A group of Missourians are hopeful to end poverty in the state by spreading awareness and pushing for advocacy on the issue. The Missourians to End Poverty has hosted a summit encouraging individuals to step forward and share how their lives have been affected by poverty.
Executive Director DeAnna Alonso with the Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association is one of them. She says she’s living proof of someone who experienced and has overcome living in poverty. “Growing up in poverty from the time I was in kindergarten, and the experience of being segregated out,” Alonso said. “I remember having to pull my cot in a corner during nap time and there would be chants in the background about me being a dirty little lice girl.”
Alonso says there’s an immediate stigma against someone when they’re poor. “You would get laughed at because your pants don’t go all the way to your ankles, or you have Wal-Mart clothes on and people are highly judgemental,” she said. “You have to sit in these big rooms and wait for hours in order to get a couple of sacs of food to bring home so that you have something to eat.”
“There were times growing up I remember having to go out and hunt for food. Squirrels, rabbits, whatever it may be,” she adds. Alonso says she remembers one time in particular when there were no animals nearby and she has just returned home from school. She says she opened the lid of a pan and found a turtle floating at the top. She says that’s one of the days she ended up going to be hungry.
The Missourians to End Poverty says there are five impacts that are meaningful to Missourians; food, health, education, housing and energy. The U.S. Census Bureau says 14.3 percent of all Missourians live below the poverty level.
To listen to the full interview on poverty with DeAnna Alonso, click HERE. (5:53)
AUDIO: Mary Farucci reports. (1:02)