“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 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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org , or call me, Joy Borra, at 770-498-2356.
You will fit right in!