The New Face of Hunger | MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger

“It was the best time, when my mom had a job. I actually enjoyed life. I used to get to do whatever. Now, I get up in the morning and put on my shoes like anybody else, but when I get to school, I think about losing our house. 

My mom got laid off four years ago from her job at the school district. It really gets to me, it really does, that they let her go. She’d been there twenty years and is more qualified than a lot of teachers, but it seems that getting full time work around here is all political now.  The only work my mom can get these days is substitute teaching. It’s part time and not enough to pay for the basics. The fact that my 84-year-old grandpa is keeping us from losing our house, pretty much gets to me. Before I go to bed at night, I actually pray that we won’t.

I have a lot of weight on my shoulders for a fourteen year old. I can’t stand our situation. I’ve had to sacrifice a lot since my mom lost her job. I’m actually wearing my mom’s pants right now because we can’t afford to buy me clothes. I can’t take the college classes I qualified for because we can’t afford them. My mom doesn’t know it, but I quit baseball so she wouldn’t have to spend money on my uniform. It’s not a good feeling when you’re sitting in the house eating chips and potted meat as your friends are off playing ball and going to steakhouses when they win. It’s not a good feeling at all.

Our food stamps have gone from $300 to $200 a month for my mom and me. We’re not able to afford healthy foods that some people can. It’s usually chips, bologna sandwiches and all that. We’ve had to open up canned foods from the pantry that’s probably older than me.  Eating like this and knowing that your friends are eating regular food makes me feel like I’m not normal. We run out of food some months and I’ve gone days without sleep because of hunger. The next day, I’ll go through class pinching myself, doing stuff to stay awake. 

Being hungry affects your appearance, how you act. When I’m hungry, I’m not in the mood for anything.  I’m depressed. Then, my mom picks me up and I continue to work as hard as I can in school. I’ve wanted to become a surgeon since the fourth grade. I keep reminding myself that if I work hard in life, I can get to where I’m fine. Then I can buy my mom a new house.

It’s not fair that we have to go through this. It’s not fair for anybody to have to go through this. You shouldn’t have to worry about where your next meal is gonna come from – especially people with kids.”

Dylan, Jackson Country, Kentucky 

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Learn More: Our holistic approach to ending hunger  | The New Face of Hunger