A few months ago my boss asked me to start traveling around the country to look at the "Other America," an America that we weren't always paying attention to. The series was born and now that four pieces have aired on the Evening News, I think it's starting to develop its own feel.
I see "Other America" as a look at hard-working Americans that are struggling to get by. As the economy gets tough for so many of us – with higher prices to pay at the pump and grocery store – our paychecks (for those of us lucky enough to have work) seem to be shrinking. What is so frightening is that there are so many stories out there to cover in this series.
For this week's "Other America," we headed to Dover, Tenn. My producer, Linda Karas, a long-time CBS-er, and Emily Rand (who's also been helping with these stories), heard that America's Second Harvest would be setting up a mobile pantry in this rural town in the middle of Tennessee.
We arrived to find a setting that looked like it could have been a church picnic. Tables were being set up in front of a church on a picture-perfect day – the sun was shining and the sky was blue. But this wasn't a celebration; it was the early preparation for hundreds of folks who'd be coming to this place to get food because they simply couldn't afford to go to the grocery store to buy it themselves.
Hundreds of families showed up to this mobile pantry. The organizer told us that she'd had a harder time getting the word out about this months' mobile pantry because so many people's phones had been disconnected. She hypothesized that it was because people were having their phone service disconnected as they're paying, instead, for gas and food.
A young mother cried in line as she told me how tough times have gotten. Another woman told me that it's humbling just to stand in this line. These stories make me count my blessings… and want to tell more of them. It's important to know that so many of our fellow Americans are struggling to make it through each day.