After waiting in a food distribution line for food-insecure families, Tameka became part of an online conversation about food insecurity. Social media chatter criticized some of the people who were looking for support because of the cars they were driving. Even though Tameka’s car is more than 10 years old, commenters zeroed in on the car’s brand and cast judgement without knowing her whole story.
1. Facing Judgement
Tameka: I purchased that car when I had a good job. The car is really old, it’s like 11 years old now. Because you’re saying expensive cars, and you’re naming names, I’m like well I have a car like that but just because I have a car like that doesn’t mean I’m not in need. So you never know because my situation was totally different from anybody’s situation.
2. Unexpected Circumstance
Tameka: My daughter, she went into the hospital, she had pneumonia, she already was having asthma problems and by the end of that week she wound up having a massive stroke. So, I really didn’t have any leave because I just started a job. But I was only there for two months so I really didn’t have any leave. So, that being said, of course she’s going to be out for a while, which she stayed in the hospital for about two months and then after that she had to do rehab which was about five months. So they wanted to know am I going to come back to work full time? Part time? I really didn’t know, it was so fresh to me. It was just like something that you would never imagine would have happened to your child.
3. Growing Pains
Tameka: She needs like one size smaller than the other size and you can’t purchase shoes like that. And I’m not going have her in orthopedic shoes and everybody’s really laughing at her. So, I have to be smart and what I do is, I take out the pad, the padding in one, sometimes I’ll add a gel in the other just to offset with the brace. It’s important because I don’t want her to get bullied at school. I don’t want her to get talked about at school and it’s not to fit in like, oh, you’re going to get a pair of Burberry or Polo or something, it’s Converse — just basic Nike or whatever. But, she needs something where she feels like, ‘I’m normal and I fit in’, that makes her day go by better. That makes her, you know, do her work and things like that and don’t shut down. If I can do whatever I can, I’m going do whatever I can to make sure she’s safe and she feels like ‘I belong’.
4. Looking for Help
Tameka: Food stamps help a lot with taking care of the household but by the end of the month when everything is gone, that’s when it’s a stretch. By the end of the month like by week 3 going into 4, that’s when it’s a stretch. . . Because sometimes her dad, during seasonal hours, because he works at a hotel, now no one is at the hotel in this area when it’s cold. Only during like spring time to summer time and the end of summer. So during fall and winter, there isn’t really a lot of work for him so child support goes down, I mean it goes down tremendously. So I can’t afford my bills anymore, so, I was blessed to get a housing voucher, which that helps a lot. So with the housing voucher and the energy allowance that they give you along with the food stamps, I think I should be able to prosper and try to get back on my feet.
5. Hope for the Future
Tameka: Life is not easy — every time you wake up in the morning, you are still living through this crisis, but with prayer, and good family members and good people out in the community, it can be your motivation and an inspiration in your life to ease off some of the pain. You know it’s not going to be perfect 100 percent every day, but you will have good days.