Hunger at Home: Hiding the Pain and Learning Shame

REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK
By STEVE OSUNSAMI (@SteveOsunsami)
Aug. 23, 2011

“Here’s what only my closest friends know about me:

I was a Head Start kid. A food stamp kid. A public housing kid. A Section-8 kid. A government cheese kid. And at many times, a kid who was food insecure.

We never had much, but things went from bad to worse when my dad was laid off. It was 1983 and I was in the sixth grade. He never truly recovered from it. He never again held down a full-time job. And life at home was never the same.

My mother worked in a cafeteria at a hospital in town. God rest her soul. She struggled to feed our family of seven and somehow pay the bills. When she could pay them, the bills came first.

My two older sisters and I turned it into a game. We’d open the empty kitchen cabinets, and come up with magical dishes with the few scraps of canned and dried food we’d find hidden in the corners.”

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