I’ve been hustlin
From dusk till dawn
I’ve been hustlin
For so long

I’m the hungry hustla afroman i recycle cardboard, beer bottles, and cans
Food stamps, bus token plus G.R. checks, underground rap tapes tryin to
Get on deck

— Afroman — “I’ve Been Hustlin”

From SFGate.com:

Nearly half of all U.S. children and 90 percent of black youngsters will be on food stamps at some point during childhood, and fallout from the current recession could push those numbers even higher, researchers say.

The estimate comes from an analysis of 30 years of national data, and it bolsters other recent evidence on the pervasiveness of youngsters at economic risk. It suggests that almost everyone knows a family who has received food stamps, or will in the future, said lead author Mark Rank, a sociologist at Washington University in St. Louis.

“Your neighbor may be using some of these programs but it’s not the kind of thing people want to talk about,” Rank said.

This is a real template of suffering. AND, yo: These numbers have got to be higher now that we’re in Depression 2.0. I think there are 2 types of food stamp users: those in the disadvantaged & chronic user category who speak of it openly in their neighborhood — and those in the middle class who experience a periodic financial struggle for which food stamps are quietly used. I remember being in the supermarket checkout line in my old Adams-Morgan hood in DC and watching a woman with a couple of kids sneak out some food stamps as discreetly as she could — she seemed most concerned about the kids not seeing. Actually, I’ve seen this more than once, come to think of it.

Even here in my more affluent neighborhood in suburban San Francisco, the local health food store recently put up a sign saying that they can no longer accept food stamps. Things are tough out there. And they’ve been tough for American kids for a long time.

We never needed food stamps when I was a kid (to my knowledge) but when my dad first had his stroke and was unable to work after, it was tight on a single teacher’s salary. If it hadn’t been for family helping in the early days, we might have needed food stamps too, possibly.

What this says to me is that food stamps are critical as a social safety net. Without them, a lot of kids would be hungrier than they already are. I’m calling on the Obama Administration to respond to this and tell us how they are going to expand the social safety net to help families in crisis. As opposed to the current safety net focused on giant corporations in the form of banks…

The shame is not that families need help. The crying shame here is that there’s not enough help available, especially when it’s needed now more than ever.

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