Rosalie Higgins has had a hardscrabble life. She didn’t make it into the air force and she couldn’t complete nursing school. The jobs she was able to get with the computer skills that she picked up in trade school paid no better than $6.50 an hour. At age 66, she lives on her Social Security check of $623 a month, which is less than the rent for a one-bedroom apartment. Since she picks up trash around the apartment building, her landlord is willing to knock $50 off her bill. She gets her food from a food pantry, where she also volunteers.
Higgins, recently profiled along with other poor people by the Chicago Tribune, is one of about 35.5 million Americans who are what the Department of Agriculture terms “food insecure.” These people depend on food banks and food pantries, and often don’t know where their next meal is coming from. About 11 million Americans actually go hungry.