Childhood hunger in North Philadelphia more than triples
Stephanie Sakho believes that people who work should have fuller refrigerators than she does.
The divorced, certified nursing assistant from Southwest Philadelphia puts in 40 hours a week. But even with her salary and a $300 monthly allotment of food stamps, there isn’t always enough to feed her 10-year-old daughter and year-old son.
“I think people would be surprised that there are kids in the city not getting enough to eat,” said Sakho, 28, who makes $13 an hour, near the poverty line for a family of three. “I’m working, but people who see me don’t know the refrigerator is empty.”
Sakho’s “deeply alarming” plight is becoming more common, said Mariana Chilton, director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities and a professor of health management and policy at School of Public Health at Drexel University.
Between 2006 and 2016, childhood hunger in North Philadelphia has more than tripled among families where parents work 20 or more hours a week, according to Chilton’s research at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, part of Children’s HealthWatch, a national research network that investigates the impact of public assistance programs on children’s health. Chilton said her findings in North Philadelphia likely resemble rates of childhood hunger throughout the city.
“The trend looks terrible for working families,” Chilton said. “You can’t be working class in Philadelphia and thrive.
“This should surprise us — and stop us in our tracks.”