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Cans of food
3.29.02
Politics and Economy:
Life on the Edge
More on This Story:

Hunger Stories

Cathy Mounts
Cathy Mounts

Cathy Mounts is a former social worker for the state of Oregon. She got her degree through an educational block grant program which is no longer in existence. Until recently she was helping other Oregonians navigate the system, now she's been laid off herself and is faced with supporting her family without a job.

  • (on being back in the system) "I really feared having to go back into the system. It was kind of strange feeling to feel like I'm going backwards. I'm lucky I received unemployment. My unemployment helps me financially, but puts me just above the income guidelines to get any other assistance. So I have no health care, my kids have health care through the Oregon Health Care and that's because of the CHIPS program. It's mandated that they have health insurance."

  • (on feeding her family) "We have had times when we haven't been able to have food in the house. There has been weeks, many weeks we have not gone grocery shopping. We talked a little bit about the system and being hungry and how the food box system doesn't [serve] the need of kids who have allergies. ..Food boxes tend to be a sustaining life force for poor families. The food stamps would actually allow people to buy those products that they couldn't otherwise get in food boxes."

  • (on support networks) "It would be wonderful if people had a supportive network of friends and family, they wouldn't have to rely on state agencies. However that is not always possible. People have left their home towns and come to Oregon here and other states to get away from dysfunctional families. To get away from the network of people who were really bringing them down and not moving them forward."


  • Pat Martinez
    Pat Martinez

    Pat Martinez was born and raised in Portland. He has his GED and has worked at skilled industry jobs in steel mills and other industries. He was laid off from his job as a metal stud framer. He has four children at home. Heavy industry is slow and work only comes sporadically.

  • (on his family situation) "[I have] a thirteen old, an eleven year old, a four year old and a three year old. Two boys and two girls and it's rough. We have a home right here on 58th Street and it's just really rough right now. We're going to be out on the streets really soon....We have very little family in Oregon. It's like we could be out of the streets here if I don't get a job soon. I would like to eat a decent meal in my home while I have my home at least. "

  • (on his working life) "I always worked, always had a decent life. Being able to keep my home and keep my family and you know they say you have to have insurance on your vehicle. You got to have this, you got to have that. Well, if you have no job you can't have all this and that you know. They are necessities. They are not even luxuries, they are necessities."

    "I've never been in this position. I'm not used to being in this position. Welfare and food stamps. I never really thought about it because I never had to you know. Until now, it's really ridiculous. It's embarrassing the way they make you feel, it's really rough for a working person to get into this situation that we know nothing about. These papers and all these rights and all these non rights. I don't really understand it all. I really don't. They expect you to sign, sign, sign and then you sign, sign, sign and nothing."


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