Community & Society / Experts / Health & Medicine

Mothers Talk Poverty and Hunger: Mariana Chilton and Tianna Gaines Join Melissa Harris-Perry

“This is a picture of some of us Witnesses to Hunger showing the world our sisterly love.” -Photo and Voice by Imani S., Philadelphia

“This is a picture of some of us Witnesses to Hunger showing the world our sisterly love.”
-Photo and Voice by Imani S., Philadelphia

A message from Dr. Mariana Chilton:

This Sunday I am proud to celebrate Mother’s Day by talking about the hunger and poverty faced by too many mothers on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show (10am, MSNBC).  I will be joined by another mother and member of Witnesses to Hunger, Tianna G.

Tianna is a loving mother of three young kids.  She works hard to support her family but it is not always enough.

“My children are my life,” Tianna said.  “A lot of times I let my well-being go for them.  But what good mother doesn’t?”

Right now too many American women, especially mothers, are required to let their own well-being go because they struggle to put food on their table.  In 2011, over 40% of female headed households with children were food insecure.  Far too many mothers and children are living on the edge.

Spend some time this Mother’s Day learning more about the difficult challenges so many mothers face in the US today. Then talk to us on Twitter @HungerFreeCtr where we will be using the hashtags #EndHungerNow, #SNAPworks, and #talkpoverty. You can also sign up to take action as part of A Place at the Table’s Social Action Campaign.

This Mother’s Day let’s commit to ensuring that no mother has to go without food to feed her children or has to send her kids to bed early because she just does not have enough money for dinner.  Let’s honor our mothers, end hunger now!

Dr. Mariana Chilton is an associate professor and director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities in the Drexel University School of Public Health

Dr. Mariana Chilton is an associate professor and director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities in the Drexel University School of Public Health

Dr. Mariana Chilton is an associate professor and director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities in Drexel University’s School of Public Health.

Chilton investigates the health impacts of hunger and food insecurity among young children aged zero to three. Her work spans across a variety of issues that affect low-income families to address nutritional wellbeing, public assistance participation, housing instability and employment. She has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committees to inform policy decisions regarding child nutrition.

Major projects of Chilton’s Center for Hunger-Free Communities include:

  • Witnesses to Hunger: A photodocumentary, ethnography, and self-advocacy project that equips low-income parents (primarily mothers) with cameras to document what hunger and related issues mean to them.  All too often, policies and programs are created without the participation of the people who are most affected. The true experts on maternal and child health and poverty are the mothers of young children. These moms focus their lenses on their children, on their neighborhoods, on their daily grinds at work and on welfare. Chilton established “Witnesses” in Philadelphia in 2008 with 40 women and has since expanded it with participants across Pennsylvania, in Boston, Baltimore, and more regions. A group of ten Witnesses in Camden, New Jersey, will have the debut display of their photographs soon.
  • Children’s HealthWatch: A network of pediatricians and public-health researchers at five sites around the U.S. collect data about the health and nutrition status of young children when they are seen in emergency rooms.  Since 1998, the study has provided the most current and largest dataset in the nation about the food security and development of very young children living in poverty. Chilton coordinates the Philadelphia site of this program.
  • The GROW Clinic: Chilton founded the Philadelphia site of this clinic (modeled on one in Boston) providing integrative medical care for young children experiencing “failure to thrive” – a manifestation of chronic malnutrition.

Chilton is an experienced spokesperson for the issues she studies and for the real people whose struggles she has come to know intimately, via the Witnesses program. She has spoken before legislators and in national and international media on issues including:

  • Impacts of hunger and poverty on children’s health and development
  • Food stamps (SNAP), welfare, and other public assistance programs and their impact on children’s health
  • Issues of employment, single mothers, and public assistance

Read Chilton’s blog post for the Melissa Harris-Perry Show on poverty and hunger – written especially for her appearance (with Tianna Gaines-Turner, a member of Witnesses to Hunger) on a special edition of the show devoted to finding solutions to poverty in America. Watch live, May 12, from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern on MSNBC.

For media inquiries about Chilton, Witnesses to Hunger or the Center for Hunger-Free Communities, please contact Rachel Ewing at raewing@drexel.edu or 215-895-2614 (office) or 215-298-4600 (cell).

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