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27 Jan, 2012 23:47

Hungry and poor in the Big Apple

One-in-five children in the US are currently living in poverty. RT’s Anastasia Churkina takes a look at a harsh reality of America’s recession that many wish to avoid.

Children are commonly associated with being playful and innocent, but one-in-five in the US are currently struggling with hunger. “The federal government tells us that by the time a child reaches the age of 18, it will have a one out of every two chance of being on food stamps. So the federal government tells us itself that half of all children will be on food stamps by the time they reach the age of 18,” said Michael Snyder, founder of the Economic Collapse Blog.On any given day, one-in-four are on food stamps, and over 21 percent are living in poverty.For African-American kids, that number jumps to 35 percent.“In a country with a government and a model that’s focused on the well-being of its people, obviously its children would be a priority, but unfortunately the United States is not a country with that kind of model,” said author and lawyer Eva Golinger. Food pantries like this one see parents barely keeping afloat financially, their paychecks not stretching to feed their children every day.“We are serving now almost 12,000 individuals per month. The majority are children,” said founder and executive director of the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger Organization, Melony Samuels.Forty-four percent of single mothers in America are on food stamps. Yet struggle to put food on the table.“I have six kids of mine, I have 15 grandkids, and it’s rough. The food stamps – it’s not enough, so you’ve got to go out there and struggle,” said jobless mother Janet Matos.Getting food is a non-stop battle for these mothers.“A lot of people don’t come out because of pride. But now, even pride gets pushed aside when your children are hungry,” said jobless mother Anna Jones. For these people, poverty is a growing pandemic.“I’m afraid of what’s going to happen to the next generation, because everything is just falling apart. I feel very angry. I feel like they’re making the poor suffer”, said single mother of two Saadia McMurren. The Voices of Poverty is a website showing many faces of American hunger.“The single greatest economic challenge facing America – the vast numbers cascading into poverty. This is something that just shouldn’t exist in a country with all the food resources that America has,” said journalist and author Sasha Abramsky, who created the site. RT went to a New York school, one of many, where more than half of students are eligible for free lunches – in order to ensure the kids get at least 1 proper meal a day.“It is sad. It is, it is sad. And I wonder when people are going to get it together,” said stay at home grandmother Cecilia Banks. Experts say the problem of hunger in the US is more widespread than in other developed nations.“It’s getting worse, it’s not getting better in this country. It’s a crisis. You look at countries like the UK or France, they have child poverty rates that are under 10 percent – yet in the US it’s now well over 20 percent,” said Michael Snyder. Meanwhile, America is estimated to waste from a quarter to an entire half of all the food it produces. Occupy Wall Street activist Messiah Rhodes was homeless and underfed in his teens. He says times are much tougher now.“Just a few years ago, during the bush era, I was like 17, 18. The crazy thing about that time, even though I was homeless, I was still able to find work," he said. A growing number of Americans say the time has come to bail out the people.“They were very quick to bail out Wall Street, when Wall Street was in trouble. But Wall Street wasn’t in danger of going hungry,” said Michael Snyder. With one-in-five children in America facing hunger, brushing the elephant in the room aside can’t remain an option for the US much longer. The suffering children are not only missing out on meals, but their entire childhoods.