From Middle-Class to Food Pantry: Single Dad Sells Possessions to Feed His Family


People like Orange, who once had jobs and were doing well before but aren't now. When his family almost ran out of food in June, Orange swallowed his pride and went to a food pantry for the first time.

"It was really hard," he said. "I never had to do it. I've been very independent since I was 16 ... [but] I wasn't able to keep up to standards of everybody else."

Orange also had to explain to his two kids when they asked for something that he was out of work and times were tough.

"[I told] them that 'Dad doesn't have any money right now. When Dad gets back to work and is able to get money, I'll buy it,'" he said. "Believe it or not, my kids are 6 and 4, and they understand."

Recently, things have gotten especially bad because Orange hasn't been able to pay his utility bills -- the electricity could be cut off any day now, as well as his water. He said he got rid of all of his credit cards and his bank account and wallet are dry.

"I've got some change in the kid's piggybank," Orange said. "That's it. I've actually taken birthday money and whatever money that they had from relatives and bought stuff they needed, food and stuff, and now all that's left is just pennies."

To pay the bills, Orange has been selling his possessions -- most of his living room furniture is on Craig's List. He also got a quote from a nearby electronics store on what he could get for his flat-screen TV.

"I've got a price on that and what they want to give me for it is a little bit of nothing," he said. "But if it comes down to putting food on the table, that's what I got to do."

The food bank has been helpful to Orange and his family, because feeding his kids was costing him $150 to $200 a month. Now, if he earns any income, at least that will be money he can put toward other necessities, such as paying the electric bill to keep the air conditioner on in the still-stifling Florida heat, instead of buying food.

In the meantime, Orange has applied for food stamps and continues to look for work, but said even landing a fast-food job has been difficult.

"Before, fast food, you could walk in, if you had experience, they would hire you. Now they're turning everybody away," he said. "[I'll do] whatever it takes to keep the bills paid and a roof over my kids' head."

Somehow, Orange said, he's going to get back his place in the middle-class. For now, his kids have a hot breakfast and lunch at school as well as what he gets from the food pantry -- the safety net -- to eat. That is the only reason they are not hungry.

Click here for full coverage of ABC News' Hunger at Home: Crisis in America

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