Poor, but feeding the rich – Once middle-class, Andono and Alan Bryant of Atlanta now live below the poverty line. Alan feeds the rich as a line cook at Ruth's Chris Steak House making $11 an hour. Andono is a nursing student at Atlanta Technical College. Atlanta has the highest income inequality in the nation, ahead of New Orleans, Washington and Miami, according to the Census Bureau. Atlanta is plagued by near 10% unemployment, yet it's also home to the third largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies.
Poor, but feeding the rich – Andono lost her job at a grocery strore after an injured knee prevented her from working 40 hours, she says. About the same time, Alan lost his job with DoubleTree Hotels -- and with it, their health insurance. In 2006 Andono suffered a heart attack. She spent nine days in the hospital, undergoing an angioplasty so a stent could be inserted to help blood flow. The result: a whopping $47,000 bill, the family says.
Poor, but feeding the rich – Andono joins fellow Georgia Avenue Food Cooperative members in unloading groceries from a truck in Atlanta. "If it were not for the co-op," she says, "a lot of us would not be able to survive. This is the bridge that helps get us over." The Bryants used to make $40,000, lived in their own home, and gave to others. She comes to the co-op to get groceries every two weeks. "We went from the giving to the receiving," she says.
Poor, but feeding the rich – Co-op members pack fresh vegetables. The income gap is on full display at the Georgia Avenue Food Cooperative, nestled in the heart of Atlanta's historic Grant Park, a bustling, gentrified neighborhood. Ninety-three percent of the co-op members live in poverty, says founder Chad Hale.
Poor, but feeding the rich – Andono stacks and organizes food for distribution at the co-op, which meets in the basement of the Georgia Avenue Presbyterian Church.
Poor, but feeding the rich – The co-op has received some neighborhood opposition from those who fear it could bring crime into the community. "We believe we're doing quite the opposite," Hale says. "By providing food, by alleviating that stress and fear, you lower the crime rate. If you don't have enough food, you'll begin to do things that you never thought of."