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Here’s what people facing food insecurity want you to know about solving the hunger problem in America
Even though America is the world’s wealthiest nation, about 1 in 6 of our neighbors turned to food banks and community programs in order to feed themselves and their families last year. Think about it: More than 9 million children faced hunger in 2021 (1 in 8 children).
In order to solve a problem, we must first understand it. Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, released its second annual Elevating Voices: Insights Report and turned to the experts—people experiencing hunger—to find out how this issue can be solved once and for all.
Here are the four most important things people facing hunger want you to know.
Hunger is still an urgent crisis despite signs of economic recovery. In the months following the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, headlines report that the nation’s economic health is bouncing back after years of hardship. However, a big chunk of our population is experiencing a different reality. Recovery has been uneven nationwide, and grocery prices are still higher than normal despite easing supply chain issues. With the end of the federal support offered throughout the pandemic, child poverty rates have shot up, and families like Donnette McManus’ are feeling the squeeze.
“Even though you have your list, you have your budget, things are changing so quickly. Your salary can’t keep up. So, you get to the store with the same exact list, the same 10 items can cost you 50% more,” said McManus, who lives in Massachusetts.
Feeding America Insights Report
People facing hunger say that ending food insecurity is about more than just food. Ending hunger may sound like a simple task: make sure everyone, regardless of who they are and where they live, has access to the food they need. However, as neighbor-advocate Jennifer Estrada of Wisconsin pointed out, the reality is a bit more complex, especially considering that hunger is only a symptom of bigger economic challenges.
“As much as you work, the system is set up for you to continue in a cycle of food insecurity,” said Estrada. “Your whole check goes to a rent payment if you’re not fortunate enough to own a house, with nothing leftover. But you get kicked off if you make $2 more. There needs to be some security, there needs to be a revamping of the whole system ... It seems like instead of creating less barriers to help the families in our community, it seems like policies and procedures continue to make more barriers.”
One of the biggest takeaways from the 2023Insights Report is that housing is unaffordable. Working 40+ hours a week still isn’t enough to get by for many folks. Stopping hunger in its tracks is as much about strengthening economic well-being as it is about providing equitable access to enough nourishing food.
Hunger is an issue that intersects with more than what we put on our plates. Hunger strikes without discrimination, affecting anyone, anywhere, at any time. Millions of people in the U.S. are just one job loss, missed paycheck, or medical emergency away from experiencing food insecurity. Due to a long history of racism, discrimination, and oppression in our country, hunger impacts some communities more than others, including communities of color and communities in rural areas.
While the impact of hunger is widespread, people facing it note that the stigma associated with it can strip people of their dignity or deter them from accessing the food assistance programs they’re eligible for and need. There are also inequitable systems in place that do not work for everyone.
“Your basic clerk at your local DHS [Department of Human Services] office is only employed to input information and output information back to you. A lot of times, you feel like you’re not even a human. You’re just a number to them. And if I’m just going to be a number to you, I have a mental meltdown,” said Kimberly Harris, a resident of Washington, D.C.
Feeding America Insights Report
Ending food insecurity requires a catalyzing movement. While hunger remains a widespread and persistent problem, our country already has the tools to eradicate it forever—they just need to be utilized. Most people facing hunger said that federal and local governments should treat hunger as an urgent crisis—signaling that it will take all of us to bring hunger to a halt.
So how can you take action right now? Do your part and visit FeedingAmerica.org/ElevatingVoices to read the 2023 Elevating Voices: Insights Report and sign a petition to encourage Congress to pass legislation that will help ensure no one in America goes hungry. Let’s all pitch in to make the wealthiest nation become the happiest and most prosperous—for all.
A quick trip to the vet confirmed the cats' and family's suspicions.
It's not a secret that nearly all golden retrievers are identical. Honestly, magic has to be involved for owners to know which one belongs to them when more than one golden retriever is around. Seriously, how do they all seem have the same face? It's like someone fell asleep on the copy machine when they were being created.
Outside of collars, harnesses and bandanas, immediately identifying the dog that belongs to you has to be a secret skill because at first glance, their personalities are also super similar. That's why it's not surprising when one family dropped off their sweet golden pooch at daycare and to be groomed, they didn't notice the daycare sent out the wrong dog.
See, not even their human parents can tell them apart because when the swapped dog got home, nothing seemed odd to the owners at first. She was freshly groomed so any small differences were quickly brushed off. But this accidental doppelgänger wasn't fooling her feline siblings.
Once the dog was in their house, they noticed that their cats started behaving strangely towards their canine sibling. The cats started attacking the dog, likely trying to get it to tell them what they did with their real dog sister. Cat slaps and a house full of strange people didn't dampen the imposter's spirit though, in fact, that's what helped reveal the switcharoo.
This dog kept handing out face kisses and had no interest in seeing her favorite neighbor. After putting all of those things together, the owners decided to hightail it to the vet's office to scan the dog's microchip. Alas, they indeed had the wrong dog.
"We just never even thought that that would happen, and of course we thought we would know right? Like we're her parents, we would know something was wrong, we would know right off the bat that it wasn't Emmy," Kebby Kelley told Fox 9 Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Seems both golden retrievers got to go on a really strange adventure that deserves a lifetime of delicious dog treats for the confusion.
See both sweet pups below:
Did she go too far?
A 29-year-old woman had a baby girl, and after a brief maternity leave, she had to return to work. She couldn't afford childcare, so her husband, 35, reluctantly agreed to watch the baby while she was at work.
“It’s important to know that he’s been unemployed since 2021,” the woman wrote on Reddit’s AITA subforum. “He receives benefits. It’s also important to know that he’s extremely lazy. He doesn’t cook, clean, or help out in any way. I was nervous about leaving her home with her father, but I had no choice.”
The mother had reason to be worried about leaving her baby home alone with her husband, but in the beginning, things seemed fine. “When I came back from work, she was clean and sleeping. The next few times I came home, he was either playing with her, feeding her, or out for a walk with her. I was happy,” she wrote.
The mother thought things looked nice on the surface, but they weren’t as they seemed.
“A few days ago, my neighbor told me that as soon as I leave, the baby cries, and she cries for hours,” the mother wrote. “My neighbor said that she knocked on our door, and he finally answered it. He was sleeping. I concluded that he sleeps all day and right. Before I come home, he pretends to care for her.”
The mother hatched an elaborate plan to see if he was watching the baby or sleeping all day.
“I decided to take the day off of work. I left home at my regular time,” she wrote. “I waited 30 minutes and then went home. Sure enough, he was knocked out, sleeping with his stupid noise-canceling headphones on. I went to my daughter's room, scooped her up, and took her to my friend's house.”
Two hours later, she called her husband and said she was coming home. He was frantic because he couldn’t find the child and almost called the police. The wife then explained to her husband that she had taken the baby while he was asleep. When she got home his mother was there “calming his nerves,” and they both had strong words for the wife.
The husband went to live at his mother’s house, and their family members have been telling the wife that she’s a “terrible” person. She admits that her tactics may have been a bit “extreme” but doesn’t think she’s in the wrong.
Her husband was obviously neglectful and putting the baby in extreme danger, so it was commendable that the mom saw the situation for herself and took the baby to a safe place. However, the situation could have gotten worse if her husband had called the police and reported the kidnapping.
It probably would have been best if she had caught the husband sleeping and called him out for neglect instead of escalating the situation with a fake kidnapping. After the incident, the mother left her husband, took the baby to live with a friend, and is considering pressing charges against him.
The commenters on the Reddit thread overwhelmingly believed that the wife did the right thing by catching the husband in the act and leaving him.
"FYI, this isn't just a leave your husband because he sucks. You need to leave him before you loose your child. Neglect is abuse. Your neighbor was nice and called you instead of CPS. But if you stay with your husband they can take your child from you as well," mandytheratmom wrote. "So you managed to get inside the house and grab your child and he never noticed you? What if something happened to your kid while he had his noise-canceling headphones?!" Elderberryown666 added.
The mother responded to the repeated calls to leave her husband with a simple remark that sums up the whole story: "I’m done with him. He’s waiting for an apology."
What exactly are "girl" chores, anyway?
A 41-year-old mom with 3 boys, 12-year-old twins, and a 10-year-old, pays them $10 daily to do their chores. However, their pay is deducted $10 if they miss a day. The boys have to do their tasks 5 days a week, although it doesn’t matter which days they choose to work.
“This system has worked swimmingly for us since it started, the boys have always complied with completing their chores,” the mom wrote on Reddit.
Her 12-year-old son was getting ready to play Fortnite with a friend and told him he’d be ready in 15 minutes once he finished his chores. When the boys started playing the game, he told the friend he was in charge of dusting and sweeping the stairs, to which the friend responded, “It’s a good thing my parents don’t make me do girl chores.”
After learning what the friend said, the mom told her son that chores are genderless.
“I spoke with my son and explained to him that knowing how to clean was not specific to any gender, that it was a life skill everyone needed to know. I also told him that I understood that other families functioned differently; however, in our family, everyone did an equal share,” she wrote.
Over the next 3 days, the boy refused to do his “girl” chores. So, when allowance day came, the two brothers who did theirs received $50, but the 12-year-old who refused only got $20. The mom and the boy's father are divorced, so the 12-year-old called his dad to complain that he got $30 less, and the dad took his side.
“My ex-husband then proceeded to call me and tell me that I’m in the wrong for only giving him $20 and to imagine how it makes him feel that his brothers got more than he did. I explained to him that our other sons actually did their chores for all 5 days, so they were rewarded accordingly,” the mother wrote. “And assured him that if he had decided to start giving the boys an allowance, then he can run allowance however he wanted, but this was ultimately the system I had come up with.”
She added that her husband said she is being “insensitive” and “humiliating” their son.
The mom asked Reddit’s AITA subforum if she was in the wrong, and the commenters unanimously agreed that she was right. Other commenters noted that she made a smart decision leaving her ex-husband because he took the side of his child, who refused to do work for sexist reasons.
The only problem the commenters had was that the mom was being a little too generous by giving them $50 a week. That’s $600 a month for 3 kids.
"It’s the real world, you don’t do your job, you don’t get paid, and I actually think $10 a day is pretty generous for allowance," Longjumping-Gur-6581 wrote. "$10/day is insane for that age,” fIumpf added.
“You’re not taking money out of your son’s allowance, you’re not paying him for services not rendered,” Excitedorca wrote. “The sexist, misogynistic reasons behind not completing the chores need to be corrected and that won’t happen by rewarding it.”
We're stronger together.
Madeleine Albright once said, "There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." It turns out that might actually be a hell on Earth, because women just do better when they have other women to rely on, and there's research that backs it up.
A study published in the Harvard Business Review found that women who have a strong circle of friends are more likely to get executive positions with higher pay. "Women who were in the top quartile of centrality and had a female-dominated inner circle of 1-3 women landed leadership positions that were 2.5 times higher in authority and pay than those of their female peers lacking this combination," Brian Uzzi writes in the Harvard Business Review.
Part of the reason why women with strong women backing them up are more successful is because they can turn to their tribe for advice. Women have to face different challenges than men, such as unconscious bias, and being able to turn to other women who have had similar experiences can help you navigate a difficult situation. It's like having a road map for your goals.
It's interesting to note that women in leadership positions who lacked this style of support system didn't make as much as the women who did. "While women who had networks that most resembled those of successful men (i.e., centrality but no female inner circle) placed into leadership positions that were among the lowest in authority and pay," Uzzi writes. Men and women have different needs, and that even extends to their tribe.
But it's not just in the workplace. A 2006 study found that women who had 10 or more friends were more likely to survive the disease than women who lacked close friends. The study found socially isolated women were 64% more likely to die from cancer, and 43% more likely to have a breast cancer reoccurrence. Friendship is literally the best medicine.
Never underestimate the power of a group text with your girlfriends. Having a place to commiserate over sexism and support other women with goofy gifs when someone succeeds can enrich your life on all fronts.
This article originally appeared on 12.03.19
His videos are like therapy.
Most of us who live in the U.S. are used to looking out a window or walking out our front door and seeing squirrels. The cute, fluffy-tailed rodents often appear perfectly pettable, but they generally scamper away when humans get too close.
That is not the case for TikTok creator Derrick Downey Jr., however, as he has not only befriended his neighborhood squirrels but goes all out to help them live their best squirrel lives.
Downey shared a video in May of 2022 in which he chats with a couple of squirrels on his porch while feeding them and offering them water. That video received over 26 million views and kicked off a whole series of videos showcasing the adorable antics of Richard, Maxine, Hector, Consuela, Norma (may she rest in peace), and Hood Rat Raymond. He's built Richard a house, rescued Maxine's babies, mourned Norma's transition (to wherever squirrels go when they die) and more.
People can't get enough, and who can blame them? Squirrels are the best (when they're not tearing up your patio furniture and stealing cotton for their nest, as Downey has experienced.)
Here's how it all started:
It's fun to see how he has built up trust with his squirrel friends. He even shared a video showing some of the steps it took to get them to eat from his hand.
Building trust takes patience 🐿❤️￼ Maxine and I working on a building a stronger bond, she’s more at ease when Richard is around but I would day today was a success. #foryoupage #squirrelsoftiktok #squirreltok #trustissues #derrickdowneyjr
Part of what people love about Downey's videos is the way he talks to the squirrels—it almost feels like therapy. As one commenter wrote, "I think I just healed my inner child." Others compare Downey to a real-life Disney princess.
All of his patience and trust-building have paid off. Watch how Maxine will now jump right onto him for a snack.
Jump #pets #squirrel #foryoupage
Downey built an elaborate home on his balcony for Richard and Maxine, which was even showcased in Architectural Digest. He decorates it seasonally, which is hilarious. They even have furniture, a fireplace and a television. Check this out:
Maxine never invite me to watch TV with her #cocomelon #fyp
But it's not all fun and games for Downey's squirrel friends. When some trees were cut down in front of his apartment, a nest of squirrel babies was displaced. The tree trimmers put the babies in another tree, but Downey was afraid dogs could get to them where they put them. He took their nest inside, made sure they were warm and comfortable and tried to feed them.
Then he found out that they were actually Maxine's babies! Watch Mama Maxine collect her young 'uns and take them to a new nest she made.
Rescuing these baby squirrels and reuniting them with mama Maxine, was the greatest feeling ever! 🐿️ #babysquirrel #squirrels #squirrelsoftiktok #wildlife #wildliferescue #animallover #nature #foryou
It's delightful and strangely addicting to follow the goings-on of Downey's squirrel friends and watch him interact with them. Follow @derrickdowneyjr on TikTok for more.
"The results of these digitally enhanced recordings are arresting, almost unbelievable. The idea of hearing the voices of actual slaves from the plantations of the Old South is as powerful—as startling, really—as if you could hear Abraham Lincoln or Robert E. Lee speak." - Ted Koppel
When we think about the era of American slavery, many of us tend to think of it as the far distant past. While slavery doesn't exist as a formal institution today, there are people living who knew formerly enslaved black Americans first-hand. In the wide arc of history, the legal enslavement of people on U.S. soil is a recent occurrence—so recent, in fact, that we have voice recordings of interviews with people who lived it.
Many of us have read written accounts of enslavement, from Frederick Douglass's autobiography to some of the 2,300 first-person accounts housed in the Library of Congress. But how many of us have heard the actual voices of people who were enslaved telling their own stories?
ABC News' Nightline with Ted Koppel aired a segment in 1999 in which we can hear the first-person accounts of people who had been enslaved taken from interviews conducted in the 1930s and 40s (also housed in the Library of Congress). They include the voice of a man named Fountain Hughes, who was born into slavery in 1848 and whose grandfather had "belonged to" Thomas Jefferson.
As Koppel says in the segment, "The results of these digitally enhanced recordings are arresting, almost unbelievable. The idea of hearing the voices of actual slaves from the plantations of the Old South is as powerful—as startling, really—as if you could hear Abraham Lincoln or Robert E. Lee speak."
Indeed, hearing formerly enslaved people share their experiences of being bought and sold like cattle, sleeping on bare pallets, and witnessing whippings for insubordination is a heartbreaking reminder of how close we are to this ugly chapter of our history. The segment is well worth ten minutes to watch:
This article originally appeared on 03.09.20