The Center for Hunger-Free Communities

Solutions Based on Science and the Human Experience

Community Voices: The Smoke Screen

July 15, 2015

Tianna Gaines-Turner, Witnesses to Hunger-Philadelphia, submitted a blog to Community Voices, a project of The Center for American ProgressCoalition on Human NeedsFood Research and Action Center and Witnesses to Hunger to help amplify stories and personal experiences with hunger and nutrition assistance programs. 

I look in the box and what do I see? Electric, gas, telephone – all bills addressed to me.

I look once again to make sure there are no more,

Sit down and open them up 1 by 1 as my eyes well up with tears.

It feels like life’s struggles have rested in my throat as the stress pulls upon my shoulders.

It's not too much for me.

The next day I go to the mailbox – a lovely magazine with the hottest fashion; no shopping for me.

I put down the magazine. The phone is ringing. Who’s on the line?

It's the House Budget Committee

So excited to be an expert Witness – that's me.


I go over what I'm going to say. I pick photos to go with my words to make them see when you talk about Hunger & Poverty it’s me.


I tell my story, very personal for the world to know. Not ashamed. We need a solid plan

To end Hunger and Poverty.

So many want a hand in not a hand out. We can speak for ourselves better than any graph written on fancy paper.


No one to yell cut scene, take off the rose-tinted glasses, remove the Smoke Screen.


Life for families living in Poverty, that is what it feels like at times. You’re walking in fog, no clarity in sight. Maybe today

The caseworker will get it right. We don't fault her it’s a system with so many gaps.

The safety net needs a net.

These are just my thoughts, my life with no actors, no do-over's, just a new day.


For me to speak the truth – Hi I'm over here please don't forget we are people too.

I have been down this road before and crossed this bridge as if I missed my turn or got off at the wrong exit.

As stress, depression, and deceit stand right in front of me, I roar back and stand strong.

Get beneath my feet, I can't stop now, I won't be beat.

I'm on every body's list. I can admit things sometimes get a little tight.

That doesn't mean I don't break my back to try to make it right.

I have to do what's right to make a difference in his or her life.

So when you write and make Laws please try to make them right for everyone no matter what race, gender or family size or area code.


I can help you understand my life. Walk in my shoes for just a week. The twists and turns, ups and downs will make you dizzy with no way out.

Our children will be lawyers, doctors, engineers; maybe the next President or the Speaker of The House.


I have to go now the mailman just came.


I have to go check the box with no fear.

I smile.

Today is a new day. Things will get better.


Signing off,

Time for a commercial break.


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