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:
This viral tool could be a game-changer for some.
Reading is a fundamental tool of learning for most people, which is why it's one of the first things kids learn in school and why nations set literacy goals.
But even those of us who are able to read fluently might sometimes struggle with the act of reading itself. Perhaps we don't read as quickly as we wish we could or maybe our minds wander as our eyes move across the words. Sometimes we get to the end of a paragraph and realize we didn't retain anything we just read.
People with focus or attention issues can struggle with reading, despite having no actual reading disabilities. It can be extremely frustrating to want to read something and have no issues with understanding the material, yet be unable to keep your mind engaged with the text long enough to get "into" what you're reading.
But what if there were a font that could help you stay focused? That could help you not only read faster but better retain what you've just read?
That's what the creators of Bionic Reading claim is possible with their font tool."Bionic Reading revises texts so that the most concise parts of words are highlighted," the Swiss company's website reads. "This guides the eye over the text and the brain remembers previously learned words more quickly."
Give it a try:
The gist is that our eyes don't need to focus on the entire word because our brains can fill in the rest for us. By bolding the first part of the word, we're more quickly able to move from word to word.
"Bionic Reading aims to play a supporting role in the absorption of volume text," states the website. "We see technological progress as an opportunity for all those who want to increase the pleasure of reading in a noisy and hectic world in a focused way and without distraction."
While there are no studies cited on this method of reading, there are plenty of anecdotes about it being helpful. The example shared by @WhattheADHD on Twitter got people's attention and many people responded with enthusiasm at how much easier the bionic reading text was for them to read.
"This is amazing! I have ADHD and I didn’t even realize that I was having trouble fixating when I read," wrote one person. "My eye latches right on to the bold face. Can’t wait to try reading a book again. It’s been all audiobooks for a while."
"It's incredible how reading this feels like finally unlocking 100% of your brain," wrote another.
However, not everyone was impressed or thrilled with the sample. Some people said that they had a harder time reading the bionic text or that it distracted or slowed them down. Both positive and negative responses came from a diverse pool of people. Some who described themselves as neurodivergent said that they loved it and some said it was harder. The same went for people who said they were neurotypical, so it's hard to say who this tool may specifically help the most. Everyone's brains work differently, and different people will find different things helpful.
Bionic reading might be a game-changer for some, but it's not the only tool of its kind. There are speed-reading programs that train you to stop reading each word and allow your brain to read visually instead of auditorily. There are also various methods of making reading easier by adjusting how your eyes move across the text.
For instance, check out this "space reading" technique:
Bionic Reading has a free text converter on its website that you can use to try out its font changes. A YouTube clip from the company also shows possibilities for how the font can be adjusted to individual preferences, making more or less of the initial letters bolded.
And again, if this doesn't work for you, then it's probably not made for you. For people who struggle with reading, something like Bionic Reading could make a huge difference.
Three cheers for technology being used to help people overcome difficulties and make learning easier and more efficient.
This article originally appeared on 5.30.22.
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."
"She got an entire childhood in less than a minute."
Ahhh, siblings. Sometimes they're your best friends and other times your living room turns into an MMA octagon over the remote control. If you grew up with brothers and sisters, it's hard to imagine what it would be like to be an only child. (That's not to say you didn't dream about it when your sister stole your favorite shirt for the 30th time.)
But not everyone has siblings, so it can be equally as hard for someone who grew up as an only child to picture what it would be like to have them. Only children also likely had moments where they dreamt of having a little brother or sister, not realizing the literal torment siblings can inflict on each other.
TikTok creator Lonnie IIV recently posted a video of himself with two other friends seemingly out to lunch, when the girl in the group asked what it was like to grow up with siblings. In less than a minute she realized she lucked out being an only child because her two guy friends gave her a crash course in sibling behavior.
In the clip, Lonnie asked if she wanted her drink but then promptly told her she didn't want it before swirling his fingers around in her cup. This prompted the other friend to throw his balled-up straw paper at her before repeatedly dipping chopsticks into her soup. The woman just laughed and looked seemingly confused at the nonsense her guy friends were displaying. Of course, no sibling experience would be complete without the classic "stop touching me" added for a little pizzazz.
"She got an entire childhood in less than a minute," one user wrote.
A different user said, "This is so accurate."
Other commenters started sharing the things they did to their siblings or vice versa. The comment thread was full of childhood sibling...nostalgia? Seems weird to look back on those memories with fondness, yet here we are.
Honestly, my brother used to ask if he could have a bite of my food, and when I said no, he would just lick it before asking again. In turn, when my brothers wouldn't let me play video games with them, I would pinch my arm until it turned red and run out of the room crying to tell my mom they hit me.
Kids are weird sometimes and thankfully there are usually doses of love in between. But if you grew up with siblings, you'll likely appreciate the video below. Or it'll give you flashbacks. It's a toss-up. If you don't have siblings, you may feel the need to have us evaluated. We turned out alright...mostly.
Don’t ask, just bring it
This article originally appeared on 2.17.23
Technology is the single greatest contributor to climate change but it may also soon be used to offset the damage we've done to our planet since the Industrial Age began.
In September 2018, a project in Myanmar used drones to fire "seed missiles" into remote areas of the country where trees were not growing. Less than a year later, thousands of those seed missiles have sprouted into 20-inch mangrove saplings that could literally be a case study in how technology can be used to innovate our way out of the climate change crisis.
"We now have a case confirmed of what species we can plant and in what conditions," Irina Fedorenko, co-founder of Biocarbon Engineering, told Fast Company. "We are now ready to scale up our planting and replicate this success."
According to Fedoranko, just two operators could send out a mini-fleet of seed missile planting drones that could plant 400,000 trees a day -- a number that quite possibly could make massive headway in combating the effects of manmade climate change.
The drones were designed by an ex-NASA engineer. And with a pressing need to reseed an area in Myanmar equal to the size of Rhode Island, the challenge is massive but suddenly within reach. Bremley Lyngdoh, founder and CEO of World Impact, says reseeding that area could theoretically house as many as 1 billion new trees.
"Obviously, planting a billion trees will take a long time without the help of drones," Lyngdoh told Fast Company.
But they've now got a powerful new ally in their corner. For context, it took the Worldview Foundation 7 years to plant 6 million trees in Myanmar. Now, with the help of the drones, they hope to plant another 4 million before the end of 2019.
Myanmar is a great case study for the project. In addition to the available land for the drone project, the nation has been particularly hit by the early effects of climate change in recent years. Rising sea levels are having a measurable impact on the population. In addition to their ability to clear CO2 from the atmosphere, healthy trees can also help solidify the soil, which can reduce the kind of soil erosion that has been affecting local populations in Myanmar.
Going forward, technologies like seed-planting drones could help stem the tide of catastrophic climate change while our governments and societies work to change the habits of consumers and corporations that are driving the problem. Our endless hunger for new technology may be the driving force behind climate change and deforestation but it could also end up being the solution to a problem.
This article originally appeared on 4.17.19
"Our moral compass is skewed if we think things like this are acceptable."
These are called "anti-homeless spikes." They're about as friendly as they sound.
As you may have guessed, they're intended to deter people who are homeless from sitting or sleeping on that concrete step. And yeah, they're pretty awful.
The spikes are a prime example of how cities design spaces to keep homeless people away.
Not all concrete steps have spikes on them, but outdoor seating in cities like Montreal and Tokyo have been sneakily designed to prevent people from resting too comfortably for too long.
This guy sawing through a bench was part of a 2006 protest in Toulouse, France, where public seating intentionally included armrests to prevent people from lying down.
Of course, these designs do nothing to fight the cause or problem of homelessness. They're just a way of saying to homeless people, "Go somewhere else. We don't want to look at you,"basically.
One particular set of spikes was outside a former night club in London. And a local group got sick of staring at them.
"Spikes do nothing more than shoo the realities of poverty and inequality away from your backyard — so you don't have to see it or confront what you can do to make things more equal," Borromeo told Upworthy. "And that is really selfish."
"Our moral compass is skewed if we think things like this are acceptable."
A bed covers up spikes on the concrete.
The move by Space, Not Spikes has caused quite a stir in London and around the world. The simple but impactful idea even garnered support from music artist Ellie Goulding.
"That was amazing, wasn't it?" Borromeo said of Goulding's shout-out on Instagram.
Artist's puppy books and home comforts.
"[The project has] definitely touched a nerve and I think it is because, as a whole, humans will still look out for each other," Borromeo told Upworthy. "Capitalism and greed conditions us to look out for ourselves and negate the welfare of others, but ultimately, I think we're actually really kind."
"We need to call out injustice and hypocrisy when we see it."
A message to offer support in contrast with current anti-homeless laws.
These spikes may be in London, but the U.S. definitely has its fair share of anti-homeless sentiment, too.
Spikes are pretty obvious — they're a visual reminder of a problem many cities are trying to ignore. But what we can't see on the street is the rise of anti-homeless laws that have cropped up from sea to shining sea.
Legislation that targets homeless people — like bans on panhandling and prohibiting people from sleeping in cars — has increased significantly in recent years.
For instance, a report by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty that analyzed 187 American cities found that there's been a 43% hike in citywide bans on sitting or lying down in certain spaces since 2011.
Thankfully, groups like "Space, Not Spikes" are out there changing hearts and minds. But they need our help.
The group created a video to complement its work and Borromeo's hoping its positive underlying message will motivate people to do better.
"[The world] won't always be happy-clappy because positive social change needs constructive conflict and debate," she explained. "But we need to call out injustice and hypocrisy when we see it."
Check out their video below:
This article originally appeared on 07.24.15
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