Is the recession really over?

Photo by Chris O'Meara/AP

Photo by Chris O’Meara/AP

One of my goals in 2015 is to write more about poverty and class issues in America. My first story with this theme was published today.

Ask Joshua Thevenin — who since last month has been a newspaper salesman, fireworks vendor and tele-marketer — what he thinks about assertions the economy is roaring toward recovery and you’ll get a sigh and a shake of his head.

“I don’t see it. If it is, I don’t know where,” he said.

I met Joshua right before Christmas as he worked at the fireworks tent. His story is that of many people — struggling to find full time, meaningful work. While it might seem that the economy has bounded back in places like Washington, D.C., San Francisco and New York City, here in suburban Florida it’s a different story.

Joshua was so angry while listening to President Obama’s State of the Union speech that he turned it off. Politicians of both parties, he said, have abandoned the poor.

“I just got so upset. All I hear about is the middle class, the middle class. The people who need the help aren’t the middle class. It’s the lower class that needs help. What the President said wasn’t anything new.”

Hunger in Florida

The state of Florida is offering a GIS map that allows people to look up where there are “food deserts” – places where there are few, or no mainstream grocery stores.

From a story I wrote today:

According to Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief charity, there are 3.1 million “food insecure” people in Florida. Food insecurity is defined by the USDA as “consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.”

A Harvard School of Public Health study released earlier this week showed that Americans’ eating habits have improved – except among the poor. Researchers said it was evidence of a widening wealth gap when it comes to diet.