LR: I want to start with “What does hunger mean to you? What does it mean to be hungry?”
MA: well, hunger for me is like when you don’t have any food, your stomach growling and its hurting because you don’t have anything to eat
LR: Definitely. So would you say hunger is something people have pretty much daily, like in between meals you get hungry, or is there a difference between hungry and starving?
MA: yes there is.
LR: okay and how would you describe that difference?
MA: well hunger I said was in between meals, you know, I guess what…what I was saying was starving, you know? But um, yeah, um starving is when you don’t have any food or you don’t know when your next meal is gonna come or whatever…
LR: okay, um, what has been your experience with getting food? Like, is that a pretty normal thing to have in your house or is it kinda a day-to-day sorta?
MA: um, I go shopping about once a week and um I get food stamps but I run out of food because what they give you is enough to buy ramen noodles all month long-
MA: - and I don’t want to eat that, so I eat higher quality of food so I run out of food stamps so I do go to food pantries and uh you know, eat with my family sometimes, and things like that
LR: so “higher quality food”, what falls in that category for ya?
MA: you know, good food that you would get at a restaurant but you can cook yourself you know?
LR: okay, um, do you find, so about what point into the month do you run out of food?
MA: about ¾ of the way through
LR: okay so pretty much that last week is a food pantry type of week?
LR: okay. What—do you feel like you’re more hungry during certain times of the month than others? So do you find it works out well to go to the pantries? I don’t know what the pantries are like?
MA: well, (laughs), it’s not very good…
LR: what’s not very good about it?
MA: like they run out of meat if you’re not first in line-
MA:- you know, all they give you most of the time is canned goods, you know, and that’s not really something you want to eat all the time, you know, but I mean, you’re starving, you’re happy for anything, but I mean, you know, I don’t know, long lines, and sometimes you can’t even get into it because there’s so many people there and a lot of times you get there and the food’s gone, you know,
LR: what time would you have to get in line do you think?
MA: right away when it’s first opening
LR: is that like at 8 in the morning?
MA: no, um, but I’m talking about food pantries, o whatever, there’s certain times for each one and theres a phamplet that lone’s gives you that has all the food pantries on it
LR: but what time do you have to, I guess, say it opened at 5, um, could you get there right at 5 or would you have to go earlier?
MA: no, there’s usually not people standing in line waiting, If you go to the soup kitchen, there is. A long line of people waiting first thing in the morning. You know, that’s the place that serves you soup every day and like some odds and ends like bread or whatever to go with it.
LR: so, do you, why do you like the food pantries better than the kitchen?
MA: well, I had a ride there. And now, well, I still have to get rides to the food pantries, but um, I like the food better at the food pantries than I do at the soup kitchen, so uh,
LR: um, so, other than the soup kitchen, and the food pantry, and –I forget what you called those—
MA: food stamps
LR:--food stamps, yeah, is there any other place that you normally go, that you get food?
MA: well I can go to my family and eat there, whatever, you know?
LR: okay, about how often do you do that?
MA: a couple of times a month
LR: okay. So when you go, is it just like YOU go to your family’s or, do you have any of your own family that you bring with you, or ?
MA: no I don’t, I just go by myself,
LR: um, is your family, how do they get food? Are they also on food stamps?
MA: yes. My brother has kids so they get more, you know, and he usually gets something special for me, so if I I mean, you’re really not supposed to eat off each other’s food stamps but you know what I mean, they can’t really tell you, you know, you can’t make your sister dinner, haha, and he they usually get me something special, you know, they have to make it last but I don’t have kids so I don’t—well I do have to worry about making it last but I can go to the food pantry and so, he’d need to get a babysitter for his kids, you know, to be able to go,
LR: so you have more flexibility
MA: yeah I do.
LR: so you say sometimes he gets you something special?
MA: mm hmmm
LR: like-what’s special for you?
MA: like just if they’re eating one thing then he’ll get me something else if I don’t like it ya know? That’s what I’m saying
LR: um, so what are- you mentioned meat and steak before, what other types of food do you like to eat? If you could choose to eat however you wanted, what would you get?
MA: I like salads, meat, uh, um, pasta, seafood, ya know, I like seafood a lot, and um, I don’t know, that’s what
LR: so, um, pasta like spaghetti, or?
MA: like, like pasta salad, stuff like that. I’m really not a spaghetti eater
LR: so what sort of things do you really try to stay away from?
MA: ice cream, cookies, ya know, stuff like that, fattening things, brownies, all that kind of food, you know, I don’t—
LR: so no sweets for you, pretty much at all?
MA: mm mmm. No.
LR: so, like because it’s, do you have any reasons for staying away, like diabetes?
MA: no, I just don’t want to gain any weight.
LR: okay, okay, understandable. Um, so, you also mentioned, so like you don’t really like soup so much, are there any other foods that are okay to eat but that you don’t really like to eat?
MA: yeah like stuff you get from the food pantry like tuna fish, ya know, it is categorized as seafood but that’s not really seafood that I like to eat you know?
LR: what is the kind of seafood you like to eat?
MA: crab, and ya know, salmon, tilapia, you know…
LR: okay, do you normally buy like salmon and tilapia when you’re at the store?
MA: I don’t buy salmon but I do buy tilapia, you can buy it yeah, sometimes I get stuff from the deli too, you know, that’s pretty good
LR: so how long have you been on food stamps?
MA: about 7 yrs.
LR: about 7 yrs, and why did you start?
MA: I was homeless, and uh, yeah I didn’t have a job, I couldn’t work because I was disabled, so
LR: are you still disabled?
LR: so you also get SS money for that
LR: and do you use any of that towards food?
MA: yeah, sometimes, yeah, I do what I have to do you know, if you have to buy food you have to buy food, you know?
LR: yeah, so do you try to eat a certain number of meals a day, or try to have a certain calorie intake a day, or are there days that you go without eating meals?
MA: um, the worst I’ve had is last month and uh last weekend I ate once during the day and it was just a little burrito like this and it was all I had to eat all day and I had to wait Sunday until dinner time to eat, and I finally went to somebody’s house and so um, there is a little bit of circumstances why I don’t have my food stamps right now,
LR: oh, you don’t have them?
MA: well, I do, but I moved to GA for a while and I brought all my food there and I wasn’t gonna come back to IN and something happened and now I’m back in IN so my food is there so I’ve been eating at my family’s, food pantries, things like that
LR: is it hard to switch that over?
MA: I just, I was gonna switch it over but I didn’t stay long enough to switch it over, my monthly that I got here,
LR: oh okay, so you never switched it over there
MA: no, it’s on a card so you just swipe it, it’s like a credit card and you just swipe it
LR: oh, so you already went shopping like at the beginning of the month, over there,
MA: yeah, on the first,
LR: okay, okay, so now you’re up here, waiting for the first
LR: so, um, you said, are there like problems with the way the food pantries or stamps, that you didn’t know when you started, that make it hard to stwich over or food that you want to get or things like that that other people might not know about?
MA: could you repeat the question?
LR: yeah, sorry, are there uh certain situations, have you ever run into a situation where it was difficult to get into, to get the food you should’ve gotten for food stamps, or anything like that?
MA: I haven’t had any problems since they switched it over to a card. Yeah, you get sent the card, it’s there every month, you hold onto the card. When they were paper food stamps, I had problems with that because like someone would ask for my i.d. or something and I wouldn’t be able to get it, yeah, like now, I can’t, I left my i.d. in GA so I can’t go to the food pantries, somebody, you know, somebody’s gonna take me around but I haven’t been able to go yet because well, I don’t have an i.d. and that’s something they want to see, wherever you go for food, and I don’t think you should have to show an i.d. to get food.
LR: do they run your I.d.’s or anything?
MA: they don’t run it, they just want to know who you are, your social security number, address, and you know and some places you can’t go to because you know, you live somewhere else, and you don’t live in their district or something you know, and you might really need the food you know?
LR: cuz if you happen to be on that side of town…
LR: okay, um, but the cards, do they send you a new card every month or?
MA: no, it’s the same card, it’s like direct deposit.
LR: okay, so, I mean, maybe you don’t know this, but is it possible to carry over a balance from the last month?
MA: yeah, it is, yes. But that never happens to me because I always spend mine.
LR: uh, so do you cook often or buy pre-?
MA: yeah, I cook it. all the time.
LR: okay, um, if you could change maybe have some ideas about things you would change, make it easier for people to get access to food?
MA: I think people need to have more flyers up
LR: so media? That would make it better
LR: okay, do you feel like it’s hard to find places to go? Or I mean when you first get to a new area, like GA, was it hard?
MA: I didn’t need it in GA so it wasn’t a problem I didn’t need it in GA. Here when I first got here to this town I didn’t know where to go, and you know, not a lot of people know about the food pantries and the people I meet around town have money and have jobs and food’s an unemployment problem, you know? When you need food you know, that’s usually what it is
LR: so would you recommend putting flyers up at an unemployment office or where do you think information would be best placed to let people know about?
MA: I think it should be at the welfare office, I think it should be at the courthouse, I think it should be broadcast on the radio station, um, and tv, cuz you know, you might be at someone’s house, you might not even have a tv, you know, where you could hear about it you know, and find out where to go for food.
LR: okay, really? Do you have any other experiences with food or hunger that you want to share that we haven’t covered?
MA: no. pretty much the same every single month you know.