September 26th, 2011
09:30 AM ET
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Deborah Feyerick is a CNN correspondent. See part one of this series Witnesses to Hunger: A portrait of food insecurity in America and read producer Sheila Steffen's $30 grocery challenge

Six-year-old Juvens Lewis jumps on the scale, his tiny body lost in a flowing hospital gown. He weighs in at 37.2 pounds, the size of an average 4-year-old. Giggling, he heads back to his examining room as sounds of children filter into the busy hallway. All are getting check-ups at Boston Medical Center’s Grow Clinic, which treats underweight and malnourished kids.

“People think about acute malnutrition and they may look at Somalia. What we see is chronic malnutrition, stunted growth, kids that are the size of a 1-year-old when they’re 2 years old,” says Dr. Megan Sandel who treats Juvens adding, “They’re not going to be able to make up for that for the rest of their lives.”

And the problem is getting worse. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 17 million children live in households struggling to put enough food on the table. Juven’s mom Rolande Decossa works part time, earning less than $10,000 a year. Though she receives food stamps to supplement her income, she says after paying rent there’s not a lot of money left.

“I’m shaking my head like crazy,” she says wondering, “How am I going to buy food for my kid?”

Emergency rooms in Boston are seeing a spike in underweight children 5 and younger. In cities like Baltimore, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Little Rock, Arkansas, numbers of malnourished kids have doubled in the last two years, doctors say, largely because of the recession.

“Some kids it’s obvious. You can count their ribs. Their arms and legs look skinny. Their heads look too big,” says Dr. Deborah Frank, who runs the Grow Clinic and who treats dozens of children a week.

Frank moves rapidly from room to room, picking up charts, weighing, measuring and closely examining each small patient. She is a woman on a mission to stem the effects of hunger and its damaging effect on brain development during the crucial growth years of zero to five.

“The scary thing,” Frank notes, is that “even when you re-feed the kids and get them going again and physically growing, you find deficits in their learning and behavior all the way into high school.”

Doctors find children who don’t get proper food in the early years are more vulnerable to illness. They get sick more often and stay sick longer with chronic health conditions. They may test lower in math and reading and as a result fall behind in school. They also experience emotional problems like anxiety and depression.

“You’ll often see a mom trying to feed a whole family of kids with a package of French fries and a soda which is nutritionally awful but it makes the kids feel full - the fat and the bubbles,” says Frank who sees parents who skip meals and give their share of food to their children.

Nearly 40 million people received food stamps in the summer of 2010 - and the number is growing. Some in Congress are now talking about cutting or ending nutrition programs like SNAP, commonly known as food stamps, and WIC.

Frank believes the consequences could be devastating, “It’s sort of like me saying we’re about to have a plague epidemic, so the government is cutting back on immunizations and antibiotics to save money just as the plague is hitting.”

Boston Medical Center recently opened its own pantry where doctors write food prescriptions. Says Dr. Sandel, “When we first set up the program we through we were going to serve 500 families a month and last month we served 7,500. So you can imagine we are handing out over 70,000 bags of food every single month.” It's a trend at food pantries nationwide.

See part one of this series Witnesses to Hunger: A portrait of food insecurity in America and read producer Sheila Steffen's $30 grocery challenge

Watch American Morning weekdays 6am to 9am ET. For the latest from American Morning click here.

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Filed under: Content Partner • Food Politics • Hunger • News • SNAP • TV-American Morning

soundoff (103 Responses)
  1. lawilson5589

    This topic always seems to cause such intense debate. Clearly the system is not working. There is certainly a percentage of people fraudulently using these benefits out of selfishness, laziness, and often drug addiction. That ought to make everyone angry. Unortunately there is a far greater percentage that truly don't know any other way. I think too many people fail to realize that budgeting, shopping, meal planning, cooking, and time management are skills that need to be learned, they are not automatic. Some of those who were fortunate enough to have had those lessons since childhood don't seem to realize how difficult it is for someone who hasn't had that guidance. It is also no longer part of the curriculum in most schools.It could make such a difference if iThis topic always seems to cause such intense debate. Clearly the system is not working. There is certainly a percentage of people fraudulently using these benefits out of selfishness, laziness, and often drug addiction. That ought to make everyone angry. Unortunately there is a far greater percentage that truly don't know any other way. I think too many people fail to realize that budgeting, shopping, meal planning, cooking, and time management are skills that need to be learned, they are not automatic. Some of those who were fortunate enough to have had those lessons since childhood don't seem to realize how difficult it is for someone who hasn't had yhat huidancr.nstead labeling theThis topic always seems to cause such intense debate. Clearly the system is not working. There is certainly a percentage of people fraudulently using these benefits out of selfishness, laziness, and often drug addiction. That ought to make everyone angry. Unortunately there is a far greater percentage that truly don't know any other way. I think too many people fail to realize that budgeting, shopping, meal planning, cooking, and time management are skills that need to be learned, they are not automatic. Some of those who were fortunate enough to have had those lessons since childhood don't seem to realize how difficult it is for someone who hasn't had that guidance. Instead of labeling these struggling parents as lazy losers, those who are so outraged could take a few share some of their experience and wisdom. It would help so much in the short term and and empower these parents to do better for the next generation.

    June 14, 2014 at 5:06 pm |
  2. zoltanwelvart

    All the money in the world cant buy good food lords land worn out food brightly colored.operations now popular, for a price.fertilize inert , clean .medium. with green water from shallow canals, like mayans.feed your water, with mined pla kton from existing tunnels below bottom of inland I make no sense?

    March 14, 2014 at 11:25 am |
    • zoltanwelvart

      If you don't feed elements to soil the medical(matasano)industry wi.l go out of meth.i can see the near future .

      April 16, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
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    June 30, 2013 at 11:11 am |
  4. Candace

    Most of the women who they profiled in Witness to Hunger are very damaged young girls from foster care – one said she keeps having babies so she will have someone who loves her. I want to be angry but I think the better choice would be to go after the ones who are fathering these children. Get their DNA and deny them any kind of benefits until they they make an effort to support these children. Make them show they are applying for every city test that comes up or tell them to enlist.

    September 27, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • Candace

      And make them come in for drug tests monthly – if they don't show the benefits get cut off. If they fail it the benefits get cut off.

      September 27, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  5. Ron

    Some interesting facts from my local food bank (Food Bank of Alaska):
    – 74,000 unique visitors per year (in a state of 600,000)
    – 15,000 unique visitors per week
    – 42% of their clients have a child under 18 at home
    – Among households with children, 30% are single-parent households

    The first two points indicate that they turn their client base over almost five times per year. In other words, the average recipient uses the Food Bank for ten weeks. The third point suggests that we're dealing half with families and half with unemployed or underemployed adults. They also note an average household size of 2.5, so again, their clients aren't exactly serial breeders; in fact, I would expect families with children to be over-represented here, because there's more of an imperative to swallow one's pride and ask for help. The last point helps to answer "where are the fathers?"; most of them are right there with the rest of the family.

    September 26, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  6. Mother of three

    I raised my three children with a "grocery" budget of $300 a month (which included paper products & cleaning products). So, that means a minimum of two meals a day, 5 people = $15 per week per person (remember that included toilet paper, napkins, paper towels, laundry detergent, etc.). I did this without any public assistance; indeed, without any type of assistance. I shopped store ads and clipped coupons, and I'm not one of those super coupon people either. My children grew up eating healthy food. They are tall and slender, with no health issues. Now it's just my husband and me, and our college age daughter who is back home for a few months, and my "grocery" budget is about $200 a month. That's around $17 per person per week for a minimum of one meal a day, plus the aforementioned paper products and cleaning supplies.

    Why was/am I able to do this, but someone on public assistance who gets $900 in assistance for 6 people can't seem to buy enough food to feed her family? Are they buying the wrong stuff??

    I remember working part time in a grocery store and seeing people come in with their food stamps. They were buying a lot of convenience foods (expensive, not good nutrition!), expensive cuts of meat I could only buy as a treat, lots of pre-packaged junk. They would have a mile long register receipt, and then when they were done paying for their overpriced junk with taxpayer dollars, they whipped out a wad of cash for cigarettes!

    If I sound resentful, it's because I AM. I pinched pennies and clipped coupons and fed my kids homemade fare from whole foods on a food budget smaller than public assistance apparently affords so that a big chunk of MY money goes to pay for foodstamps for people who complain it's not enough. I wish I'd had THAT food budget.

    September 26, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Tired of Meritocracy and Lack of Mercy

      @ Mother of 3:

      You say "I raised three children with a $300 budget". How long ago was that? In my town, 12 years ago, I used to pay $1.15 for a gallon of milk (store brand), 2 for $2 on sale. Today, at the same store, $2.99/gallon. I have two boys and when they hit a growth spurt we go from 3 gallons of milk/week to 5. That is just milk. We used to get chicken at the store for peanuts. Today one cannot get a whole chicken for less than $5-$6. A dozen eggs back then was $0.75, 2 dz for $1 on sale. Just yesterday, $2.04. So, again, how long ago did you feed three kids plus yourself for $300/month?
      Easy to criticize without Ms. Perspective at the party.

      Also for the folks "well, just get two or three jobs": easy to say when you're not wearing those shoes. When are you gonna be a parent? When are you gonna cook? Are you guys not seeing the absurdity of the number one nation in the world requiring their people to juggle two or three jobs, not even see their kids, to be able to make ends meet? Really? We need to wake up, shake whatever is dividing us up, hold hands together and grow as a nation. And folks complain of the stale mate in Washington.

      September 26, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
      • Mother of Three

        My first child was born in 1984, the youngest in 1989. They started off to college in 2002, 2004 and 2007. The youngest is currently living at home, but purchases some of her own food.

        September 26, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
      • Mother of Three

        I should maybe mention that I was a stay-at-home mom for several years, then I worked part time. I gardened and preserved a lot of food that I grew and also bought at the Farmer's market. I learned to can because I needed to. So I did save some $$ at the grocery store that way.

        September 26, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • Aloisae

      On the other hand, your children ate a more nutritious diet even though you had less money to spend. Additionally, they learned what a frugal, nutritious diet is like and the strategies to feed their own families nutritious food no matter what their food budgets are like. Personally, as an adult I'm grateful that I grew up in a similar family rather than bitter about it. Many of those people you saw making poor choices on how to feed their families in a nutritious and cost effective way probably don't have any experience or knowledge on how to do so.

      September 26, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
      • Mother of Three

        I think you are right. I grew up with frugal parents, and learned how to stretch a dollar from them, and how to buy nutritious food. I learned to cook and bake at age 10, and took over those duties completely at 13. We were in the military when I was growing up, so there wasn't much money. I still prefer fresh fruit to cookies (although I DO love warm from the oven, homemade cookies!) I can't imagine not being able to feed my family of 5 (me, husband, three kids) on what I had ($75 per month, per person). How in the world can people not feed their families on what amounts to twich as much per person what I had, and that's all for food, not even the other stuff. How can we help them learn if they didn't learn if from their parents?? Even now, I spend less than $100 per person per month for food, paper, cleaning supplies, etc. We eat leftovers for lunch, and sometimes supper too. And seldom any convenience foods, it's all homemade. Oh, and I work full-time and can afford more, I just don't need to spend more.

        September 26, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • happi75

      Listen to YOURSELF!!!! You say your current budget for a family of 3 is 200 a month for ONE meal a day. Appearantly you must eat out the other 2 meals and snack. The 900 a month budget for a family of 6 in florida is for 3 meals a day and 1 snack per person, without eating ANY meals out.
      Do the math, or do you not have the education to do the math? Your budget for 3 is 200 a month for 1 meal a day. So you would have to double that for a family of 6 making it 400 a month for 1 meal a multiply that by 4 to get 3 meals a day and 1 snack a day for all those people...that would equate to $1600 a month according to YOUR OWN budget. How pitiful you sound to be bashing someone for trying to make ends meet on 900 a month when you have just shown us they need 1600 a month to eat 3 healthy squares a day and provide a snack a day.

      September 26, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  7. Mah

    I love how the racism comes out whenever we are talking about people's children, or people living in poverty. There's more white people on food stamps and other govt programs in the US than people of color, guarenteed. You dont know a person's situation just by looking at them. I'm so sick of hearing this "poor people are just too lazy, unemployed are lazy, there's plenty of jobs" that's a lie. There are some who are lazy, who make bad choices with their money, sure. But if you look at the majority of people they are honest people and telling them "maybe you should get 2 more jobs" isnt fair. The income inequality in this country is at an all time high, but poor people should work 80 hours a week so they never get to sleep or see their families. What a joke. Who wants to live like that. America is the only developed country where people need 2 to 3 jobs to survive, that's a joke. That's not the greatest nation. We need to take care of our people better.

    September 26, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Candace

      A good part of the problem is that the media will put deliberately put a minority face out there. I've noticed that when some paper or website profiles people in this situation, they will profile a young unwed minority mother and a white laid off Wall Street worker (just a typical example). I'm not sure why but they do. I guess to stir the pot and get people's attention.

      September 27, 2011 at 9:59 am |
  8. Aniram

    our children are grown and out of the house so its just me and my husband. The first thing i say to him when i get home from the grocery store is " i don't know how families with children even afford food these days."

    everything has skyrocketed in price – its not affordadable for most people.

    September 26, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  9. happi75

    Let's just do the math here since you want to complain about people receiving food stamps. A family of 6 (4 children and 2 adults) would receive 900 dollars a month food stamps in the state of Florida. There are at most, 31 days per month. That equates to 29 dollars a day for this family of 6. Divide that by 6 family members and you now have alloted 4.83 per person per day. Divide that by 3 meals a day and a snack and you get $1.20 per person, per meal, per day. If we are feeding a child living in poverty every day for just $1.20, I would say that is pretty dang good, and those of you complaining, are greedy selfish glutuness excuses for human beings that want to hide the fact of how you really are by whining about this issue of food stamps for the less fortunate. And NO I do NOT receive food stamps, but I do go out of my way each day to do something nice for my fellow man (woman or child) and I do NOT expect anything in return. Its called helping those that cannot help themselves, and its not about "lazy adults" that may not want to work....its about feeding the children in OUR own country that would otherwise go without food in their tummies and the reasons why they are going hungry are numerous and actually moot, given the fact they are children and they are hungry. Stop your selfish greedy whining about the less fortunate, and DO something about it. Spend a dollar to buy a bag of food at your local grocery store that will be donated to a food bank.

    September 26, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • Tired of Meritocracy and Lack of Mercy

      @happi75: Thank you for your post. As I say, one can always choose to be either part of the solution or part of the problem.

      So, folks, ask yourselves this: "What did I do for someone today? How can I bring up to speed my fellow neighbor so we can all grow together as a nation?"


      September 26, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Ron

      There's nothing wrong with donating food, but food banks will gladly take cash donations as well. Any decent-sized city throws away perfectly good food because the producers don't know the food bank will accept it, or the food bank doesn't have the transportation or manpower to move it from producer to consumer. Our local food bank says that they average five pounds of food for every dollar donated. That's at least a day's worth of food for a grown adult, so five bucks could easily keep a kid fed for a week.

      September 26, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  10. Tired of Meritocracy and Lack of Mercy

    First of all: not all unemplyed folk is lazy
    Second: what fault are the kids facing hunger in this country?
    Third: go check and see the flood of job ads that specifically states "Must not apply if current unemployed"

    So, yes, there are rotten apples that pop now and then but I can guarantee all of you: it is not the majority. Let's all take a step back from Judgement Road and try to be more united in solving the problem instead of rushing to throw the first rock. Emergencies can happen that will turn your life upside down and one might hit a ton of walls. Why all the hate? Why not "wait a second: we're all one so how can we make this work?"

    Peace, folks.

    September 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  11. Andrew

    Their are food banks out there who will surely make any family with kids a priority, the problem is these mothers and fathers don't give their kids priority, they give their addictions, hair products, and rims priority.

    September 26, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Joel

      That's a misinformed statement. In the article the parent has to make choices based on limited options. If she feeds her kid, she loses a place to live. If you lose your shelter, it's a slippery slope to losing income and stability. She pays the rent at the expense of her kid. This is another effect of the housing bubble. Out of this world property values increase the taxes which increase the rents which overburden the renters. The renters then have to make a serfs choice, eat or pay rent?

      September 26, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
      • Aloisae

        According to the article, the woman is receiving food stamps. "Food stamps" refers to what is now the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (which no longer issues "stamps" but rather a card that works like a debit card when buying groceries. Please note the "when buying groceries" part. These cards can NOT be used to pay one's rent so how these funds are used can't be a choice between paying the rent or buying groceries with these funds. They also can NOT be used to buy tobacco or alcohol or even cleaning supplies and personal hygiene products. While they can be used to buy food items that aren't economically or nutritionally sound (ie. snack foods, soda, etc.), all that they can be used for is food. It doesn't say how much she receives in food stamps, but whatever it is should be directly spent on food for her child (at least the portion that she receives on his behalf) or else she is not just committing fraud and stealing from taxpayers but she is also stealing food from her child.

        September 27, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
      • Aloisae

        By the way, I wasn't implying that that particular woman is participating in fraud or misusing her benefits. Just that food stamp money is there to buy food and only to buy food and that not using it to do so can't be justified because of housing costs (in fact, one of the purposes of SNAP is to free up what other income the family has to pay other expenses by supplying some money for food, avoiding the "food or rent" issue with the food stamp funds). Again, we have no idea how much this particular woman receives in benefits, but in 2010 the average food stamp benefit in Massachusetts (which I'm assuming is where they live given the Boston Medical Center reference) was $129.70 per person per month. Access to places to buy reasonably priced, nutritious options or ways to cook/store food and the lack of knowledge and experience in doing so are more of an issue for somebody receiving that average amount than lack of funds for food per se.

        September 27, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Shade

      Andrew your statements are slander. You have no clue if these folk have addictions or not. Food banks are only open at certain times and if you are working you can not affoprd to take off to get food because then you have missed a day a work and you can not afford that. Food Stamps are not enough to feed most families.

      September 26, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
      • Rico_Suave

        You have no clue either. In fact none of us has a clue because the story has so little information. How much does she get in food stamps? She can't get a full time job? Where's the dad?

        Andrew's speculation is just as likely as anything else.

        September 26, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Aniram

      i'm sure you are correct that some parents don't put it as a priority – but if you are trying to say this is the root of this problem – then your head must be so far up your a$$ and you must be so far out of touch with reality.

      would love to know where you live and what the source of your information is? or did you just make it up becasue that's what you think the problem is?

      September 26, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • David

      I take it you have never met a low income family before. Food stamps cover nothing. The cost of living is so inflated that a single mother with children would have to have by my guess ~$400 in food stamps per month. Do you think the government gives them that much? Do you think that covers anything other than wonder bread and canned spaghetti? My point being, not every low income family is drug-addicted. I have met more drug-addicted kids from wealthy families, than I have drug-addicted families.

      September 26, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
      • Candace

        David, food stamps cover everything in the grocery stores except for store prepared food like rotisserie chicken. I'm sure they can buy more nutritious stuff than canned spaghetti and Wonder Bread. WIC covers bread, milk, eggs, and cheese. Even though I never was on assistance, my kids were home from school a few hours before I got home from work and they grew up on Wonder Bread, frozen pizza and Spaghettios and they are healthy, strapping young men now.

        September 27, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • iris

      You're biassed and classist statement is sickening. My family receives food stamps and I have not addictions or luxuries. I neither smoke nor drink, and I don't wear make up at all or color my hair or do my nails. i haven't even been able to afford a dollars cuts hair cut in over a year and have been trimming my hair and my children's hair myself. I buy only used cloths for myself and children and have bought no cloths for anyone in the family for over a year. My husband works between 60 and 80 hours a week for rich bastards,, who ignorantly think that the nickels and dimes they trow at him for his hard and high quality painting work, is generous,since after all he's a foreigner, so deserves no better. I my self am a full time student with young children at home all day that I have to care for since we can/t afford pre-school or daycare. I sleep an average of 3-5 hours per night. You have no idea how hard my husband and I work every single day with no break and no relief. I'd wager that you'd not last 3 days living like this with all of your luxuries. Bigot! I hope someday you loose all your money and have to experience poverty. Then all your judgements and stereotypes will do nothing for you

      July 15, 2013 at 3:34 am |
  12. Andrew

    How does this happen in the United States of America today? I can feed my kids enough to get by and even get fat for just a few dollars. Their must be something more to this story. CNN is not giving you the truth here, they are trying to create an idea that these people just can't afford food. After addictions, they can't afford food maybe. Foodstamps alone are enough to get a kid all the nutrition they need. CNN is not reporting the addictions that these parents are suffering under. They are sugar coating this to make it seem as though people are actually starving because their is not enough government their to take care of you. Bologna, Bananas, Eggs, rice, all cheap foodstuffs that these parents were to drugged up to buy.
    The problem is with the system giving too much out, these people have gotten used to welfare, and now they need it just for their addictions.

    September 26, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • Aniram

      then you should be very happy with your situation. Do you live on poverty level? ($10k annual for a family of 4)?
      As far as getting fat – maybe you should cut back a little and give a little more to the food bank.

      September 26, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
      • Rico_Suave

        Why do you automatically assume that everyone on food stamps is a family of 4 living on $10K? Why not a famliy of 3 living on $18K?

        I think there is more than enough money in the food stamp program to give all the poor people an adequate amount, but there are a lot of people who are not poor who are also getting food stamps.

        Of course, there is no way to know either way because this series is so devoid of facts.

        September 26, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Bookdoctor

      Andrew have you ever tried to buy inexpensive nutritious food in a poor area? Or in an inner city? It is really hard to find cheap food when you don't have a car.

      September 26, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
      • Ron

        Exactly. It's easy to talk about growing your own vegetables, hitting three different stores to find the best prices, and shopping on Double Coupon Tuesday. The working poor, however, have no time for such things. They're working two jobs (or, in many places, trying in vain to find work) and riding the bus to get there; they have neither the free time nor the transportation to run all over town.

        And as much as I enjoy home farming, it is a luxury of the upper-class. Assuming you even have a deck or yard to grow in, farming takes a lot of time. A small plot may take 30 minutes a week to maintain, but the payoff is too sporadic to depend on for one's regular diet. A large plot takes several hours per week of watering, feeding, and so forth; for everyday vegetables like lettuce and carrots, on the scale that most households would do it, home farming pays well below minimum wage.

        September 26, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Aniram

      you seem like such an angry guy, andrew

      September 26, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
  13. N. Margaret

    Who tells these women to have kid after kid after kid with several different fathers? And yes, where ARE the fathers? "If you can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em." I, too, as a retiree on a fixed income, am damned sick and tired of feeding other people's kids. The Bible says "the poor you shall have with you always," but I am tired of caring for every shiftless bum who can't/won't get a job. Sterilize them.

    September 26, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • happi75

      WOW you REALLY are one angry individual. You have not a clue how terrible your posts makes you sound as a fellow human being. You scream sterilize them. HA. Medicare will not sterilize at will. I know of one young girl who got pregnant her first time at age 14 and by age 18 she had 4 kids. She begged and begged to have her tubes tied by each of her doctors after each delivery, but was told each time, medicare will not tie tubes until after the age of 21. By the time she was 21 she had 2 more kids for a total of 6. Poverty breeds poverty. The cycle must be broken. So take your angry greedy nasty remarks, and rethink who you are as a person. Don't justify your selfishness by asking why she got pregnant so many times. We already know why. We as human beings are also sexual beings and it is nature. Sure there are birth control measures that can be taken, but one must be taught about them as a young woman coming up in her teenage years. Someone must pay for them to be taught. We as a nation must help those that cannot help themselves, and stop with the ugly remarks that only serve to cover up the fact that you are a greedy uncaring unkind person.

      September 26, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Shade

      I agree folk should not have kids they can not afford to feed; however, not everyone has lots of kids and they have only one father. You have jkids some of whom are born to in to religious families and those families see kids as blessings, thus they have a lots of kids and do not believe in birth control.

      September 26, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • JohnnyJett and the Dirty Socks

      Crochety old bag. You abviously never had a rough time, if you did you wouldn't be slinging it the way you are. A low income couple has just as much right to have kids and the rich ones. If there we're no low income families no one would serve you or do the crap you don't want to do. Be thankful for what you have, and kindly shut up.

      September 26, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
      • Ann

        Sure, low income folks have the same "right" to reproduce, but what happened to the idea of responsibility? It is irresponsible to have more children if you can't properly support the ones you already have. I support the idea of easy access to birth control, including abortion if needed. If you don't believe in birth control and/or abortion, then – here's an idea! – DON'T HAVE SEX. Imagine that!

        That's not a moral argument at all, by the way. It's purely practical. Everyone – poor, rich, and in between – needs to decide which is more important to them, the freedom to have unprotected sex, or the desire to not get pregnant. Choose whichever you wish, but be responsible for the consequences. (And yes, I do consider abortion to be the responsible choice in some situations.)

        September 26, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Aniram

      Where are you getting your informaion about women having kids after kid? you are making up stories in your own mind.

      get your head out of your a$$ and go out in communities to see what's going on. I have a funny feeling you watch tv and read newspapers for all your info. Not good enough!

      September 26, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  14. Daywalker54

    I've worked at food banks where women come in with $200 weaves in their heads, fake eyelashes and gaudy jewelry and the kids look like refugees. There's a line that needs to be drawn but it needs to start with the parents and where they're spending the money that comes in....MANY people trade food stamps for cash.

    September 26, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Aniram

      i'm sure there are a few that do that – but its not the norm.

      September 26, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  15. lucie

    My husband and I were laid off from a job that included housing during the recession of the early 90's. We had two children and were three weeks from welcoming our third child. We were now unemployed and homeless. Through the help of family, community, and government agencies we were able to start over. We did accept food assistance from WIC which provided coupons for certain nutritional foods for the children. This wonderful organization also did health screenings and found that my daughter was low in iron. They provided nutrition counseling and taught me which foods and combination of foods would increase and maintain adequate iron levels and other information on nutrition. We also accepted "government food" (don't know the correct name of this program) which consisted of 2 bags of groceries a month. Without this assistance for a year we would not have been able to adequately feed our family. These are the types of programs that I want my taxes to fund.

    September 26, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • K

      You pay taxes?

      September 26, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
      • pw

        Did you even read their comment? This was in the 1990's. 20 years ago. I'm sure they're paying taxes now.

        September 26, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Samuel21

      I'm very glad that you were able to get the help you needed. I hope things are well for you now.

      September 26, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  16. Cara

    Its easy to say "grow a garden" when you live in florida but when you live in texas where the soil is rocks, have only had 2 days of rain in four months and the insects eat everything you try to grow, its not that simple. besides, you cant live on tomatoes and peppers alone. i think people are more worried about protiens and other substance that will actually fill you up. get a clue.

    September 26, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Frumunda Yore Rahk@Cara

      Awww pooooor baby. Was that what you wanted to hear? Well there you go. Can't grow vegetables where you live? Condition your soil. Grow plants indoors. Do some research on the internet (that's where you posted your comment FYI). Other wise "... move to where the food is!" (S. Kinison).

      Get a clue yourself idjit.

      September 26, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Aloisae

      Part of the problem however is that many people in our country don't understand what foods can relatively inexpensively provide "protein and substance". Lentils and rice, for example, are extremely filling and nutritious, providing a complete protein, and are very inexpensive. Add in some inexpensive veggies (onions, carrots, celery, greens) and a couple dashes of dried spices and you have a great meal that, in my part of the country based on my grocery bill, costs about $1 per person while providing enough left over to be thinned out with some homemade veggie broth (I make mine from "scraps" left over from other meals.. the ends off celery/carrots/onions etc. and the parsley my local market gives free to customers buying fresh produce) to make a soup for another meal. No, this isn't gourmet cooking but it is very nutritious and filling and assuming one has access to a way to cook and safely store food (preferably a refrigerator and freezer) one can live on less than the average food stamp per person amount in my state (I know this because I've done this several months since the recession started as a combination experiment and to donate the difference between that amount and my normal average monthly grocery bill to a local food bank).

      September 26, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
      • fellow donator

        Good for you. I wish more had your attitude and approach toward life. What a different world this would be.

        September 26, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  17. tj

    Innapropriate to speak about this sort of problem by supporting stereotypical, and racist thought. Take that ignorance elsewhere. There are many black men who do support their children, and many people of varying racial identity that do not. While not having father figures around for young black children does seem to be an ill of the black community, let's not generalize by making such idiotic jokes. Especially, since it is an ill of many other communities as well. The problem is that there are men who leave much responsibility up to the women, and that in itself, must change.

    September 26, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Father Knows Best@tj

      I agree with you – sadly many of the women you refer to do not. Many of them don't know how to speak up for themselves or don't know that it's ok. One of the most annoying phrases I hear on this topic is that some father says he is going to "babysit" his own kids. Dorkus, it's not babysitting if their yours, it's parenting.

      September 26, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  18. Scott

    After looking into the thoughtfulness and intelligence behind your comment, I can definitely see how it was related to the above article.

    September 26, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  19. arubo

    How can we help?

    September 26, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  20. thescientist

    it proves that to slow the aging process is to eat less and consume less calories daily and you will age slower. At this when this child is 20 he will look like he's 10 years old.

    September 26, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • thescientist

      it proves that to slow the aging process is to eat less and consume less calories daily and you will age slower. At this rate when this child is 20 years old he will look like he's 10 years old.

      September 26, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  21. happi75

    Attitudes that would rather call parents names such as lazy or uneducated, are all to common in today's world. There have been poor people down through the ages since the dawn of time. No matter what the reasons are that these children find themselves drenched in poverty, these children are blameless and deserve to be fed and cared for, so hopefully they can grow up and break the cycle of poverty. People will gladly throw their money to companies that flash images of starving children from other countries across the tv screen. People will gladly throw their money at images of starving and abused animals they see printed in the newspaper. But show an image of a starving child or children that live in the United States and you get people crawling out of the woodwork willing to close their pocketbooks and simply cast names at the parents of these children. Shame on you!!!!! These children are very real and they are in every single city across our nation. For many, the lunch they receive at school may very well be the ONLY meal they get for the day. It is the duty, the responsibility of those that can, to take care of those that cannot. Then and only then can a nation as a whole prosper. We as a nation have forgotten that simple principle, and look at where our nation is today. So stop with the fingerpointing, stop with the name calling, and realize these children desperately need your help. If you are so well off, then why would it really hurt you to add a dollar to your grocery bill or utility bill, to help another human being? Are you really so tight fisted, so greedy that you must name call in order to justify your own greed? I see it time and time again every single day. I give thanks each and every day that I am one of those fortunate enough to be able to help others. I actually go out of my way to help at least 1 person every single day of my life.Imagine that simple concept. Every single person actually going out of there way, taking a simple 2 minutes of their time to lend a helping hand to another human being, that one concept would end human suffering and greed would go flying out the window. Stop showing your greed, and on your next shopping spree to the grocery store, remember these children right here in our backyards and add a bag of food that will be donated to a food bank so a very hungry child will have a meal or two.

    September 26, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • K

      Why do we send food to these people? Give them birth control instead. Or if they want food, they must undergo sterilization.

      September 26, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
      • J

        Why do you put useless comments on here?

        September 26, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • candsmom

      I wish everyone in the world had your attitude. You have motivated me to try and do a good deed for someone else every day. Thank you. My first will be a food bank donation this evening.

      September 26, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  22. Tasha

    I think people should consider growing some of their own produce or having several families come together and have a small garden. Seeds are fairly inexpensive and it doesnt take a huge effort to grow certain things. I fully understand it won't make a huge difference in the grocery bill but it can help. Children often love having something they take care of and this is potentially something the family can do together. And yes, you can grow certain things even if you have little to no yard....we manage to just fine.

    September 26, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Raven2366

      Our family has a small garden and several fruit trees in our yard. Because we live in Florida, we have fresh veggies and fruit year round. Even when the hubby and I, were living in a small apartment in Philly, we grew tomatoes, peppers and herbs in small containers year round. Very inexpensive indeed. Also a lot of people who live off of FOODSTAMPS, either don't know that they can purchase seeds with their EBT, or they're to lazy to garden. Which is sad because in the case of the little boy in this article, having garden fresh produce could make a HUGE difference in his diet and health.

      September 26, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
      • Ann

        I'm all for gardening, but if you have a couple of bucks in your hand and some hungry kids to feed RIGHT NOW, I don't think you can be expected to buy pots, soil, seeds – and then wait a couple of months to eat the results. For those with access to outdoor plots (not a given, as some here seem to think), it would be a good idea to encourage gardening, though. I grew tomatoes in my yard when I was unemployed (with the permission of my landlady), and it really did help.

        September 26, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Ron

      Gardening may not cost that much out of pocket (at least under certain conditions), but it takes a lot of time that could be better spent. The garden won't produce anything for several weeks, and even then, you need a pretty big plot and several hours per week to provide anything beyond a few token vegetables. Is it worthwhile for somebody to spend four hours per week to produce $10 worth of vegetables*? Not if they could spend that time earning a paycheck.

      * I realize that the resulting vegetables would be all-natural and better tasting than supermarket vegetables, but that doesn't matter here. For somebody who's struggling to eat at all, there's little practical difference between a head of organic green leaf and a head of 99¢ iceberg. In fact, the factory-farmed vegetables will likely be larger and more filling.

      September 26, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • t

      grow a garden?? land is scarce in the inner cities where many of these poverty stricken people live (particularly in boston or chicago). . .what many people can afford with the limited income amounts to a few square meters, often in poorly ventilated, poorly lit (little sunshine), cramped apartments? so where do you grow these fantastic gardens that will feed a family of 4?? much less buying soil and pots??? which can be quite expensive. . .

      October 2, 2011 at 9:02 am |
  23. Catalina

    Paganguy made the only relevant comment, where are the fathers? My father left when I was nine but I had extended family, namely my grandparents, who provided for us. When we were old enough, we were expected to work long hours in my grandmother's extensive garden, we canned or froze hundreds of meals, healthy food and inexpensive. Where are the fathers? Where are the fathers? Where are the fathers?

    September 26, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • andrew

      bravo. i totally agree. a single parent is stretched to insane levels. they deserve a ton of credit but we need to recognize that many single parents are unable to provide for their kids at the same level as us kids who had two parents in the home. there are exceptions of course, of course, of course. it's in the interest of all people to lend a hand so that our entire fabric of society is stronger. why let some of that fabric decay? it does not make sense from any perspective.

      September 26, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  24. Colleen

    People who come to this country from South and Central America (for example) make do on very little because they know how to cook and make a little bit go a long way. A large bag of rice and beans is very cheap, filling and pretty nutritious. A big lesson should be learned from those who come from other countries and remind us of how things were done for generations of poor. Rather than handouts, we might consider volunteering to show people how to use a supermarket and shop frugally and cook the food once they have it. Rice, beans, oil, onions, a whole chicken that can be cooked, and then stock made. There are so many ways of eating cheaply if you try. Believe me – I did it with three jobs.

    September 26, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Catalina

      Thanx, we live in South America and work with the urban poor, they are incredibly thrifty and resourceful, I've learned a lot from them.

      September 26, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Rebecca

      Thank you Colleen! You are so right. I work with low income women with families and I had teach them how to shop, cook, and live a healthier more productive life. I didn't know how much these women simply didn't know. I learned the true meaning of poverty is "THE LACK OF KNOWLEDGE!"

      September 26, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  25. Ripple

    Are they handing out birth control along with the food? People who can't afford to fee a kid shouldn't have one. I'm tired of taking care of other people's kids. If the churches want to be anti-abortion, anti-birth control and anti-sex ed in the schools, they should take care of the results.

    September 26, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  26. S

    A 5 years old kid weighing at 37.2 lbs....That is the weight of my 3 1/2 years old....How can we as a society expect that these kids, when they grow up, will be able to take over and run this country? Or run anything for that matter? I will never understand why in this country, which is being called over and over again the greatest country on Earth, there are hungry children????????

    September 26, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Tati

      37.2 pounds for a 3 1/2? My son is 4 1/2, very tall for his age, well fed and is just about to hit 40 pounds.

      September 26, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
  27. Noxious Sunshine

    Ok, I understand the disabled and elderly needing the benefits, but other than that, each and every person -can- get a job or work two, and even three (I've done it) I know that for a fact. Trust me, it can be done. I've seen -soooo- many ppl completely surviving & depending on gov't wellfare because they didnt want to get off their lazy arses and work.

    As for myself, I actually was -denied- foodstamps
    simply because I made too much money – even
    though I was (still am, technically) a single mother
    who's -never- recieved a dime in child support. I
    worked two practically Full-Time jobs, took college
    courses, & cared for my daughter on my own.

    I'm sorry, but there's no excuse for this. Parents who are physically capable of working can and should find ways to get their kids in daycare or babysitting programs. The gov't provides help for that. Like I kinda said before, my child and her well-being is the most important thing in my life. I want to set a good example for her. I think that parents who use the gov't as their "crutch" – or better yet – "wheelchair" are only showing their kids that being lazy will get you rewarded in some form or fashion.

    Jobs are out there. You just have to hit the ground running & prove to employers that you're worth hiring & show that you care about being there.. Go above & beyond their expectations.

    September 26, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • paganguy

      Where are the fathers?

      September 26, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
      • paige

        In response to your question "Where are the fathers?"--
        My mother is a single mom who raised both my brother and I because my father passed away. He wasn't shot in a drive-by and he wasn't strung out on heroine either. He had an illness which required him to need a heart and lung transplant and he passed away before one was available.
        My mom has a Masters degree and has been working full-time since my father passed away, but raising two children wasn't cheap and I know that when I was still living at home, she had to cut back on a lot of things.
        We never went hungry because she is extremely wise with her money, but many people aren't as educated as my mother.
        Many people don't know how to budget their money and many people are raising their children alone because of a tragedy; everyone has a different situation.

        September 26, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • A

      Can't agree more. Keep the government handouts and people will just become lazier and will keep having children and let them become malnourished. It never ends.

      September 26, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • midwest momma

      I hear you on this, Noxious. I used to think like this, too. Unfortunately, though, the person that will suffer is an innocent child that didn't ask to be brought to this Earth, and who can't help it if his parent(s) are irresponsible, shiftless losers. I, too, hate to think of my tax dollars going to support people that are as able bodied as myselft. However, when I think of a hungry child, eating french fries and soda for dinner....that is unconscionable. Innocent children must be provided with what they need to grow and thrive. Just because they have losers for parents, doesn't mean that they don't have the potential to be great. We cannot allow our disdain for their parents to harm them. They might grow up to be the doctor that treats you on your deathbed. Why not help them get a leg up?

      September 26, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Tdavid6

      You said, "As for myself, I actually was -denied- foodstamps". I'm always amazed that the people that despise social welfare programs the most are the ones that either received it, or tried to receive it and were denied. It almost sounds like there is an ax to grind, some sort of pent up bitterness that you feel like you were just as entitled as some of the other people. And while that may be true, just look at how it sounds to the rest of us when you start your post by admitting that you tried to get benefits and were denied, then bash every "lazy person" that can get a job but is too lazy. I have NEVER applied, nor received, any type of social welfare assistance, and consider myself very fortunate, and also am humble enough to know that I'm only about 6 paychecks away from needing it at any time, so I don't mind sharing my tax money with those that need some help. Just something to think about...

      September 26, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
      • Noxious Sunshine

        Sure, I applied for foodstamps, because my older sister suggested it & I wasnt exactly sure how my finances were going to work out – I had just moved into a bigger apartment, and had to tack on daycare, basic cable & internet (for school), family insurance. Just the cost of everything -not including- groceries, toiletries, etc was upwards of $2,000. Oh, and paying hospital bills from labor, dr. visits for my lil girl.. That jacks it all up closer to $3,000.

        Thankfully, I had Pell Grants, student loans, & working 60 hrs a week to help & I had a decent income.

        I'm not bitter because I was denied. It actually made me work harder to provide a comfortable lifestyle for the 2 of us.

        And btw, if you're struggling to find employment – I suggest going back to the bottom – serving, fast food, whatever, while continuing to find work in your field of choice. A job is a job. It's a paycheck. If it means providing for my child & all that's available is some crappy job @ Mickey D's, I'll take it

        Her dad got deported when I was pregnant. He's never been a part of my daughter's life, nor will he ever.

        September 26, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
      • Tdavid6

        Your comment about needing a job is clearly meant for another person's thread, not mine. I've never been unemployed longer than 2 weeks in the 19 years that I have been working.

        September 26, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
      • Noxious Sunshine

        Yeah, it was actually.The unemployment part was for "Guest". Not directed at you at all. As I posted before, I'm fine with those who really need gov't asst recieving it, but at the same time, those who are physically able to work should be doing -something- to get themselved and their families ahead. You know?

        Not saying this is everyone's situation, or even a fraction of the ppl on welfare, but a girl I stayed with in Phoenix had 4 kids – all diff dads. She got around $700 in food stamps, $500 in cash assistance, & WIC for all 4 children. Yes she was also on drugs rly bad. It was sickening.

        September 26, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • JG

      If you applied for food stamps you are a hypocrite.

      In case you haven't notice real unemployment is somewhere around 17%. There are plenty of people who want to work. In the absence of stimulus spending we are going to have to wait for the economy to add several million jobs before everyone who wants to work can work.

      I don't care what you think of the parents, the kids are the ones that suffer and the effects of childhood malnourishment are life long.

      September 26, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Guest

      I have a BA in HR, 20 yrs retired navy, 13 years Gov GS as a HR Specialist, recently we had a RIF, and it has taken me a year and a half to find a part time job as a receptionist, one of the requirement for this position was a college degree and 150 people applied for this position. It not nearly as easy as you seem to state to find any type of employment, and if you are a minority as am I it is three times as hard, but I will also state that the 150 people that applied for the receptionist position were all color and all ages.

      September 26, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Tati

      Well said!

      September 26, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  28. Happy Omnivore

    "So you can imagine we are handing out over 70,000 bags of food every single month. It's a trend at food pantries nationwide."
    Are they being handed out because knowledgeable parents don't have the money to feed their kids or because uneducated have no means to learn how to shop smart for healthy food? Give a person a fish and feed them for a day. Teach a person to fish and you feed them for a lifetime.

    September 26, 2011 at 8:19 am |
    • Juan D. Baptiste

      Ever live in a ghetto, Omni? They're virtual food deserts, believe me. No supermarkets, no corner greengrocers, no Whole Foods Market. Nothing except the stop and go, bullet proof beer and cigarette store where you can but packaged Tastykakes for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Where the kid winds up trapped is not his fault. Try if you will, but you can't teach a person to fish in a poisoned river. Maybe we can do what Limbaugh suggested...hire buses to take kids downtown to pick the slop from the Ruth Chris's Steakhouse dumpster. Or finally listen to Dr. King who said "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

      September 26, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • penquin3

      I agree. But how do we educate them? If they come from families that have done this they won't know good nutrition from poor. For example, last year I was watching 20/20 and they were spotlighting families in the Appalachians. There are families that put neglecting their children like this and we all pay the price.
      Perhaps the answer is to get churches to help with the education. Schools are already trying, but unfortunately children as young as those in the article are not usually going, unless there is a Head Start program nearby. Perhaps these are what needs to be funded more – Head Start and school breakfast/lunch programs. At least you know then that the children are benefitting and the food is not being bought with "food stamps" and then resold on the street, which sometimes happens.

      September 26, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
      • penquin3

        it should read "There are families that put Mountain Dew in baby bottles. If there are people in this day and age neglecting their children..."
        sorry, not sure how that got deleted

        September 26, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Aniram

      sure – that advice worked in 20BC – but welcome to the 21st century.

      September 26, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
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