“Poverty is a circumstance, not a value judgment”

What does it mean to be a food stamp recipient? The political landscape has been split in discussions ranging from program abuse to the perpetuation of poverty. It is a hotly debated topic (for more debate insight, check out this blog; however, when you consider who receives this public benefit assistance, what type of person comes to mind? Would you think of a college-educated, former television producer who grew up in the affluent suburbs?

“This wasn’t supposed to happen to people like me.”

As Loaves & Fishes works to provide assistance to what is known as one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, many skeptics question the clients we serve and their “need.” It is common that we will see an expensive car pull into our parking lot or see a client pull the latest iPhone out of their purse to answer a call. In Darlena Cunha’s experience, these material things don’t paint the full picture.

“That’s the funny thing about being poor. Everyone has an opinion on it, and everyone feels entitled to share. That was especially true about my husband’s Mercedes. Over and over again, people asked why we kept that car, offering to sell it in their yards or on the Internet for us.

“And even if we had wanted to do that, here’s what people don’t understand: The reality of poverty can spring quickly while the psychological effects take longer to surface. When you lose a job, your first thought isn’t, “Oh my God, I’m poor. I’d better sell all my nice stuff!” It’s “I need another job. Now.” When you’re scrambling, you hang on to the things that work, that bring you some comfort. That Mercedes was the one reliable, trustworthy thing in our lives.”

Darlena’s story provides incredible insight about the perceptions of poverty from the inside and outside. Click here to read the full blog article.