Feeding the Recession's Youngest Victims

Last year, Seth Doane reported on the youngest victims of the recession: hungry children. One year later, he has revisited a couple of the families.

A 2009 exhibit of raw, revealing photographs of hungry kids were supposed to shock and stir action. The "Witnesses to Hunger" show was Mariana Chilton's idea. She gave cameras to 40 lower-income Philadelphia women. The idea was to spark dialogue after seeing the pictures of hungry kids.

One year later, CBS News correspondent Seth Doane reports there's been a change -- for the worse. In 2007, 12.4 million children in the United States were hungry. Now, that number has grown to nearly 17 million kids. These new numbers reflect the recession's impact on America's children.

Marinette Roman had a photo in the exhibit. She also had five hungry kids in a shelter. Last year, her son Lewis often went to sleep with an empty stomach.

But after almost a year in the shelter, they moved into temporary, transitional housing last October with help from a local nonprofit.

Lewis was happy, and settled into his own room. Marinette's "always in the kitchen." She missed having one.

But she still doesn't have a job, because she can't afford childcare. Marinette scrapes by with government assistance. Still, life is better, says Lewis' younger brother Eric.

"I could just lay down, go to sleep without being hungry," Eric said.

There is still plenty to worry about. This October, their time in the transitional housing will run out.

Imani Sullivan also had a picture in the "Witness to Hunger" exhibit. Last year, her nine-year-old son DeMire described what it was like when he didn't eat.

"I cry," he said, "because I'm hungry."

She searches for work everyday, cleaning houses when she can. But she fell behind on rent, and lost the home she was in last year.

"My whole life just turned around in one year's time," she said. "Much worse."

Now, she makes her bed each night on the floor of her mother's house. The kids sleep on the couch.

"Sometimes I can't even look my kids in the face," she said. "When I'm feeding 'em and I know that they going to ask me for more - what am I supposed to tell them?

"My biggest, gravest concern is that after the recession the middle class will start to grow and the poor that's always been there - will not be able to pull out of a recession with the rest of the crowd," Chilton said.

For those already down, it'll be a much more difficult climb.

Learn More about Fighting Hunger
Witnesses to Hunger
Strength.Org
Feeding Hunger
  • Seth Doane

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