Tag Archives: Americans in poverty

Helping folks eat healthy – 🎵🎵 🌽🍅🍆💗 to our souls!

St. John’s Food Program: Helping the Working Poor Survive – And Saving Lives!

By Dorrie Maynard

ICT editor Rose called me a month ago and asked me to write a story about St. John’s church (located on Temple Street in Worcester) – specifically the church’s amazing  food distribution center/pantry/kitchen. I balked – told Rose there have been many stories written about St. John’s and that I would not have anything interesting to add. However, she pressed the issue, like she always does, so I took the assignment … and onward I went!!!

1500_1488376674879-1
ICT’s intrepid Dorrie Maynard at St. John’s church community kitchen!🌺

First, I had to talk to the program’s director Bill Riley to see if he was interested in doing a story for InCity Times and go from there. Volunteering with Central Mass Kibble Kitchen, I am at St. John’s twice monthly passing out pet food to the working poor who have cats or dogs to feed, so I know Bill. I went in and asked him if he was up for another story – a cover story. To my
surprise, he agreed! He told me to be at the church’s St. Francis food center (named after the patron saint of the poor) the following Tuesday at 7 am when the doors open and I could shadow him for the morning.

I called Rose to tell her that Bill had agreed. She was ecstatic! I told her Billy wanted me at St. John’s  for 7 a.m!!!! I like my beauty sleep!😉 I don’t get out of bed to go to my
real job until 7:30 a.m! So “heading to church” for 7 a.m  was not something
I was looking forward to!  I had to have my early bird sister give me a wake up so I’d be sure I was up at 6 am the following Tuesday.

When I got her call that day it was
still dark out!!!! …

IMG_3966-1

My dogs were a bit confused as
well! We never get up at this “unGodly” hour, but I had made the commitment, now I had to walk the walk! I got to St. John’s about 7 a.m. when the doors to their community kitchen open, there was a line already out the door – folks waiting to get a free, nutritious breakfast to start their day. About 70% of the folks who go to the food kitchen are the working poor – THEY HAVE JOBS BUT AFTER PAYING RENT AND OTHER BILLS THEY HAVE TROUBLE BUYING GROCERIES FOR THEMSELVES AND THEIR FAMILIES. St. John’s supplements their usually minimum wage pay checks. The rest of the “guests” are the homeless/struggling.

1504_1488376697286
Church and school groups offer their time and people power! They volunteer at St. John’s food pantry/kitchen, helping to feed the hungry, as Jesus Christ preached to the world! pics: Dorrie Maynard👼

Rubbing the sleep from my eyes I made my way in to the food pantry to find Bill. He suggested that I stick around – work the food line for the day – and get a real feel for the place. I would see how things ran … I was already up, so even though I wasn’t happy about the game plan, I decided to take a step and observe the busy-ness of the place.

Bill showed me around a bit and then handed me my apron and told me to get behind the counter and start serving!!! Pronto! I was put in the front line at the bread station. I was
giving out bread and placing ham on it so people could make sandwiches to either eat there or “to go. ” Diners next stop was the girl beside me who was putting cheese on the ham. Then from her, “guests” put on condiments.

It really was quite assembly line – a bit crazy at times, but once I got the hang of it, it was smooth sailing!

There was such volume …

IMG_20170309_091625925-1
Some of the hundreds of pounds of donated food!

…and people wanting ham but not thr cheese! Or two pieces of ham – not three! Some folks wanted wheat bread, some wanted white, some didn’t want the ends, some didn’t care.

At one point, I heard someone yell at me: “Hey, aren’t you the cat food lady?” They remembered me from my Kibble Connections visits!

I said: YAH!

There are many people who visit St. John’s for their breakfast and lunch and then visit the Mustard Seed soup kitchen for their dinner. I volunteer at the Mustard Seed too – giving out pet
food every Wednesday through the Kibble Connection. And I also help the poor or himeless by giving out items that people need on a regular basis – so
there were many familiar faces at St. John’s!

Bill told me they feed several hundred people daily!!! He feels for the people who pay their rent and bills and don’t have enough money to feed themselves (as their food stamps have been cut back) or buy extra items that are needed. Some people are indeed homeless and
struggling with addictions.

Everyone is welcome at St. John’s, assuming they can adhere to the “tight ship” that Bill runs and maintains. Bill is a former prison guard who tolerates no games, no dealing, no rudeness, no cutting in line, no problems on the premisses. There is a Worcester Police officer on duty at all times to enforce this policy, if needed.

Bill pretty much knows everyone by name and shows everyone respect and goes above and beyond to make people happy.

People come to him with special requests: asking for a cake
for a birthday, some ice cream for a family celebration, some cottage cheese, some fruit,etc. Bill either goes in
the back to find it himself or asks one of his many dedicated volunteers to make the journey into the many places where these goodies can be found! He’s a truly selfless man!

St. John’s has been blessed with the support/partnership of the Stop & Shop supermarket chain …

Shekalia-at-market-830x623-1

Bill has two vans that are out daily making pick ups of food that hasn’t sold but is still completely edible. Bill also gets many donations from other retailers that are unable to sell things for one reason or another. On the day that I was there, he was fortunate enough to receive a large donation of
new bed pillows! There was something wrong with the UPC labels that made them
unsalable. Bill is super generous and asked if I would like to have some for the women at Abby’s House. Knowing that we can always use items for the shelter guests, I quickly said YES!

Another person I need to mention that has generously contributed to the success of St. John’s Xavier Food Center is Frank Carroll. He has helped to build the building and the new cooler that was much needed. Frank is on the board and is a member of the Church community. When Frank’s wife died, Bill and several of his volunteers stood outside on the sidewalk between the Church and the center when her body was driven by in the hearse to pay their final respects.

Pastor Father Madden is also a very visible figure at the Xavier Center! He runs a ROBUST AND WELCOMING ST. JOHN’S CHURCH THAT EMBRACES COMMUNITY!

I had the pleasure of meeting Fr. Madden the day that I was there and was present when he said grace before the meal. Everyone stood together, and even though they may have been different from each other on many levels, it was so great to see everyone standing together and praying and hoping for the same things!

At the end of the day, Bill turned to me and said: “Dorrie, you got your story.”

And that I did💗.

St. John’s Xavier Center is a place that people can go to to get a good meal,a smile, mutual respect and, if they are lucky enough, a new bed pillow!💗💗

The hours at St. John’s Xavier food Center are Monday through Friday, 7 am – 11 am. Food is served there and food is also given away. Families seeking food boxes must live within the 01604 zip code.

Saturdays 8 am -10 am – the St. John’s church free veggies and fruits (and other goodies!) give away. The location is 20 Temple St.

20160812_130806-1
Free veggies and fruit at St. John’s, every Saturday morning!

Driving with a friend through Worcester’s inner-city neighborhoods …

By Rosalie Tirella

… my pets, back at the shack, waiting for me …

20170325_131441
pics: R.T.

… my pal and I running my errands in all the old familiar places … zipping back and forth over the inner-city Worcester streets I know so well … I got it. Fresh. Like I did the first time. Because on this day I was playing tour guide and seeing my spaces through my friend’s “tourist” eyes. On this day I saw just how “HARD HIT” half of “balkanized” Worcester – my side of town💗 – really is! Grafton Street, South Worcester, Webster Square, Main Street, 4 Corners, Piedmont, Green Island, lower Vernon Hill … once sturdy, blue collar neighborhoods that provided poorer/immigrant Worcesterites with a boost up the first rungs of the AMERICAN DREAM ladder, now engulfed in poverty, the Section 8 cheats, the drug takers and the drug pushers, …

… malnourished little kids, the morbidly obese, the rampant garbage-dumping …

20170313_135055-1
in the front yard of an Endiott Street multi-family – shameful!

… the ranters and ravers…

It was all there for the two of us to see as we drove around paying bills, buying milk. Not to mention the unseen but simmering-just-below-the-surface shit: the guns, the assault rifles, the bags of smack, the used syringes. In my years of living in Worcester, after returning here from sojourns in Hartford and Springfield, I’ve come up against all these devils. It’s funny: the Worcester of 2017 – in the old neighborhoods, at least – now reminds me of the Hartford and Springfield of the mid-1990s – the mid-sized cities I fled: dangerous, impoverished, dirty, gun-infested.

Which is why I left those cities in the first place and headed back to my hometown!

Worcester! The city that works! More working people here – purposeful folks adding to community life – fewer folks living dangerous, alternative lives on the periphery.

But that’s changed.

The poverty and despair of the Springfield and Hartford of my younger self have caught up to Worcester! At least on my streets! The many good jobs of yester year for the average joe and jane are NO longer in Worcester – in all the mid-sized and small cities throughout the land! The economy has changed, despite what Pez Prez Donald Trump, wants us to believe. Often times, our smart and resourceful but “uneducated” kids shun the McJobs here and figure out they can make a great living selling drugs! And they do just that until the authorities – or gang bangers warring over turf – catch up to them. And maybe kill them.

Bang bang …

I know, I know, I sound negative, doom ‘n’ gloom. According to the Worcester Police Department, our crime stats show that homicides are down in Woo, the murder rate plunging. But it feels like the violent crimes are up! It can feel so dark and foreboding here!

In the cold, gray afternoon light with winter’s rawness still engulfing the city and the now dirty snow still clinging unmelted to sidewalks and our souls, I found myself making excuses for my part of Worcester to my friend, who lives in one of Woo’s well-heeled suburbs.

Well, you know, I said to her, it’s the snow, the tail end of winter … that’s why things look so rough. The city is bound to look a bit bedraggled, frayed at the edges …

Or: Let’s get out of here – I don’t wanna get us in the middle of a deal… (I did not say the word “drug” before “deal”!)

The Misfortune Parade was overwhelming! The old alcoholic guy in the liquor store, the panhandler with cardboard sign, stumbling …

“He doesn’t look so good,” my friend said, as she reached down into her pocketbook for loose change for the panhandler.

Yes, I was making excuses for my city’s poverty and all the sad, violent social ills that get toted along with it. I didn’t want this suburban gal pal – of course, she knew! – to see the Worcester I see every day. I didn’t wanna make us both wince! And yet I wanted to tell her stuff, recall the scenes that make me feel this city isn’t “home” at all:

1. The Kid in the Worcester Dumpster.

Yep. As I was illegally throwing my little bag of crap into a dumpster in the ‘hood I came upon – in the dumpster! – a 10-year-old boy wading in the garbage.

A kid, who should have been in school learning, chest deep in shit – expressionless as he was making his way through it, looking for receipts, possibly with credit card numbers on them…??? There was a man sitting in a car a few yards away waiting for the boy. He obviously deposited him in the big dumpster to look for receipts and goodies. The boy was in the middle of doing his “job” when I stumbled upon him.

The man just sat in the car waiting, as I stared at him and back at the boy. They most likely had other dumpsters for the boy to dive into. They probably had a route. This was income-generating.

Surreal. In my city, Worcester.

2. The Kid Being Pushed Out of a Van to Sell Lollipops:

Then in Greendale, on West Boylston Street in Worcester: A guy pushing a little boy – another little boy! – out of a van with a bouquet of stale looking big round lollipops. To sell to people. Two bucks a pop, according to the little sign stuck amid the big jaw breakers. The kid looked positively miserable yet robotically did what was expected of him. I watched him as he entered each store in the strip mall – lifeless, on task – so unlike your average 10-year-old boy. He would go to the person at the cash register, asking if they wanted to buy a big pop for 2 bucks, like his little sign said. There was no non-profit or worthy cause he was plugging. Just himself. He looked pale, hair unwashed … jeans hanging from his skinny waist. He sold a few pops. People felt sorry for him. The few donations came his way – just like his boss, the creepy guy in the van, had expected.

I called the Worcester cops after witnessing this city scene: IT’S SLAVERY, I TELL YOU!!!!! I screamed into my cell phone, totally bent out of shape. IS HE MOLESTING THE BOY??? I SEE STUFF LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME!!! I yelled at the police officer, screaming into my cell. I sounded unhinged because I was unhinged! I had connected the dots and I was terrified for the boy – all little boys!

PLEASE! GET DOWN HERE ASAP! I yelled at the police officer over my cell. Please!

The WPD police officers, I imagine, have seen it all. So maybe they thought: YES, THIS DISTRAUGHT BROAD IS ON TO SOMETHING. Or: HERE IS A POOR GUY, A POOR DAD, USING HIS SON TO MAKE SOME EXTRA DOUGH – THE WRONG THING TO DO, BUT TIMES ARE TOUGH. This broad is over-reacting.

I chose to believe the officers took down the information I gave them over the phone and investigated the incident.

Or maybe the cops just thought I was … nutsville. Which I was, at that moment! Because I saw the pain in that little boy’s wan face!

And I remembered the 10 year old boy I saw wading in the dumpster not so long ago.

And I had had an epiphany: THIS SORT OF THING IS HAPPENING TO LITTLE KIDS ALL THE TIME! In my America!

3. The Plant Girls

Then there are the girls walking outside Worcester strip malls selling small, anemic plants to anyone who’ll buy … but maybe selling more than their half-dead plants. Some of the “girls” look older than 18, some really look like girls – about 14 or 15 years old. I remember, I told my friend while driving around with her running my errands, seeing a guy every week sitting alone in a car in a Worcester strip mall parking lot, facing the street, looking straight ahead, as if waiting for something … just as the plant girls were making their rounds selling their half-dead little plants.

It upset me to think that I had just “figured it out” then, at that moment, in my friend’s car, as we drove around: that blow jobs were what was selling those days – way faster than little plants.

You see Worcester’s future in our kids. You see the country’s lopsided economy that has left so many parents behind. And yes, if you’re young and rich and educated and fueled by the Internet, the new Worcester and American economy is for you. But if you’re not – like half of us here – it’s very hard to survive.

It was all so clear to me on a gray March day, running errands with my friend.

This Sunday! Friendly House Annual Christmas Party!!!

dscn1458

Friendly House Annual Christmas Party!

36 Wall St.

This Sunday, December 18

2 pm – 4 pm

img_0127

For children ages 0-12 – must be accompanied by an adult

Raffles!

Gifts for all children ages 0-12 in attendance!

img_0172

Music!

Dance performances!

Entertainment!

First come, first served!

Volunteers, gifts for tweens still needed … if you can help in any way! Cheers, inner-city Woo!

img_0167

img_0170

THANK YOU, GORDON AND SANTA!!! You’re the best!!😄😄😊☺😁😃🎄🎅💝

*******

Friendly House families have a great Thanksgiving, thanks to WPI fraternity!!!

dsc_8460_digital
The Friendly House on Wall Street – a busy, giving place during the holidays!  photos: Elio Daci

dsc_8529_digital
The students give out food packages at the Friendly House … Go, WPI, go!!!!!

Story submitted by Elio Daci

It’s Thanksgiving Day! Most families look forward to spending time with their family over a warm, delicious Thanksgiving meal. Unfortunately, this is not a reality for many of our neighbors. Between heating costs, paying bills and other expenses, many people do not have the luxury of providing a holiday meal to their families.

There is a common misconception of what
those who are unable to feed their families look like. The vast majority of the people who seek help feeding their families are not people who you see on the street corner. Many who need help feeding their families are our neighbors who work multiple jobs simply to make ends meet – the men and women who have to make tough decisions every day, such as whether to pay for heating or food.

These are the people who work hard, but cannot provide a full Thanksgiving meal to their families.

Luckily, we live in a community that is dedicated to helping alleviate this pressure for our neighbors. Over the past month, a Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha, has worked with the Worcester County Sheriff’s office and the Friendly House of Worcester to make sure families who are struggling have a Thanksgiving meal. Our just completed food drive is part of an ongoing partnership that dates back 21 years! Over the course of this partnership, more than 2.3 million pounds of food have been collected for the Friendly House!

“Although most of us are only in Worcester for four years for college, we definitely become a part of the community,” says Elio Daci, the External Vice President of Lambda Chi Alpha at WPI. “We all want to make sure we leave this city a better place than we found it, and this is just one way we do that.”

A large portion of donations for the food drive actually comes from the fraternity’s major bag drop event. More than 10,000 bags are distributed to homes across Worcester and Shrewsbury, asking for residents to fill them with non-perishable food items. The following week, all of the donations are picked up.

“It is very rewarding to see all the
donations on people’s door steps, especially after you’ve spent so much time distributing the bags,”said Aaron Pepin, a brother of Lambda Chi Alpha. The fraternity prides itself on its ability to give back to Worcester, and this tradition will continue as long as the need exists. The work these young men do in the community is perfectly captured by Elio Daci: “We might not be changing the world, but we are definitely making a difference for a lot of families, and that is what it’s all about. That’s what makes it all worth it.”

dsc_8482_digital
A few of the “brothers” carry the Thanksgiving groceries for a young mom.

McGovern, Kennedy, Neal to join Western Mass. hunger march

20161117_094237-1
pic:R.T.

Hunger March to Support Families in Need

McGovern to Kick Off 7th Annual Monte’s March in Springfield!

Last Year’s March Raised a Record-Breaking $150,000 for Local Hunger Relief!

Next Monday, November 21, Congressman Jim McGovern will kick off the 7th annual “Monte’s March,” a 43-mile two-day walk as part of his anti-hunger push in Western Massachusetts.

Congressmen Joe Kennedy III (MA-04) and Richard Neal (MA-01) will be among those joining the event.

The march is aimed at helping to increase awareness about hunger in local communities and help Massachusetts families in need this thanksgiving.

“As we prepare for Thanksgiving, there are many Massachusetts families who are struggling just to put food on the table,” Congressman McGovern said. “To bring our communities together and raise awareness to help families in need, we’ll be kicking off the seventh annual Monte’s March, the longest-yet at 43 miles across Western Massachusetts. Hunger is something that touches families across the Commonwealth, but together, we can help to ensure that every family has access to the healthy meals they need this holiday season.”

Joining Congressman McGovern for the full 43 miles will be the founder of Monte’s March, WRSI The River radio host Monte Belmonte, as well as Andrew Morehouse, the Executive Director of The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

Also joining part of the march will be Congressmen Richard Neal and Joe Kennedy III; State Rep. Aaron Vega; State Rep-Elect Solomon Goldstein-Rose; students from Holyoke Community College, Greenfield Community College and The Greenfield Center School; and local mayors, and other community leaders.

This year’s hunger walk will be the longest yet at 43 miles, starting on Monday with stops in Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, and Northampton. The walk will finish on Tuesday with stops in Hadley, Amherst, Sunderland, and Greenfield.

OVERVIEW:

WHAT: Monte’s March, a 43-mile anti-hunger march across Western Massachusetts

WHEN: Monday 11/21 at 7:00AM

WHERE: March Starts at Friends of The Homeless. 755 Worthington St., Springfield

The march continues Monday with stops in Chicopee, Holyoke, and Northampton

On Tuesday 11/22 with stops in Hadley, Amherst, Sunderland, and ending in Greenfield

FULL SCHEDULE:

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 21

o 7:00 am – Depart from Friends of The Homeless. 755 Worthington St. Springfield
o 8:30 am – Arrive at Chicopee City Limits
o 9:00 am – Arrive in Chicopee Falls
o 10:00 am – Arrive in Downtown Holyoke
o 11:00 am – 2:00 pm – Finish first day, walking down Northampton Street to Northampton
o 6:30 pm – Fundraising event at The Northampton Brewery, 11 Brewster Ct, Northampton
o Note: Throughout the day, the march will be joined by Holyoke Community College students

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 22

o 6:00 am – Depart Northampton Office, 94 Pleasant Street.
o 7:00 am – Arrival at Route 9 in Hadley near Mi Tierra
o 8:00 am – Arrival at Whole Foods in Hadley
o 9:15 am – Arrival in Downtown Amherst
o 10:30 am – Arrival at Amherst Survival Center
o 12:00 pm – Arrival in Downtown Sunderland
o 1:15 pm – Arrival at Chandler’s Restaurant at Yankee Candle for Lunch
o 2:30 pm Arrival at Route 5 & 10 north joined by students from Greenfield Community College and The Greenfield Center School
o 5:00 pm: Arrival in Greenfield
o 5:30 pm or 6:00 pm: Completion of march at Seymour The Pub, 5 Bank Row, Greenfield.

we-can-do-it-e1458574337247-1

TOMORROW! Sat., Oct. 22 – Celebrate World Food Day! At REC Community Farmers Market – University Park!

20160812_130801-1-1

farmers-market-1-1-2

Sat., Oct. 22 – at Main South’s Crystal Park (aka University Park) – Join REC to celebrate …

WORLD FOOD DAY 2016!!!

… with a slate of events scheduled to highlight:

healthy food choices

food justice

food accessibillity for all!

Learn new ways to celebrate food and promote sensible, just food policies for Worcester and Central Mass!

There will be:

Food Tastings!

Yoga!

Face Painting!

Kids Games!

image0681

Events Sponsored by:

Main South Community Development Corporation

Worcester Food Policy Council

Regional Environmental Council (REC)

University of Massachusetts Medical School

*********

linked_image2

What is World Food Day?

A global campaign to draw attention to and celebrate healthy, affordable foods produced in a humane, sustainable way and to fix the food system by:

Promoting safer, healthier diets

Supporting sustainable and organic farms

Reforming factory farms to protect the environment

Supporting fair working conditions for food and farm workers

World Food Day is a day of action against hunger!!!

Tomorrow people around the world come together to declare their commitment to eradicate hunger in our lifetime.

Because when it comes to hunger, the only acceptable number in the world is zero.

World Food Day celebrates the creation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on October 16, 1945 in Quebec, Canada. First established in 1979, World Food Day has since then been observed in almost every country by millions of people.

Why care about hunger?

Because the right to food is a basic human right.

In a world of plenty, 805 million people, one in nine world wide, live with chronic hunger. The costs of hunger and malnutrition fall heavily on the most vulnerable.

60% of the hungry in the world are women.

Almost 5 million children under the age of 5 die of malnutrition-related causes every year.

4 in 10 children in poor countries are malnourished damaging their bodies and brains

Every human being has a fundamental right to be free from hunger and the right to adequate food. The right to adequate food is realized when every man, woman and child has the physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement.

Because we can end hunger in our lifetime. It’s possible. The world produces enough food to feed every person on the planet. In September 2000, world leaders signed a commitment to achieve eight Millennium Development Goals …

Since then:

40 countries have already achieved the first target, to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger

In addition, over the past 20 years, the likelihood of a child dying before age five has been nearly cut in half, which means about 17,000 children are saved every day.

Extreme poverty rates have also been cut in half since 1990.

The challenge is significant, but these results show us that when we focus our attention, we can make big strides.

Because the cost of neglect is too high.

No one in the world should have to experience hunger. In addition to the cost of human suffering, the world as a whole loses when people do not have enough to eat. Hungry people have learning difficulties, are less productive at work, are sick more often and live shorter lives.

The cost to the global economy because of malnutrition is the equivalent of US $3.5 trillion a year.

Hunger leads to increased levels of global insecurity and environmental degradation. Ending hunger is not just a moral imperative, but also a good investment for society.

Because it can happen to anyone. Even in the U.S., one of the richest countries in the world, one in seven Americans – 14.3 percent – does not have enough to eat.

Nutritious food can be expensive, making a balanced diet a luxury for many.

Loss of a job, a family tragedy, poor health, or an accident can make anyone, anywhere, go hungry in a moment.

Globally, extreme climate events, war, or even financial crisis can dramatically affect a person’s ability to feed themselves and their families.

Without social safety nets, resiliency measures and good policy in place, these small and large events can set off a cycle of hunger and poverty.

linked_image3
REC YOUTH GROW URBAN FARM IN MAIN SOUTH – 63 Oread St.

From REC:

We need YOUR help getting the Main South YouthGROW Urban Farm ready for fall!

Join us on through the end of October on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2-5 pm and help us pull crops and harvest produce that will be sold on the REC Mobile Farmers Market!

Questions? Email Bettny Mazur at farm@recworcester.org

FOR INQUIRIES ABOUT OTHER VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES, CONTACT Calandra Chaney at volunteer@recworcester.org

linked_image

LAWRETA KANKAM, YouthGROW Junior Staff photos:REC

From REC:

We are excited to welcome our newest YouthGROW Junior Staff! Lawreta is a Junior at South High School in Worcester and just completed her first year in YouthGROW.

Lawreta was hired as Junior Staff this fall beause of her excellent leadership abilities, passion for youth employment, urban agriculture and community education. Congratulations to Lawreta on her new position!

Congressman McGovern praises Urban Institute report on Teen Hunger … and REC Farmers Market Schedules

Report: 6.8 Million American Teens Struggle with Hunger, Impacting their Health and Academic Achievement

Congressman Jim McGovern spoke on the House Floor recently to address teen hunger as part of his continued push to raise awareness during Hunger Action Month.

Congressman McGovern praised two new reports released by the Urban Institute which highlight the millions of teenagers who face hunger and the challenges that they and their families confront every day.

The research in the Urban Institute reports shows that the food budget is one of the first things pared down when times get tough for a family.

Under such conditions, these households can become food insecure — that is, they struggle to acquire enough affordable, nutritious food to healthily feed the whole family.

Using Current Population Survey data, food insecurity expert Craig Gundersen recently estimated that 6.8 million young people ages 10 to 17 struggle to have enough to eat, including 2.9 million who have very low food security.

The ramifications of food insecurity are innumerable, but looking specifically at teenagers, the report notes that teenagers are at a critical stage of their development and that food insecurity undermines their physical and emotional growth, stamina, academic achievement and job performance.

Full Text of Congressman McGovern’s Speech on Teen Hunger:

“ … I rise to speak about the widespread problem of hunger among teenagers.

“While our nation’s recovery is progressing, seven million teens remain food insecure, and we know they often face additional hardships.

“Today, the Urban Institute is briefing Members of Congress and their staff on two new reports that highlight these circumstances and explore how teens cope with hunger.

“Among a number of troubling conclusions, the report finds that teens fear the stigma of being hungry and often refuse to accept food or assistance. They skip meals and sometimes turn to dangerous behaviors just so their parents or siblings can eat. They often feel the need to bear the responsibility for feeding their families.

“Teenagers deserve to have a normal childhood. They should be focused on school and developing their passions – not worrying about where their next meal is coming from.

“I encourage all of my colleagues to read these reports and join me in working to end hunger now.”

*******

REC HELPS FEED YOUR FAMILY! Check out their REC FARMERS MARKETS! In all Worcester neighborhoods!

e4bba1c3-7a7a-4e79-a64d-74624126f58e

linked_image

farmers-market-1-1-1

20160825_111544-1

farmers-market-1-1-2

linked_image2

6384ea_4dc4550def3c410da72dd0046bdeb032

Worcester needs a REAL FOOD HUB!

By Rosalie Tirella

20160711_123403

I love my city, but we have to deal with our hunger problem …

What Worcester needs badly!!: a TRUE FOOD HUB! Just like they have in Greenfield! A store in the city open 7 days a week, 9 – 5, a building, a physical place to shop like Price Chopper or Shop Rite … only filled with locally sourced produce that typically wouldn’t be sold in supermarkets. A food hub is just like a supermarket, only it sells local farmers’ less-than-perfect produce – for way CHEAP! Way way less $$ than the supermarkets and our high-end farmers market, here, ironically, in our inner city – by Kelley Square!!! Kelley Square – home to so many poor people, refugees, immigrants – DIVERSITY! The Worcester of tomorrow! You don’t see our future at this boutique farmers market by Kelley Square. You see … gentrification. It’s an affront to the real neighborhood and its people!

Did you know…Farmers throw away veggies that aren’t ready for prime time! These “rejects” are still amazingly tasty and healthy – fresh from the good earth! FOOD HUBS answer the question: Why not give our working poor, our immigrants a chance – a place! – to buy these homeless, kitchen-less vegetables and fruits? The working poor and immigrants are not patronizing the high-end farmers market any ways, and they often live out of walking distance from produce-selling supermarkets … so no one loses customers. It’s an entirely different customer base – the people in my neighborhood! The folks in all of Worcester’s inner-city neighborhoods!

Let’s do the right thing!

We can’t let politics or a fake, self-obsessed pretend little girl/real-life bitch (I’ve asked around! no one in the city seems to really like her, despite her relentless p.r.) kill this project! Get in the way of A REAL PHYSICAL FOOD HUB FOR WORCESTER! Our kids – all kids! – need to grow up healthy and strong!

20160730_155547-2 photos: Rosalie Tirella

******

…until the FOOD HUB IS A REALITY (staffed/run by REC???)…

Farmers Market 1-1-1

Mobile Market-1

Farmers Market 1-1-2

Something more than pretty trees and sidewalks …

By Rosalie Tirella

… needs to happen in Worcester’s inner-city neighborhoods…

Here, in Union Hill, we have the newly planted trees, newly poured sidewalks …

20160725_130103-1
photos:R.T.

A few days ago I saw all the pretty new trees all in a row, straight as an arrow, planted down Providence Street …

20160725_130039-1

Paid for by the federal government. Also: a new municipal parking lot. And new programs for neighborhood families stressing healthy choices. And … a stronger community police presence.

I am not too hopeful.

A few folks may get it. Most won’t.

The INTRACTABLE problem?

The poverty is still here!!! The kids undernourished, their parents outside of society. Hence our trash dumping problem, our heroin problem, gun violence, hopelessness … even in creating more attractive Worcester inner-city neighborhoods.

Some folks, like poopy diapers Paul Collyer and Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney (Collyer’s political mentee) clamor for the Trump solution: KEEP ‘EM OUT! We can’t build a physical wall like Trump is promising, they say, but we can build others – invisible ones! –  just as impervious! No more section 8! No more low income housing!

They turn away from the people who come to cities to start life in America!

But Worcester, like New York, Boston, Lawrence or Lowell,  will always be a Gateway City!

LOCKING PEOPLE OUT IS NOT THE ANSWER!

GOOD PAYING JOBS for the undereducated is the answer – just like our factories provided our people decades ago.

They’re mostly gone now  …

20160627_172053

… and with them the leg up the poor and uneducated needed to achieve the American Dream: homeownership, security, safe neighborhoods. BELONGING. HAPPINESS.

All you needed was to work hard, like my Polish grandpa did in Dudley’s textile mills. The day he joined his Union was an IMPORTANT and CELEBRATORY day for his family!

His daughters thought they were the bees knees! They had hope!

20160728_105735-1

My mother (on the left, hugging my fave auntie) was whip smart; she was offered the opportunity to attend a junior college on scholarship! A terrific, impressive achievement for the daughter of a poor Polish immigrant mill worker in the 1940s! Most women did not attend college back then – especially poor ones like Ma.  But she had to work to help support her family.

She worked so hard, she deferred her dreams!!! … later to dream them through her daughters, through me: The fact that I am a pretty ok writer was never ever lost on my late Mom, who before her illness at 80, read every one of my stories and had something wise to say about each and every one of them. From the time I was 10!!! A life time of nurturing her daughter! Her American dream!

My mom had two doctor nephews (the sons of the above auntie!), one engineer neice (a trail blazer!) besides a daughter with a community paper! I’ll never forget: My old Ma in that wretched nursing home, in her wheelchair, with copies of InCity Times on her bony legs. Ma rolling around the east wing of the nursing home with ICT bouncing in her lap, giving out copies of InCity Times to the distracted nurses – actually pressing them on the LPNs and nurses aides! So pushy for my little rag, just days before her death! So proud of her favorite daughter!

It used to take a few generations to make it the way you wanted to make it in America, be it financially, artistically, whatever you chose to be. Now we Americans feel stagnant, stuck and anxious about our futures. Hence, Donald Trump on the right and Bernie Sanders on the left.

Candidate Hillary Clinton needs to make US BELIEVE!

Clinton needs to make good on her promises:

PAID FAMILY LEAVE

UNIVERSAL PRE-K

FREE TUITION AT OUR COMMUNITY COLLEGES

A HIGHER MINIMUM WAGE

A REVISED NAFTA and other global trade pacts

PAY EQUITY …

Hubby Bill says HILLARY CARES FOR US! Loves us strivers! The daughters and sons, grandsons and granddaughters of immigrants! The strugglers in poor inner city neighborhoods, working poor Americans! OF WHICH THERE ARE A LOT!!

WE HOPE THIS IS TRUE!!! BILL CLINTON SO INSPIRED US at the DNC! He gave a speech all right! MADE US WANT TO BELIEVE IN HIS WIFE!

We will need to believe – and have all of the above opportunities – like all of Western Europe has had for decades! – to make up for our lost factories, an America that worked for so many people.

America cannot be tweaked!

America needs an economic and social overhaul!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Trees and flowers in inner-city neighborhoods are beautiful – and always welcome. But the real work needs to happen … NOW!

20160723_154608

Congressman McGovern Statement on Republicans’ Wrong Way Poverty Agenda

Congressman Jim McGovern, a senior member of the House Democrats Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality, and Opportunity and the Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Nutrition Subcommittee, released the following statement after House Republicans unveiled the poverty portion of their so-called “A Better Way” agenda:

“Americans need Congress to come together to offer bipartisan solutions that will help millions of families escape poverty – not make it harder for them to get ahead. Speaker Ryan likes to talk about fixing poverty, but the House Republican agenda outlined today would only make poverty worse.

“We live in the richest, most powerful country in the world and yet 46 million of our fellow citizens are in poverty – including more than 15 million children. Today’s House Republican poverty agenda claims to offer bold new ideas, but the harsh reality is it’s just more of the same failed policies that hurt America’s most vulnerable families.

“When Speaker Ryan announced his Republican taskforce to tackle poverty, it was pretty hard to take him seriously because every single Republican on the taskforce voted to cut SNAP by $40 billion. In Speaker Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin, 1 in 5 children struggle with hunger and 302,000 low-income children rely on free or reduced-price school lunches. Yet Speaker Ryan and House Republicans have repeatedly voted to slash the vital programs that help families in Wisconsin and across the country put food on the table. With today’s agenda, Speaker Ryan and House Republicans are just peddling more of the same empty rhetoric and offering no solutions to tackle hunger and actually help families in poverty.”

“In fact, House Republicans have repeatedly pushed dangerous cuts that hurt millions of Americans in poverty. Year after year, Republicans have consistently worked to gut funding for Head Start, Medicaid, and a wide range of initiatives dedicated to reducing poverty. In the most recent Republican budget proposal alone, House Republicans proposed a shameful $3.7 trillion in cuts to essential anti-poverty programs.

“Speaker Ryan’s latest attack on American families working to escape poverty isn’t a better way, it’s the wrong way. As much as Republicans try to distance themselves from Donald Trump, today’s agenda offering no solutions to actually help families escape poverty makes it clear that they’re cut from the same cloth. Slapping a fresh coat of paint on a failed set of policies doesn’t change the fact that this agenda will only make poverty worse. Americans deserve better and House Democrats will not back down from this fight.”