A college student in Fresno who struggles with hunger has applied for food stamps three times. Another student, who is homeless in Sacramento, has applied twice. Each time, they were denied.
A 61-year-old in-home caretaker in Oakland was cut off from food stamps last year when her paperwork got lost. Out of work, she can’t afford groceries.
…”On a human level, what that means is that we continue to allow Californians to go without food,” said Jessica Bartholow, a policy advocate at the Western Center on Law and Poverty.
One of the first lessons Jalyn Wharton learned her freshman year at Kennesaw State University was how to stretch a pizza so it would feed her for a week. It wasn’t the only time she’d had to ration food. When she was in high school, her family became homeless and Wharton would sometimes eat less to make sure her younger siblings got enough. Even as her family bounced between hotels and friends’ houses, Wharton stayed focused on school. Everyone told her education was her path out of poverty. She finished high school with honors and was thrilled to get into Kennesaw State, a research institution with 35,000 students near Atlanta, Georgia.
…“We have been doing a better job of making sure low-income children feel like college is a place for them,” said Jessica Bartholow, of the Western Poverty Law Center in California. “Maybe so much so that it’s a real shock when they get here and find out that it isn’t.”
In this op-ed, Western Center’s Director of Communications, Courtney McKinney, explores what it’s like to lobby to reduce hunger, improve access to affordable housing, and strengthen workers’ rights.