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Hunger is Painful

by Jake Coakley

(Originally appeared in All About Food, September 2014)

JSI/WEI Photo Library Photo
I recall growing up with very little food. I have kept it a secret for most of my life.

We didn’t have food stamps or welfare or even public housing back then. The only thing we had was pride. I would ask my Mommy for five cents to buy lunch at school, and she would cry. I never quite understood why until many years later. I never knew she had no money and that we were poor.

One day, when I was grown, she told me the reason she cried when I asked her for money all those years ago. She cried because she felt bad that she couldn’t provide for me. Looking back, I think I might not have asked as much, had I known. Now I realize how painful it must have been for her. It was painful for me, too.

My father died when I was young, and my mother had to take care of our family. She got a job on the farm and took me to work with her. I told myself that if I ever grew up, I would not have any children because I did not want them to experience the pain that I had from hunger.

I pray that no other child would ever experience this kind of hunger.

Jake Coakley grew up in South Carolina. He is now 72 years old. He has received many blessings. He and his wife have provided for 6 children. Three years ago he learned to read, and he can now read his Bible with understanding. “A new world has opened for me,” he says. “I am so happy now.” He is a student at WAITT House in Roxbury, MA, where he serves on the student advisory council and on the board. “To all the people like me,” he says, “flush your pride down the toilet and go back to school.”


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