Our first guest blogger is Kim Hobbs, a staff member at the Work Station. She sent in this Letter to the Editor to the Athens News. It was published Monday, July 16. We welcome your comments!
To the Editor:
Poverty definitely looks different today than it did when I was growing up. We were poor but I didn’t realize it. While we had toys, we spent the majority of our time outside creating our own “live” roll playing games, building forts out of sheets, having plays for the parents in our garage, and playing countless games of hopscotch on the sidewalk. These activities cost next to nothing. I did not have a TV in my room (remember having only three stations to choose from?), an iPod, a cell phone, Playstation, etc. A once a year trip to Geauga Lake and an occasional meal out at The Ground Round were luxuries. Today, most kids would be devastated to live this way. Believe me, I am as guilty if not guiltier than the next at spoiling my kids. We need to re-think our lifestyles and how we are bringing up our children.
Poverty is growing. Unfortunately, it is becoming a permanent part of our everyday structure. Food banks can’t keep up with the demand. Food stamp use has increased and while I applaud this assistance, it has also aided in creation a new “health hazard” for poverty stricken families. Obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes have immensely increased over the years. Why? If a family of five has to budget $300 a month for food, how is it spent? Buying lean cuts of meat? Fresh vegetables? Whole grain breads? No: most opt to stretch their dollar. A package of hot dogs, buns, bag of chips, and a can of vegetables for dinner could cost a family of five approximately $4. It's cheap and quick but the salt, fat and lack of nutrition in a meal like this can be really detrimental to a family when it's the only thing they eat. Most wages are too low to provide adequately for a family and lead a normal economic lifestyle.
There seems to be a hardening attitude from people towards the poor. People are now tending to blame the poor for their situations. While I agree some take advantage of the system, I can guarantee you that the poor want nothing more than to change their situation. DJFS has made it harder to sit at home and collect the “welfare” check. Today, most recipients must perform some type of job training or labor in order for them to maintain their benefits. This is providing the unskilled with new founded skills to take with them to new jobs or education.
While I don’t think poverty can be eliminated, it can be reduced. As parents, we should all get back to the basics with our children. We need to teach them the importance of a good education and good family values. It is so much easier to agree with your kids when they ask for something that they don’t need than to say no and create an argument. As employers, we need provide wages and benefits to our employees that they can live on. As consumers, we should purchase good and services locally and reinvest in the local economy.
I truly believe that as a team we can work towards a goal of reducing poverty.
Work Inforcement Act Social Program Coordinator
For some recent news/opinion in the Athens News regarding poverty and food, check out these articles:
Concerned about the rising cost of food? You better get used to it by Gwynne Dyer (Pub. 7/12)
Letter: Step into the shoes of someone who's poor to really understand by Missy Cangiamilla (Pub. 7/12)