The Center for Hunger-Free Communities

Solutions Based on Science and the Human Experience

Crystal S

Crystal S
Active 2008-Present

“There are some benefits. They provide your children with vaccinations, things that they can’t get in third world countries, things that we take for granted… they can take care of me medically but the rest of me is just dangling out there, hanging on a rope...

See Crystal featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer series, "A Portrait of Hunger", and in this Philadelphia Inquirer story about threats to full-day kindergarten available here in Philadelphia.

Hear Crystal interviewed on WHYY Radio Times

See Crystal featured on

Crystal is 32 with three children ages 14, 10 and 5. She is in school for cosmetology and cares for her three children, all with medical issues. Her son had a stroke at birth, and suffers from cerebral palsy, asthma, acid reflux and a brain cyst. Her oldest daughter has severe scoliosis, and her youngest daughter has congenital heart disease.

“My everyday life consists of just trying to keep my kids safe and as healthy as possible,” she said. “I have to worry in my neighborhood: Will somebody rob me going to the store? Will somebody try to rape my kids? You just worry about safety and try not to have them tainted too much by living in poverty.”

Crystal said she’s had trouble with caseworkers  who intersect her life. “They assume you don’t work cause you’re lazy,” she said. “I got upset cause some lady at the Social Security office was getting smart with me. Excuse me, but I have worked since I was 14.”

Her favorite photo for Witnesses to Hunger was one of her children eating fresh fruit, which she can only sometimes afford.  She worries that the grinding poverty will never end.

“You have to walk a mile in our shoes to see why most of us are so hostile,” she said. “We don’t not pay our bills for the heck of it. We want to have good credit.  How can you be happy if you know this is all you’ll ever be able to have, no matter what you do to live better?”

3 children, aged 5 to 15
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