Going to bed hungry

stresses poor tianna turner

Tianna Gaines-Turner
Age: 35
Hometown: Philadelphia

Mice infestations. Health scares. Food shortages. Tianna Gaines-Turner, her husband Marcus, and their three children have been struggling with poverty for years.

The couple emerged from unemployment last year, when Tianna found a part-time child care job paying $10.88 per hour and Marcus secured a part-time job cutting deli meat at a supermarket for $8.50 an hour.

After waiting for low-income housing for close to a decade, they were also finally able to move out of their mice-infested house into a Section 8 home that costs them only $30 per month in rent (though that will increase now that they both found work).

While things are looking up, the couple still struggles to get by. They receive $383 per month in food stamps, but that money never lasts. By the end of the month, Tianna or Marcus take turns going to bed hungry in order to make sure their children are fed.

"When you have three growing children they go through food really fast -- and this winter they missed a lot of time from school with snow days, so the food didn't stretch as far," said Tianna.

The three children also suffer from asthma and epilepsy, as does Tianna. Between working, looking for better-paying jobs and taking care of her kids, Tianna has collapsed several times over the past year.

What's your biggest stress? "Running out of food. There's not a day I wake up where I don't worry about food."

What keeps you going? "My faith and my family -- besides the fact that I love life."

First published June 24, 2014: 10:55 AM ET

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