate policies at both state and federal level.  This is where faith can step into action.

2,100 school-age children and their families are homeless in the City of Decatur and DeKalb County this year. More …

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Filed under Help for Homeless and Struggling Families