On being poor
People line up at a food pantry. The number of people in poverty rose in 17 states, the Census Bureau says.
September 20th, 2012
05:02 PM ET

On being poor

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) The Census Bureau released a depressing statistic Thursday: 46.2 million people in America fell below the poverty line last year. One in five children are poor. 

What does it feel like to live in poverty?

Writer John Scalzi knows.

He remembers a Southern California childhood marred by a broken family. His mother put her two children in the back of the car and drove away from the home they’d known.

She bought a box of Raisin Bran and warned her children: “That has to last.”

John Scalzi's essay on poverty was based on his own experiences.

Scalzi, 43, was in the first grade then.

Years later, the Raisin Bran memory became a line in an essay called “Being Poor.” He wrote it in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when so many asked why the poor of New Orleans had not fled their drowned city.

It occurred to him then that wealthier Americans did not understand that the poor do not always have the luxury of choice.

But he knew.

He was the kid who wore the cheap shoes from Lucky Drug Store – the ones with the glued-on soles. He could feel them come off on the playground.

He was the kid who discovered letters from his mom to his dad begging for child support and the kid hoping he would get invited to a friend’s for dinner. He once stole a piece of meat from Ralph’s supermarket, fried it up and cleaned the plate before Mom came home. He then told her she didn’t have to make any dinner because he wasn’t hungry anyway.

Here are a few other ways Scalzi measured poverty:

Being poor is getting angry at your kids for asking for all the crap they see on TV.

Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won’t hear you say “I get free lunch” when you get to the cashier.

Being poor is living next to the freeway.

Being poor is a heater in only one room of the house.

Being poor is hoping your kids don’t have a growth spurt.

Being poor is Goodwill underwear.

Being poor is thinking $8 an hour is a really good deal.

Being poor is stopping the car to take a lamp from a stranger’s trash.

Being poor is making lunch for your kid when a cockroach skitters over the bread, and you looking over to see if your kid saw.

Being poor is a sidewalk with lots of brown glass on it.

Being poor is picking the 10 cent ramen instead of the 12 cent ramen because that’s two extra packages for every dollar.

Read Scalzi’s full essay here.

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Filed under: Census • Economy • How we live • Poverty • Who we are
soundoff (701 Responses)
  1. Kim

    This is what being poor meant to me as a child and means to me as an adult:

    I recall my mother heating our home with a gas stove because our heat was shut off – we couldn't afford to pay the bill

    My shoes were hand me downs, too small and I have bunyuns on my feet as a result.

    Going to bed hungry

    my mother suffered from obvious depression

    my mother made me school "folders" out of album covers – because we couldn't afford school supplies. Kids ridiculed me, of course.

    Having clothes that never fit right. I'd wear safety pins on my pants just to keep them from falling down and hoping nobody would ever notice.

    Dreading getting on the school bus in the morning because I knew the moment I walked on I'd be ridiculed by all the kids on the bus for "living in a barn".

    Remembering the children into my adulthood who were NOT mean to me

    Not being able to participate in extra curricular activities because we didn't have the money

    appreciating that my mother saved up any penny she could to make sure that we always had Christmas gifts – for that I am grateful for ALL of her sacrifices

    Made me a stronger more independent person – a woman who never had to depend on a man or otherwise to take care of me. Everything I have I worked for myself.

    Feeling sorry for people who complain about trivial things in life and those who want things handed to them on a silver platter – you miss out on the true meaning in life and what's really important, and you waste your breath complaining that things aren't "perfect". It's a joke to me that your parents never taught you to appreciate the things you have.

    Being grateful for the things I have and not dwelling on what I don't have, but knowing that I could lose it all tomorrow and the only thing that will matter if I do is that I have my health, happiness and loved ones near by.

    Learning not to judge others. For I have spent my entire childhood being judged and ridiculed by others, and I know full well what it means to be on the receiving end and having no control over the situation you are in. That applies to any person's situation – not just children.

    Money does not make people happy.

    You have to play the hand you were dealt.

    For this, I believe I have grown into an empathetic, kind hearted, respectful and appreciative human being who does my best not to take life for granted.

    Live for today, not for tomorrow.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      oh yeah, and the free lunches at school

      September 20, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
      • Larry L

        Thank you. Sometimes, but rarely, I hear things that make me feel better about humanity. I wish everybody could appreciate the depth of your comments.

        September 20, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • another kim

      I grew up in Canada. You described my childhood, too. Except that there was no free lunch – I hid in the bathroom so nobody would see I didn't have a lunch at all. I'd steal candy from the dishes at the secretary's desk in the office – to this day I can't suck on a peppermint without gagging. My teachers ignored the fact that fell asleep all the time in class. Had trouble associating things properly in class. Inappropriate reactions to events that made the other kids see me as weird – I was weird.

      My parents were both teachers – my dad at a university. He left our family because he was "disillusioned" and threatened that he'd get a judgement to garnishee mom's wages if she tried to get child support. At 13, 11 and 10 we were "old enough to earn our own dinners" (we baby sat for $1.25/hr. Did you know you can buy one can of off-brand soda for 11 cents and the fizz fills you up? That was in the early 80s).

      Mom was great – she stayed with us. And she drank Vodka like a fish. What's with this depression stuff, right? SHe'd go on 3-hour screaming rants and scare the living daylights out of us. Every penny of her money not in the bottle, cigarettes, or coffee (come on, we didn't have milk but she had coffee?) went to paying the mortgage so we wouldn't be out on the street.

      No school lunches. Teachers covering for each other. In Commie Canada. Don't tell me the US doesn't have it better. Cheaper clothes than we could ever afford in Canada.

      Yeah, I'm stronger for it. I'm blazing bulletproof. And when I've been unemployed, it was because I felt like writing a book and I've never taken a penny of pogie.

      I'm a Republican and I believe the wealthy, who now include me, should keep their money because they spend it more wisely than those who didn't EARN it.

      But please, people, keep an eye on your neighbors. The kids stealing your berries may need 'em.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kim

        I'm a republican too.

        Sounds like a psychotherapist would be beneficial to assist with your emotional disturbance, whatever that may be that harbors your psyche from your childhood – I can only imagine what a self absorbed mother who denied you what you should have been provided has done to you. For me, fortunately, my mother wasn't selfish, and therefore, I've learned to SHARE with the needy, not punish them for my childhood misfortunes.

        September 20, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
      • Larry L

        A different Kim – and a much different person resulting from hardship. I too had a tough story and have learned that the strongest people don't get mean and cynical, that's just for those of us too weak to develop kindness and compassion in the face of adversity. I include myself because I'm a work in progress – not trying to gain more wealth but more true character.

        September 20, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
      • another kim

        Who am I punishing by keeping the money that I earn?
        And what do I choose to do with it? Well it happens, I own a business that employs young mothers, two of whom have used the proceeds of their WORK to EARN a certificate. They used their on-the-job EXPERIENCE to move on to higher-paying jobs (I gave them glowing references. Health care field. Nothing sordid, nothing whatsoever to do with s3x). There's a third working her way up, now. The money I put into that business (and I also work full time) means that I don't take the vacations, wear the clothes, or drive the car you'd expect. "Rich people" of that sort are mostly just spending themselves into being poor people. Truly rich people – those who are rich in family, love and joy – already know that.
        No, I really don't know how you thought I might be "punishing" someone else by keeping the money I earned, but as a matter of fact, it's not just the state of enjoying my earnings – my doing so really does result in trickle down. No joke, no lie.

        September 21, 2012 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
      • alfred

        WOW!! I stole those berries??? lol. my life in USA. only worse.

        September 21, 2012 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
    • schoolsub

      Kim, I think that you do have to admit that neither of us had it very well growing up but I guess we both did alright. See, we both have these nice computers that we can use to debate "but I was really poorer than you."

      September 20, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. unodude

    i get so sick of hearing about poor people with 5 kids living off welfare.. the one thing i never hear about is the reason for most of this. these women need to keep their legs closed. in other words, teach birth control.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • schoolsub

      Also, besides "keeping their legs crossed", we need to teach our men what it is to be a responsible husband and father. It means COMMITMENT TO YOUR FAMILY. Stick with your mate and offspring, through good times and bad.

      September 20, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Faxon

    What, exactly, am I supposed to learn from this article? Life has no guarantees. None. How about an article about what it's like to have a terminal illness? To be an amputee? To not have the latest iPhone? Sheesh.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Charlie

    Ha! These silly income classes- and the fake commercialism, capitalism, politics, immediate gratification and glorious and endless perversions. Glad all those worthless excuses for actors on CNN have something to exploit.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. EKIA

    Obama has failed. More people live in poverty than ever before. It's time to turn the country over to someone with a proven track record of creating jobs and fixing ailing companies.

    Romney/Ryan 2012!!!!!!

    September 20, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • William1956

      His track record of creating jobs, is from the jobs he created overseas. And and fixing ailing companies, the company he fixed was the SLC Olympics and the Olympics is not a company.

      September 20, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
      • Blake Leighton


        Sent from my iPhone

        September 20, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denver_mike

      Mittins had created a bunch of jobs, in china. His company ended american jobs and have them to foreigners.

      September 20, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • kthln3

      Sweetie, if you think "Obama has failed" just wait till you get a dose of 4 years of Romney.

      That is, if he had a chance to win. He won't. There are too many working poor in America like myself & my husband, whose world was turned upside when we lost lucrative jobs we'd had for over 20 years when the economy started falling apart in 2008. Throw in two catastrophic illnesses (my husband, my elderly parents) and BOOM, suddenly your upper-middle class life has vaporized. But I don't blame Obama: he walked into a hornet's nest that the REPUBLICANS created and it can't be solved in 4 years. Especially with a Congress that would not work with him.

      God help us all if elitist Romney wins. But I am certain that he won't.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. sameeker

    Being poor is:

    Not having a family life because both parents have to work minimum wage jobs just to survive.

    Having to work a minimum wage job because you don't dare risk asking for anything better because you need the money.

    Having to pay to cash you paycheck because you can't afford a bank account.

    Having to pay more for things like insurance because you have to pay by the month instead of writing out a check for several hundred dollars.

    Getting kicked around by business, the police and other powers that be because you don't have the money to fight them.

    Having to buy junk at Walmart because you cant afford quality stores.

    Being the one hardest hit when gas prices skyrocket because you barely make enough to get back and forth to work as it is.

    Having to put up with tyrannical bosses and coworkers because there are 1,000 people who will take your job.

    And lastly, not having a say in your government because you don't have a ton of cash to pay to be heard.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • sameeker

      Part 2:

      Being blamed for you predicimate because you didn't inherit money or you don't make enough to buy stock and start a business because you don't even earn enough to survive.

      Having to work mandatory overtime every weekend while the top people at the company are vacationing in the Bahamas.

      Doing all the work while some rich investor takes all of the profits.

      working 50 – 60 hours a eek and still having to accept food stamps because the company is too cheap to pay a living wage.

      September 20, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. William1956

    I can remember when they started serving breakfast at school so I went to the lunch room to get breakfast and I got my breakfast and when I got to the end of the line their was a woman and a cash register and she said that will be 50 cents please so I dug deep into my pockets and found 35 cents and handed it to her and she said that is not enough so i walked away hungry and never went back.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • candymann

      I am a nurse and with paying for college and kids and having serious health issues. I feel for you, u are not alone, stay strong.

      September 21, 2012 at 2:06 am | Report abuse |
  8. Memories

    That list was heartbreaking. Yup, felt some of it, though not as severe. It frees me from feeling sorry for myself as
    an aged guy in the "poor category" adult because the kids feel the sting of it 10 times over. I do keep it a secret
    I'm on food stamps from friends who don't know how far I fell. I also try not to look at the posts that attach a great
    shame and failure stigma to it, they'll never know how an ailment of your body can make you drop like a stone, financially.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Questions401

      Yes! thank you for saying that. People take good health for granted.

      September 20, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. liberalcat

    this is not a good photo for this story. i only see fat and lazy.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jean

    This article brought back memories. One of the most humiliating experiences of my childhood occurred in elementary school. This was 1960's Iowa, prior to the federal school lunch program. My father had been laid off from work and a local agency provided sack lunches for the children that needed them, for which I'm grateful. However, the children that received the free sack lunches were not allowed to sit at the tables, but were made to sit on the floor, against the wall, and next to the lunchroom door. For me, it was the wall of shame.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Duckens

    Poor is "not middle class."

    Middle class once meant needing only one income to::
    Own a home.
    Have health insurance.
    Send one's children to college.

    iphones and tvs and cars (20yo, duct tape to hold one door one, a window that doesn't roll up) are a distraction. Either you have access to the three things listed as Middle Class, or you are below Middle Class:


    Most families I know have two incomes, and they still can't attain ALL three things listed above. These are people who did all the right things: no or low college debt, no credit card debt, no crazy trips to Disneyland or Hawaii, no expensive weddings or divorces. They work hard, don't smoke or use drugs (other than an occasional bottle of wine for Thanksgiving), don't buy lottery tickets or gamble, and buy secondhand clothes, cars, and appliances.

    Those in charge are doing a good job of dividing us.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      well said

      September 20, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. cajolumael

    Being poor is watching your kids play outside with the neighborhood kids because the houses are small and without much electronics.
    Being poor is being out chatting with your neighbors because everyone is trying to cut down on AC or does not have an AC.
    Being poor is learning who your friends really are. Specially if you were not poor before.
    Being poor is about finding your real value because the only thing you have left is you.
    Being poor is re-learning to enjoy the really simple things in life. A fresh autum day after a summer without AC.
    Was pretty wealthy, am pretty poor. I am sure in time I will come out of poverty but I will forever be grateful for many of the things I have learnt while poor.
    And while, by western standards, I am poor. By third world standars I am pretty rich. Go figure.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      Thank you for putting a positive spin on this. Its easy to think of all the negative things as I grew up a child in poverty. But you are SO right. It also afforded me life experiences that have shaped me into the person and mother I am today. Thanks!

      September 20, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Puckles

    I love how almost all of these "poor" people in the photo are OVERWEIGHT! What a JOKE. Send them to Africa for a day. Then they will know what poverty really is. I guess that is why everyone wants to live in the U.S. because even the "poor" people here are fat!

    September 20, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • William1956

      Some of the Russians were giving 50 million a year in aid to are fat. 🙂

      September 20, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • debi jackson

      That's because the cheapest food is the most fattening; high-carbs- – bread, potatoes, pasta. You have never been poor, or you would realize this.

      September 20, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
      • Just_realistic

        Beans are some of the highest sources of protein and are among the cheapest meal to make. The lazy and ignorant feast excessively on high carb, low nutrition items because they taste good and are easy to fix.

        September 20, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
      • Karen

        I agree with you debi jackson. Thats why most of the overweight people is the food they can afford. Everyone should zip it and remember that people have feeling...they don't want to be that way. I have a tyroid problem and my company took our insurance away from us and now I can't afford to go to the doctor or afford the medicine.

        September 20, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • domynoe

      Healthy food, fresh food, is too damn expensive for those in poverty. They have to live off of cheap -prepackaged foods that have nothing but calories, usually can't get fresh fruit and veggies, and are lucky to be able to buy more than chicken, hamburger, and canned tuna.

      More than that, weight is more then food: it's heredity, stress (and poverty inflicts a lot of that), have the time and energy to exercise (which you usually don't have when poor), and other factors. Obesity doesn't mean someone is eating more food. Obesity doesn't mean someone is eating HEALTHY food. Obesity means a bad/poor diet combined with heredity, lack of exercise, and a whole lot of other factors, many of which are out of our control.

      Educate yourself and get rid of the stereotypes.

      September 20, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
      • pete

        Actually if you eat too much healthy food you can still be obese. Calorie intake is a big component in addition to eating healty food.

        Beans, apples, corn, fresh spinach,whole wheat bread is not that expensive

        September 20, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
      • XD

        @Pete. Spinach, apples, and other fresh, healthy foods are very expensive in comparison to foods like ramen, cheap pasta, and twinkies. You also get more calories with the processed cheap foods–which is what some people are trying to maximize with little regard to other nutrients.

        September 20, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
      • melrob

        Also, with being poor or not knowing where you next meal is coming from your body does a little strange thing, It goes into survivor mode. What that means is that any food eaten will be turned into fat for later use by the body when food is not available. Hence that is why a lot of poor people or people who do not eat regular meals have a tendency to be obese.

        September 20, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ellen

      Many poor people are fat because they have no car & no nearby markets that sell fresh, healthy food.

      September 21, 2012 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  14. William1956

    Its a shame that billion airs don't pay tax's, but they expect everyone else to.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • CheckYourFacts

      Billionaires don't pay taxes? The top 1% of tax payers pay over 40% of all income taxes; the bottom 95% of taxpayers pay less (in total) than 40% of income taxes.

      September 20, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
      • Larry L

        When the poor pay taxes they give up food, shelter, medicine, clothing and security. When billionaires pay taxes they simply give up the right to own fewer outrageously expensive luxury items. It's the reason a progressive tax system makes societies work and a regressive system results in revolution.

        September 20, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
      • msuwebmanager

        You're talking about INCOME tax, which is the only tax the GOP thinks worth talking about. We poor pay every other tax – sales tax, gas tax, property tax, school tax, library tax, city tax, water tax, sanitation tax, et al. And all these are at the exact same rate as a billionaire pays. But when you consider the percentage of available dollars, the poor pay a massively higher percentage than the rich. It's hard to pull yourself up by the bootstraps when you can't afford boots.

        September 20, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mahdeealoo

    Being poor for me was:
    Wearing hand me downs. Always too big or too small.
    Wearing shoes so small that my toes curled under. Painful to walk to and from school.
    Having one can of Spam between 4 people for dinner.
    Going to my great aunts house and hoping she would send home an old butchered hen or rooster.
    Having one winter coat and having to wear it until the sleeves came up to my elbows.
    Walking everywhere. No taxi, no bus.
    Waking up to thick ice on the bedroom windows because the heater was 3 rooms away.
    Being teased for being the 2nd poorest family in my school.
    Loving the summer garden which gave us fresh vegetables and not canned peas.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Flamingo Kid

      You weren't "poor." You just weren't privileged. There are FAR worse cases in the world than yours. You should be thankful for the abundance you did have and stop whining.

      September 20, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
      • Questions401

        The definition of poor in the dictionary is lacking sufficient money to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society… mahdeealoo's experience seems to describe that, so you saying he was not poor is sort of erroneous.

        September 20, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
      • Equestrian Citizen

        I should say something what Flamingo Kid said sounds like MIttens Romney

        September 21, 2012 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
    • LizardKing

      Not poor but thrifty. I bet you are a far better person having know the bottom,right.

      September 21, 2012 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
  16. Puckles

    I love how almost all of these "poor" people in the photo are OVERWEIGHT! What a JOKE. Send them to Africa for a day. Then they will know what poverty really is.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • GOGO

      Poverty and Starvation are different right? Which degree of poverty is acceptable?

      September 20, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Kay

    Some of you repeat everything that Obama says without question. No one is wanting to give rich people a tax cut. What Republicans believe is that NO Americans should have their taxes RAISED. Extending the present tax rate is exactly was it says. It's extending what is already happening. We give the Government enough money. If we raise the taxes on anyone, do you really think the Government won't waste it? Of course they will. If we stand strong and so NO raise in taxes on anyone it will force the Goverment to live within means, like we have to.

    The Liberal Media, Obama and his campaign gang want us to turn on each other based on financial class. I would think we are smarter than that, but by some of the comments I read, I'm not sure. A country divided is a country easily conquered. We become so consumed in our greed and envy, that we take our eye off the real enemies.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Questions401

      umm actually you should read their tax plans before speaking about it

      September 20, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kay

        I was commenting on people saying Romney wants to give rich people at tax cut. That is not true. They want to keep the existing tax rate. There is a difference.

        September 20, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
      • Questions401

        please, just read their plan... please

        September 20, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kay

        I read the tax plan off Romney's site. If you read it off a Media site it's different, of course. I don't see anything that I object to. What is it you don't like?

        September 20, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jules

      Um, Romney is the one that said he doesn't care about 1/2 of the population of this country including elderly people. He also considers people that work full time at minimum wage to be lazy and just looking for a handout. I want a president that wants to lead the entire country. Not just the people that "count".

      September 20, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Danno

    Clearly these victims just aren't taking responsibility for their lives. ;\

    September 20, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Working Poor

    Back in the day: Yes we had a car & a TV – but no cable. The kids didn't really know we were poor. We were frugal. Hand-Me-Downs and thrift shops were the norm and nothing to be ashamed of! We always managed to keep a roof over our heads. We didn't have beef on the table much but thanks to generous friends and neighbors we had our fill of free range organic venison that I learned to butcher myself. Even now: Keeping up is almost impossible, never mind getting ahead – and that is with no lack of trying! It's tough out there and yes – eating healthy is more expensive than eating cheap!

    September 20, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Beam48

    That brought back some sad memories for sure for me. At the same time though many (not all) of the poor live better here then those in other countries. I don't have to walk 20 miles and for a jug of dirty water that might kill my children...:/ Still we DO have people dying in this country for lack of medical care..and we do have kids going hungry that shouldn't be...at least so far no child has starved to death here that wasn't at the hands of their care givers.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  21. ImWEBSPY

    I think the GOP is doing a social experiment, Accidently go to war on bad advice and kill and injure100 thousand needlessly. Take our money, jobs, homes, cars, give them to the banks and their friends on the way out of town.

    Then when were really good and poor get us to vote for a millionaire Mormon who calls us all a bunch of losers to win!

    Sounds about right!

    September 20, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  22. ROE

    Give it a rest

    September 20, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Brian

    As American citizens, our collective heart should ache for the growing number of poor and hungry in our land—especially the increasing number of children who fall into this segment. As a wealthy country, it is shameful to watch as little or no action is taken to alleviate the situation. Stop the blame. Do not condemn or pass judgement on some of our countrymen who are less-fortunate. Let's not grow weary in doing good. Have some compassion and help those in need.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Questions401

      you are a good person

      September 20, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
      • Working Poor

        I concur. Be nice! To the rest: how blessed you have been to never know hardship, worry or despair! On one hand I pray you never know it – on the other I hope you know it with vengence – if only for a minute to give you humility and care for humankind.

        September 20, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • bravotron

      Are you really helping them? Our will of survival and ambition is being sapped out of our very being. I don't disagree that there are those who need these programs but the trend in the past 10 years is a growing number of people who DON'T need these programs and steal the integrity of those who do need it. I guess my point is tighter regulation or even a way to disburse actual food products instead of just giving out money that people go buy lobster and soda with

      September 20, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
      • welltemperedwriter

        "the trend in the past 10 years is a growing number of people who DON'T need these programs and steal the integrity of those who do need it"

        Prove it.

        September 20, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
      • bravotron

        Ya CNN removed my proof...go figure

        September 21, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  24. William1956

    People don’t seem to realize what its really like to be poor in this country. When your a kid you wear hand me down clothes and sometimes they were your sisters. You move from place to place because your parents have to move to where the jobs are. You make friends in school only to have to tell them good by when you move. One of your parents dies because he drank himself to death so you move into a much smaller place because you cant afford the place you were living in. And you keep moving. You get old enough to move out on your own and this means living in your car or living in a tent. Finally your able to get a place to rent only to worry that you will be able to pay rent the next month. The land lord does not fix anything that’s broke. You have to put up with the neighbors playing loud music till late at night. Next thing you know you get evicted and you have to pack your things and find another place to rent within 15 days. And you go hungry for half the month just so you can pay the bills.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • William1956

      Oh I forgot one thing I caught 3 mice 2 with one sticky trap.

      September 20, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  25. ROE

    I must be stupid or something because I am just not getting this guy.
    First off, a "car????" his poor means having a "car" to pick up other peoples trash? OK. Sorry we just did not have that.
    The roach while packing lunches...first off they apparently had bread and something else to make a sandwhich yet the free lunches at school embarrassed him?
    A "TV???"...asking for things that are on TV? I do not remember having a TV.
    Raman noodles that were 2 cents more???? Oh for the love of god...if a child (or adult) notices a 2 cent difference in Raman noodles....please.
    Living next to the freeway??? Was he living "NEXT" to the freeway or "UNDER" it? I am sure he said "NEXT" to it.
    So sad.
    A heater in one room of the house? A "house???" AND a "heater???!"
    Underware??? He had underware???
    Stop this nonsense, he needs to spend one week with "THE POOR" and stop feeling sorry for himself.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just Sayin'

      I so agree !!!

      September 20, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Questions401

      You know being poor simply means lacking sufficient money to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society, right? Just because there are people even more poor then this person does not mean this person should be written off they way you just did...

      September 20, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
      • Just Sayin'

        So poor to you means only being able to afford one Big Mac, instead 2 Big Macs and fries like the people in the picture apparently have every day.

        September 20, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
      • Questions401

        no i simply listed the dictionary definition of poor

        September 20, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • William1956

      Some of the rich need to spend one week with the poor.

      September 20, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
      • William1956

        Hey Mitt Romney i got a room ill rent you for a week.

        September 20, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
      • domynoe

        I've long thought that it should be a requirement to live in poverty conditions, dealing with the government "handouts" without access to any other wealth for at least a year before running for any kind of office. To represent all the people living in your area, you need to understand what they experience, and most elected official haven't a clue.

        September 20, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      I was thinking the same thing. I remember our car being repossed, no TV, ketchup sandwiches and bot my parents working at min wage, my Dad 2 jobs just to keep up. A car, TV, cell phone are not rights, if you can afford those things you shouldn't be getting free lunches.

      September 20, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Just Sayin'


    "Being poor is getting angry at your kids for asking for all the crap they see on TV".

    Poor kids get to see TV????

    I suspect ther are a few million people around the globe who'd love to be "poor" like this.

    September 20, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Questions401

      you know poor people can have friends that are less poor right?

      September 20, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
      • Just Sayin'

        Less poor...or more priviledged???

        September 20, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      I think you are being very inappropriate. Yes, we get what you are saying and yes we understand there is poor and homeless and always someone out there that is worse off BUT coming from someone who grew up "less fortunate" than a lot of other people in my neighborhood, BOTTOM LINE: kids know the difference and it hurts. Yea, we had a tv that my father felt kind enough to buy for us since he wasn't paying child support but many of days my mother was at VEAP, which was the community food shelf trying to get us food. We had our lights, gas, and water cut off numerous times. No phone, to free up that bill, after my mother felt that we were old enough to get somewhere if there was an emergency. I wore hand me downs because I was the youngest and my uncles kept us with a car because we lived in a cold state and they refused to let my mom take us around on the bus. SO, yes we did have "things" but just like the other person stated there are people worse off but there is a certain standard of living that we did not have and many other households that probably felt the same way. It hurts and is embarrassing when you are child because you don't know why or what the difference is. Yes, we now know because we are adults but there is a different perception when you are a child so he is writing from his experience.

      September 20, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  27. brat

    46.2 every day there are more people added to that list and it sucks because they work for crooks who think there mercedies payments for that month are more important. there are people out there who couldnt care less about any thing but them selves it horrible here in this state of indiana! onlgy two classes here poor and rich!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 20, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  28. timmothy green

    ..... people are fat?!?!?!?!!!!!!!!!!! (not surprising at all)

    September 20, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  29. PG

    The reason that poor people are often fat is that most unhealthy food is cheaper. Compare the Chinese buffet where you can get in line and heap your plate with fried goodies three times for 10.95 to the elegant bistro that serves 5 ounces of prime protein on an abstract design composed of three sauces and garnished with four pencil thin asparagus spears for forty bucks. Speaking as a serial dieter, shopping for real food is always way more expensive than the processed crap like instant mac & cheese or ramen noodles. Also, good nutrition requires time and education as well as money. If you barely made it out of high school and you're working two or three part-time jobs to get by, you aren't going to have a lot of time to devote to exercise or label reading.

    Oh, that's right, real poor people aren't allowed to eat out. They're not poor unless they're living in a shanty town out at the landfill and their children are dying of starvation and disease. Is this what you people really want for this country? You're not poor unless you're 100 times poorer than the wealthiest people in the country? Wow. Just wow.

    September 20, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • ES

      Even if they eat unhealthy , if they eat less they won't be fat. It is a fact. I grew up on potatoes, milk and bread. I enver could put enough of that stuff down, not that tasty. And I am not overweight. They must be eating something besides the boring basics to be that fat.

      September 20, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Questions401

    wow all these people spouting off hate for the poor, you know what? I work 70 hours a week doing jobs no other American will do, washing dishes waiting tables and flipping burgers! I was born here, and I've worked three jobs just to run out of money before graduating collage because tuition has gone to crazy levels... I tell you as a poor person there is no longer any way for the poor to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and quite frankly blaming programs that help the poor for this problem is stupid! The blame is rightfully placed on sending manufacturing jobs over seas to Chinese slaves... Right the barbwire around that Chinese factory isn't to keep those workers in at all, no it just couldn't be...

    September 20, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  31. William1956

    What concerns me is the Republican and Democrat presidential candidates are well educated about foreign affairs but they know nothing about domestic affairs.

    September 20, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Terry

    Glenda, I am barely making it. I am a Christian. God bless L and others like him and how DARE you make the suggestion that they don't help others out. Just because they don't give everything they have to those who don't does not make them bad, nor does it mean they are going to Hell. That isn't how you get there anyway. Your comment should be very offensive to all Christians reading this, and a joke to all athiests. Good job.

    September 20, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  33. stylistkathi

    unfortunately the cheapest foods are the most fattening. We see it every day at the food pantry where I volunteer. Mac and cheese. can of spaghetti sauce and spaghetti, beans and weiners. bread it is cheap and hopefully will fill the kids bellies before the go to sleep at night.

    September 20, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just Sayin'

      Don't agree...the laziest foods are the most fattening. When I was tight for money I always found that fresh vegetables were the smallest cost in comparison to any "fast" foods like canned or frozen foods. If you're willing to put the time into food preparation, costs for quality food is pretty low. And seriously...how long does it take to boil a few fresh vegetables?

      September 20, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
      • A poor person

        Finally, someone saying some sense. If people would just take time to cook and not stuff themselves and their children with fast food, it would cost less and be way healthier. "Healthy foods are expensive" is a myth perpetrated by lazy people. Sure, feeding the family at McD will cost less than taking them all to a ritzy restaurant. But going to a grocery store and buying some meats and veggies would cost about the same as fast food or even less. I guarantee it as a poor person who eats healthy.
        Also, people need to learn how to budget and stop letting the consumerist society to tell them they are poor just because they don't throw away their iPhone4 as soon as 5 came out.

        September 20, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
      • prairieghost

        It's wonderful that you were able to eat a healthy diet even with your situation was less than ideal. You are very fortunate in that regard. However, your lack of perspective is disheartening. When you were dealing with financial problems, were you also caring for a family? Did you have kids to take to school, elderly parents to care for, 16 hour workdays? Cooking meals from scratch IS a time-consuming process, especially if you are cooking for a whole family and not just yourself, and knowing WHAT to buy is not as simple as you seem to think. If you didn't grow up in a family that regularly prepared healthy meals from scratch, you probably don't know how to do it, either. Expecting people to magically know how to do something that has not been a norm in our society for over fifty years is like expecting a modern-day high schooler to know how to operate a rotary telephone.

        I worked as a cashier for several years, and I agree that we as a culture have become too dependent on convenience, but calling someone lazy just because they don't have the time, energy, or know-how to make their own steamed asparagus is just plain arrogant. Count your blessings that you were prepared to endure a bad situation, and stop being so judgmental of people who don't fit your ideals.

        September 20, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
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