One in six people is struggling with hunger in America right now.
Last year, the number of single-mother families living in poverty increased to 4.1 million, or 41.5 percent, according to a U.S. Census report. College grads are facing the highest unemployment rate this country has seen in 20 years.
While these grim rates help put the U.S.’s economic situation into context, they don’t do much in the way of painting realistic pictures of what it means to live day-in and day-out in with enough funds to barely get by.
To find out what poverty truly looks like for struggling families, reddit user Luizeef sparked a stunning conversation on the site on Thursday. Luizeef asked users to share “what memory from your childhood makes you think wow we were poor?'"
The responses show use more about low-income living than any stat could.
"My dad breaking down and crying after realizing he didn't have enough money to buy all the school supplies we needed."
"Realizing that we were living in my aunts backyard, in a tent, and not camping for three months. then getting kicked out and living in a car."
"I remember opening presents at 4 AM by candlelight one year because we had no power and my dad was going to work a half hour after that."
I remember going dumpster diving with my dad when I was a young child. He would hold me up so I could describe what I saw inside the dumpster. If there were soda cans or glass bottles, he would lower me into the dumpster and I would throw the cans and bottles out onto the ground, where he would collect them. Then he would get me out. I received one of those "grabber" tools as a Christmas present, and we used it to grab cans easier. I suspect the only reason I was given the grabber is so we could collect cans more efficiently. I thought it was great fun at the time, but now I realize we were poor. My dad died when I was 14 and these are some of my most treasured memories of him.
"I remember begging to go to McDonald's, where I would have a happy meal and my parents would have nothing and watch me eat. I didn't realize it at the time, but they couldn't afford to order a meal for themselves."
"My 2 brothers and I ate toast for breakfast, top ramen for lunch, and popcorn for dinner, for a entire summer while our amazing mother worked 3 jobs to keep a roof over our heads."
"My 12th birthday cake was just a big rice crispy square with little gummy candies that spelled my name out."
Living in a garage with a dirt floor, bathing in a kiddy pool with the holes duct taped up while my mom cooked on a oven rack supported by cement blocks.