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January 9th, 2012
12:29 PM ET

Living the income gap: Poor, but feeding the rich

Atlanta (CNN) - Andono Bryant shuffles across an old shuffleboard court to pick up groceries at the food co-op.

"This is the real Occupy," she says.

The 44-year-old mother of five grown children scoops up boxes of food. She doesn't have time to go a mile away to the Occupy protests and shake her fist. She's just trying to make sure her family can eat today.

A few miles north of the Georgia Avenue Food Cooperative, Andono's husband, Alan, 47, serves steaks to some of the targets of the Occupy movement: the 1% of Americans who have enjoyed nearly 60% of all gains in income over the last three decades.

Alan Bryant mans the grill at Ruth's Chris Steak House, where a well-marbled cowboy ribeye fetches $44 and a fully loaded 1-pound potato goes for $7.

He prides himself on providing a good meal to customers.

"Once you get a person to smile as they eat, my day is fulfilled," the line cook says. "When I see other people happy, it makes me happy.

"Even though on the inside, it really hurts."

It hurts because it's a constant reminder of the couple's shattered dreams. The Bryants used to make $40,000, lived in their own home and gave to others. Now they live below the poverty line in the city with the widest income gap between rich and poor than anywhere else in the nation.

They're among the millions of Americans who fell out of the middle class.

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