For Some Ohioans, Even Meat Is Out Of Reach

A generation ago, the livelihood of Gloria Nunez's family was built on cars.

Her father worked at General Motors for 45 years before retiring. Her mother taught driver's education. Nunez and her six siblings grew up middle class.

Things have changed considerably for this Ohio family.

Nunez's van broke down last fall. Now, her 19-year-old daughter has no reliable transportation out of their subsidized housing complex in Fostoria, 40 miles south of Toledo, to look for a job.

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Umm, not to be an insensitive jerk, but it doesn't look to me like they've missed a meal.

Only in America is obesity a major problem faced by the poor.

Gloria Nunez's parents had 6 kids, both parents worked to support their 6 kids, even well into adulthood it seems at least for Gloria Nunez & her daughter. Gloria is unable to work since an accident 17 yrs ago that left her depressed & disabled.... curious what the disabiltiy is, or if it's one of those that comes in handy to get welfare. I have to agree that it appears the only 'disabiltiy' is being obese. Is she collecting disability? Sounds like she does not - but rather, she collects welfare & food stamps - which makes me question the severity of the disabitlity. Not to judge without knowing her, but I've seen many women live their lives this way, raising generations of kids who repeat history, do the same - like it is a presumption that the state will take care of them. I've seen many disabled people hold jobs for a long time - a couple I see are baggers at Kroger's, one is about 35 and has worked there for over 17 years - somewhat retarded (is that a politically incorrect word to use now?). Gloria says she's never had a job & has not gotten a GED - what's prevented her from getting her GED all these years? My guess is she's never really tried much to get a job, because it's so much easier to get welfare (you dont even have to leave the house everyday). If I am wrong & judged harshly, I apologise, but it doesn't look like their starving to death.

I do recognise that it's hard to find or keep work without transportation - are there no buses in that area? I give to beggers & the homeless now & then, and I've been told to not do it, that they need to get a job. But I know that if you do not have a permanent address or phone number, a place to shower & a clean change of clothes & a bed to sleep at night, it's not likely you'll find a job. In Gloria Nunez's situation, lack of transportation may well factor into it. Maybe they could find a job close enough to walk to & walk off some of that weight. Or, offer to babysit all the welfare kids in that housing development for pay - babysit all those kids that were sprouted to get more welfare money - free up time so their mom's can go look for jobs.

Oh starling...there are so many things we could question about this situation.

Nunez is 40. The car accident that left her "disabled" happened 17 years ago. Which means that she was approximately 23 years old at the time of the accident.

She has *never* had a job. *Never* received a high school diploma or her GED.

I'd be so curious to hear what she was doing up until the time of the accident at age 23...why didn't she have a job prior to that? Why didn't she pursue education prior to that?

I don't know about you, but she doesn't sound like a very motivated person to me...

Things that make you go hmmn....

... is a lot better than dying. More and more people will have to arrive at this truth.

And Starling, you're ONLY supporting the drug trade around here by "giv[ing] to beggers & the homeless now & then". What you give them is almost 100% funneled into drugs and alcohol. Stop it. Please.

The comment I made in response to this article on another Ohio blog that shared the picture of the two women and the NPR story this morning:

This actually proves part of the problem, it’s the choices made and if they are now relying on starches, which they are conditioned to believe is cheaper, it adds to the obesity issue that many are experiencing. Especially in lower income families.

It’s like when electeds did that whole “foodstamp challenge” rather than to take it as an opportunity to demonstrate how it could be possible to feed a family within that dollar amount and not rely on mac and cheese or peanut butter, those who took part fell into the same mindset.

You can feed a family of four for the $250.00 they are currently spending and feed your family meat and have it be healthy. It does take some work and some planning though and more importantly than that, it takes some type of information/education process being in place to help those that have lived that way for quite some time.

It also calls into question the practice of placing subsidized housing units where there is no public transportation. If we truly want people to succeed they have to be in an area where if there are not jobs within walking distance there is at least a public transportation system.

If anyone was actually interested in solutions, the first one would be to only allow subsidized housing units where access to public transportation existed, and as a part of the foodstamp system as a requirement to get food stamps have one or more mandatory classes taught by a dietitian so that people learned first hand how to stretch food dollars yet eat healthier. You can’t control what they buy but you can at least do a better job in giving them some tools to make better choices.

We don't remember days only moments...

Well said, LisaRenee.

And if you're relying too much on prepackaged foods, of course your grocery bill is going to be higher. Those are more expensive!

If you buy the raw ingredients and actually cook a real meal, its so much cheaper than subsisting on prepackaged, starchy crap. So sad that many people have never been taught that. Your idea of the training by a dietician is an interesting one. Even though it would cost money to provide that service, it may very well decrease Medicaid expenditures on the back end. If that's the case, it would be worth minimal front end expense.

(Of course, if these people's parents and their parents had bothered teaching those lessons generations ago and passed them down...)

Thanks Sarah, that's exactly where it might head, decreased health care costs as well since those who are receiving assistance also get health care as well.

It could also translate into healthier people who are more able to find employment. Like it or not the reality is very few employers would hire someone that over weight.

We don't remember days only moments...

Angelica Hernandez, survive on a $637 Social Security check and $102 in food stamps. ... She said she pays $100 a month for her housing - plus utilities maybe (no phone she said) unless utilities are included. So that suggests that this woman & her daughter may be using more than the $102 in food stamps to eat.
Ok, I'll be the one to say what most are probably thinking - how the hell did they get so fat with only $102 a month in food stamps? (probably using her ss check money to buy chips).

People tell Nunez her daughter could get more money in public assistance if she had a child. "A lot of people have told me, 'Why don't your daughter have a kid?'"

They both reject that as a plan. ------I'll give them a point for having the sense to reject having a baby to get more money from the govt. However, that is a huge problem - I've seen it here in Toledo - generations living on welfare, an expected way of life, making more babies to get bigger checks. So sad.

sarah - I know. And yet, I do. I only give a buck or two to a begger or two once or twice a month (maybe a cig or two thrown in as well). I guess it's my way of helping my karma in my own twisted way of thinking - I'm more fortunate than they are & don't know what bad breaks they've had in this life, it makes me appreciate how very lucky I am (even when I dont feel so lucky). And I know they'll probably spend it on beer or drugs - but I rationalize & do it (usually the beggers are old men, who look like they've lived their life on the street). I guess I figure, if I can make that one day a tiny bit easier for them - whatever they choose to make it easier ,,,,,,,, I know, but I do it.
It just feels too heartless to drive by & not help if I can.

About the chips...don't know about those, but they did say that now they have stopped buying ice cream. (One wonders how much of that limited grocery budget was going to ice cream and things of that nature before...)

I guess I became a little jaded after spending several years volunteering for an organization that provided "after hours" emergency services (such as food, diapers, personal hygiene supplies, formula, etc.) to folks, until they could get referred to social services organizations. (This was in another city - we provided those services from 6-midnight on weeknights, and all day on the weekends. Times when an individual wouldn't be able to reach their caseworkers.) The premise seemed good, but you got sick of seeing the same "frequent fliers" having "emergencies" after while. (When the same person claims to have "lost" their WIC coupons multiple times in one month, then they obviously have a responsibility problem!) Instead of using the helping hands to get on their feet during a temporary situation, which was what all those services were intended to do, most of my clients basically were just making a lifestyle out of taking from the gov't and charities.

(Note - I have absolutely nothing against someone who receives public assistance as a temporary measure. People do fall on hard times, especially these days. My criticisms are only directed at the people who exploit the system.)

Anyhow, I could think of several things that might help make the Nunez's situation better...

1) Portion control: I'm going to go out on a limb and say that they are eating far more than what a portion size should be. (Most Americans do, actually...after all, one serving of meat is supposed to be about the size of a deck of cards! 4-6 oz.) I'd bet if they were eating appropriate portion sizes for each meal, they'd find that their grocery budget stretches a lot farther.

2) Grow vegetables: Now, they may not have the space to grow a whole garden. (Though it sounds like if room could be made for a community garden in their complex, it could help a lot of families.) But almost anyone would have room for at least some potted tomato plants, etc. That would help provide at least some additional food.

3) If the daughter can't find a job within walking distance of her home, maybe she needs to relocate. (Sounds like the aunts, uncles, and grandma all live in the same complex, so there would still be someone around to look out for mom.) She doesn't have to stay in Fostoria...look at all the generations of immigrants who have worked hard at jobs, sharing apartments (splitting rent and utilities), and sending money home to the family. What's stopping the daughter from doing something like that, other than a lack of gumption?

By the way...I do agree with LisaRenee's point that subsidized housing should be located near public transportation routes (or at least in an area where there's a lot of stuff within walking distance). Otherwise, you're just isolating a whole group of people who can't afford cars or gas.

Speaking of the portion control...pretty much every grocery store chain has those frozen bags of flash frozen chicken on sale "buy one, get one free" on a regular basis. If these women took advantage of that (they obviously have a freezer for the ice cream!) and ate a normal (deck of cards size) portion of meat, they should be able to have meat for at least a couple of meals a week. And they could learn how to cook with beans and legumes for the other meals. (Dried bulk beans and legumes are relatively cheap and can be stored for a long time!)

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