Single Mom Works Full Time But Still Can't Feed Her Family -- Why? (VIDEO)

a place at the tableWell, here we are, America. It's Sequester Day! Great news if you're obsessed with smaller government no matter what, terrible news if you care about people. Oh I jest! A little. What worries me most about the new cuts is that the people who will feel it the most, soonest, are the poorest among us.

I worry about people like Barbie Izquierdo, a single mom in Philadelphia who was trying to feed her two kids on food stamps. Barbie's story is told in the new film, A Place at the Table. She got a full-time job. But even with that full-time job, she still wasn't quite making enough money to feed her family. And with these new cuts, I'm worried people like her will lose their jobs.

It's an odd coincidence that after years of being on assistance, Barbie found a job helping other people apply for food stamps. But that's what she's doing now. It's gratifying, in a way. But it also doesn't pay much at all -- and yet she's still making too much money to qualify for any assistance. She's between that rock and a hard place too many Americans find themselves. 

Meanwhile, Barbie has two small children at home with growing bodies that need to be fed well:

I know what it's like to have your children look at you in your eyes and tell you that they're hungry and you have to force them to go to sleep as if they did something wrong.

Her youngest, Aidan, already has health problems that come from malnutrition -- an immune deficiency disease that's already causing hearing and speech problems. When he starts school he'll already be a step behind his peers because of those speech and hearing problems. He's barely gotten started in life, and the deck is already stacked against him. 

I think what breaks my heart is the way Barbie talks about personal responsibility. "It's up to me." She takes two buses to get to the grocery store. She promised herself she wouldn't feed her kids the same cheap processed food she grew up with, but she's finding now she can't afford to keep her promise. She's doing all she can. And when I watched her story, I wondered -- am I doing all I can to help people like Barbie feed her family right?

Because I do think it's partly my responsibility. A Place at the Table shows how, in the last century, America had a hunger epidemic. So we began government programs that addressed hunger on a large scale. And we did it -- we ended hunger. Then the economy tanked toward the end of the 1970s, Reagan was elected, hunger programs were slashed, and it's back: Hunger is an epidemic once again. Charities, food banks, and soup kitchens can't keep up with the demand and they definitely can't solve the problem. They're just a temporary band-aid.

We know how to solve this problem. We have the statistics that prove that investing in nationwide hunger programs SAVES US MONEY IN THE LONG RUN. But we lack the political courage do to it. Is this really the kind of country we want?

A Place at the Table is in theaters nationwide, and has been released on iTunes and ON Demand. Forget all the stories people have told you about food stamp fraud (that's gone way down since the welfare system was overhauled in the 1990s). Watch with an open mind, and then ask yourself, what do you think we should do about hunger?

Have you ever been on assistance? Did things get better after you found work?


Image via Participant Media/YouTube

economy, health care, in the news, human rights, sequester


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Pinkmani Pinkmani

I'll give you two reasons why she's having difficultiies feeding her family. 

1) She's a single mom (If she were married to someone who was working, that would be two incomes stead of one)

2) She doesn't have a higher education (Unless you have a record or movie deal, chances are you will struggle financially without an undergrad degree. And these days, you need more than an undergrad degree)

early... earlybird11

What about child support ?? Food banks ? Church's ? I understand the delimma. That is one reason ppl chose to just not work !!! But still... Do what u have to do ! Go bed if u have to

nonmember avatar MammaMel

Pinkmani: WRONG!!!

I am a single mom who makes it work VERY WELL thank you. I have a BA and work 40 hours a week. But guess what? I won't be able to feed my kid and myself in sequestration as I have a Government job. That's right, I will literally NOT BE EATING to make sure my kid can because of my 20% pay cut. And before you continue to get high-and-mighty, I was not where NEAR living above my means before sequestration.

early... earlybird11

What about child support ?? Food banks ? Church's ? I understand the delimma. That is one reason ppl chose to just not work !!! But still... Do what u have to do ! Go beg if u have to

nonmember avatar Toni

How horrible of the last 2 posters to assume that she either does not have an education or "child support" can save her! I am married mother of three I work full time and so does my husband, I have 2 children who are disabled and yes I recieve food stamps. I work, my husband works, yet we still fall into the poverty bracket....I pay taxes just like you do, and btw we both have high school educations....the problem of hunger will never end until closed minded people learn that hunger doesn't just affect the disfunctional parentless educationless families of the world! Could you look my 28 year old widow sister that maybe if she had worked harder maybe she wouldnt need food stamps following the untimely death of her husband?!? While a small percentage of those receiving help to cheat the system most I know are hard working families. Quick grouping them together, every family's story is unique.

nonmember avatar K

Wow, pink, classy. Judgmental much?

nonmember avatar Erin

Really? Go beg if you have to?! Yeah, people choose not to work because they're getting so much free food from churches and charities. In reading the article, it states that such institutions are only band-aids on the problem and not a solution.

Zenia6 Zenia6

I would like to see what practical solution the movie offers. Access to affordable and healthy food is a serious issue.  Education about what is "healthy" is severely lacking as well.

nonmember avatar Samantha

I hope i never have to look my little girl in the face and know that she is that hungry. Its one thing to regulate her meal times, but to not have hardly anything to give her? That would feel terrible. Im glad i have a partner, but if he ever left me idk how i would manage on my own.

curly... curlygirl31

Top ramen and cup noodles is better than letting your kid go hungry

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