Janette Simon has four chicken legs and five kids to feed.
Her freezer is bare. And her latest trip to the food pantry yielded little else for dinner this night: a bag of day-old croissants, a box of Corn Flakes, and some canned goods.
She slathers barbecue sauce on the chicken, slides the pan in the oven, and begins her nightly ritual of distracting her five children from hunger.
The 44-year-old single mother often skips dinner herself. She hides Ramen noodle packets in her closet to ration food. She tells her two youngest kids to play outside “so they ain’t thinking about eating.”
“That’s what I have to worry about,” she says. “I gotta look at these kids with their sad faces and no food.”
On the 13th of every month, she has counted on seeing a $600 payment on her food-stamp debit card. But now, that payment is a month late.