Hunger at Home: Since Recession 20 Million More Americans on Food Stamps
One in seven Americans are on food stamps.
Aug. 24,2011 -- The McKimmons girls in Arkansas pray before each dinner, grateful for every meal. Michelle Sutton near Atlanta sacrifices her own food for her boys. And 10-year-old Jahzaire Sutton in Philadelphia has a nearly empty refrigeratior.
In every corner of the country, a portrait of hidden hunger has now emerged. The recession has pushed 2.4 million more children into poverty. Seventeen million children are "food insecure," meaning their parents often don't know where the next meal will come from.
Simply put, one in six Americans don't have enough food.
Dawn and Michael McKimmons live near Fort Smith, Ark., and have moved into a trailer to save money. Dawn works at a hotel, while Michael delivers pizzas. They have taken whatever jobs they could find, but it is still not enough to feed the family.
They make do with help from their local food bank and try to shield their three little girls from the daily struggle.
"I hear my kids ask me, 'Mommy what's for dinner?' And I sit there at times, I sit there and kind of just pace back and forth thinking to myself, 'Oh my gosh, what is for dinner,'" said Dawn.
Outside Atlanta, the Suttons slipped from the middle class when Bob Sutton's concrete company went under. Michelle Sutton said she used to be a typical soccer mom, but not anymore. She told ABC News that her 11-year-old son hugged her and said, "Wow, you feel skinny."
Dr. Mariana Chilton, founder of Witnesses to Hunger, says the recession has hit the middle class hard.
"People who have been middle class who are now struggling to put food on the table are feeling an enormous amount of stress," she said. "They are starting to experience the pain of poverty, of what it's like to be poor."
In Philadelphia, 10-year-old Jahzaire Sutton knows it's the end of the month, when the food stamps have long run out.