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THIS website is a private SUPPORT SITE for 4th ID veterans, active duty soldiers, family members, friends and everyone who supports our troops no matter how you feel about our leaders. Troublemakers, gossips. trolls, liars, etc are NOT welcome here. Posts that defame,, humiliate and/or intimidate other posters or the webmaster will be deleted without notice or comment. Please read the rules on the Main Page, thank you!
This forum has a long history, by interent standards anyway-unfortunately it has been abandoned for far too long due to real life circumstances knocking the heck out of what had been my very real desire to keep this board alive and well forever so that all of us could meet here and communicate with each other everyday.

I'm not sure that a forum like this is even needed nowadays since the advent of facebook, etc...but I hope that this once thriving BB does bring some of us back together again and that maybe some new folks will join us as well!   
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Blue Collar, Bare Cupboards

Ten miles outside Eugene in west central Oregon, little wooden houses and mobile homes make up the town of Alvadore. The homes are too far apart to give the town—population 1,358—the appearance of a city, yet too close together for it to come off as true countryside. Old, domestically manufactured cars line the streets, as well as a few rundown mom-and-pop convenience stores.

Small farmers, mill workers and construction people live here. And they work hard—or at least they do when they can get employment. There’s a dry nuts and prunes plant just outside town, as well as a Country Coach facility that manufactures motor homes. Many of the residents hold down several jobs to make ends meet. Yet for an increasing number of people in Alvadore, getting a paycheck—or even several paychecks—is not the same as earning enough to put food on the table.

Schools throughout the counties of central Oregon, the state’s hunger belt, report that kids come to classes hungry on Mondays—and endure the long summer vacation months when no free school lunches exist.

Alvadore, like many dilapidated towns in modern-day America, is at the wrong end of an array of economic changes—from globalization to higher energy costs—and many of its citizens are falling through the social safety net. The result: increased hunger

Payday loans and food boxes
Many of the town’s residents turn to the corner of 8th and B Streets, where the large wooden Alvadore Christian Church stands. On the fourth Thursday of each month, a sign is staked in the churchyard: Food Pantry.

During the winter months, around 40 families show up to receive bread, muffins, applesauce, canned soups, canned vegetables and other staples. In the summers the number of families served increases.

In one corner of the church is a table of food provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The rest—the vast majority—comes from donations by the local community. It’s a model that works during flush times, but it isn’t a particularly effective way of feeding the hungry during down times, when more people are struggling to make ends meet and fewer are able to donate food to charity.

Becky Darnall, 34, volunteers at the pantry and also relies on the food boxes from it. She says that when the pantry first opened two years ago, “we had 26-to-28 families. Within the last six months, it’s gone up to 40.”

Becky’s husband is a cook at a restaurant in nearby Springfield. In 2006, he earned $24,000. Last year, $27,000. This year, with a pay raise, he hopes to earn $30,000. As for Becky, she works part time as house-help for one of her neighbors, which brings in $8 an hour.

They have three kids, are raising a nephew and are living in a 30-year-old mobile home with a leaky roof and dubious electrical wiring. They drive an old Chevy Blazer with a malfunctioning engine that they cannot afford to repair, and that reduces the vehicle’s fuel efficiency to a ludicrous—and prohibitively expensive—seven miles per gallon. Becky’s husband spends $15 per day just driving to and from work.

Until this year, the family was unable to afford co-payments on the health insurance offered through her husband’s work. As a result, the Darnalls were saddled with $1,000 in emergency room bills when Becky came down with asthmatic bronchitis last year. The bills got sent to a collection agency, and the family is now struggling to pay them off. This past November, Becky’s husband needed an MRI, which landed the family with an additional $1,200 to pay off.

“We can get by,” Becky says cautiously, “but the difference between volunteering [at the church] and not is vegetable soup with macaroni thrown in. … It’s more like a real dinner.”

Before she started coming to the pantry, she says her family jumped through hoops to qualify for food stamps, and still ended up with hardly enough food to survive. “There were a few times it was really tight. But we got by.”

At first, Becky says, they borrowed from friends. Then they started borrowing against their future income. “The payday loan thing, which is a nightmare,” she says, referring to the practice many low-income Americans have resorted to in recent years of borrowing against their paychecks in order to make it through the last days of the pay period. It’s an exploitative—and usurious—financial trap that, over the years, has contributed to the economic crippling of America’s poor.