How is poverty in the US

Poverty in the USA: A job, a car, but not enough to eat


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At 6:30 a.m., Kefah Allen parks her car on the hard shoulder in front of the West Houston Assistance Ministries driveway. Getting up early was worth it, she is the first in line. An hour and a half later, there are more than 50 other cars behind her. It will be another hour before Allen can drive her car to the food service station in the Westchase district of Houston to get groceries.

The 49-year-old is well prepared, she knows the waiting times. Twice a month she stands here with her Chevrolet SUV, which has seen better days. It's unusually cold this morning. Winter has arrived in the city in the southern US state of Texas, where winter is actually unknown. Allen has thrown a blanket over himself, is wearing a hat and gloves that do not match. The main thing is that your hands are warm.

Allen begins to talk through the open side window, a little nervous at first. Only later does she laugh and joke about her age while taking pictures. It's not easy to talk about the help she needs. That her family needs. "It was difficult to take that step," says Allen of her first visit to the Tafel at the very beginning of the pandemic. That was almost a year ago. Her husband, who works as a janitor, had lost his job. Allen himself does not work. Although the Egyptian has lived in the USA for more than 20 years, she does not yet have a passport. She could do a job like that, but two of her four children still live at home and take care of them.

"I want to help my family"

The family got along until Allen's husband became unemployed. The government check for $ 600 as additional corona aid was not enough. "Meat and vegetables are so expensive," says Allen. So she decided to make use of the food aid: "I want to help my family."

Her husband is now back to work, but financially it remains tight. The loss of wages of a few months is not so easy to compensate. But Kefah Allen hopes that things will get better soon. "My husband and children all voted for Joe Biden." Everyone who wears their face mask in the car would like more financial aid and better control of the pandemic. So that at some point she no longer has to queue to get something to eat. So far, the aid package promised by Biden has not yet been completed. But everyone who is not allowed to vote as a non-US citizen believes in him. "I would have chosen him too," she says.

Millions of Americans have been like Kefah Allen since the outbreak of the corona pandemic. In a regular poll by the US Census Bureau at the end of January, around 24 million adults said they had not had enough groceries in the previous week to support themselves and their families - mainly because they could not afford to go shopping. That's about eleven percent of the population. In 2019, the value in a survey by the Ministry of Agriculture was only three percent. Further studies show that single mothers in particular with children in the pandemic often do not have enough money to provide for their children adequately. And so the lines at the tables got longer and longer all over the country.