What recovery? Despite improving employment numbers, many still in poverty


Mel Sipes of Greenwood loads his car outside the Interchurch Food Pantry Tuesday. Sipes and his wife are raising their 10-year-old grandson and have less income than the federal poverty line of about $20,000 for a family of three. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal

Mel Sipes of Greenwood picks out extra canned goods at the Interchurch Food Pantry on Tuesday. About 14,000 Johnson County residents are living in poverty, and local food pantries and charitable organizations are continuing to see steady or increasing use over the past year. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal

A Franklin woman pulled into the station and bought one gallon of gas — just enough to get around town — becauase it was all she could afford.

When Cora Gibbs lost her full-time job at a veterinary clinic in May, her family went from doing OK month-to-month to barely scraping by. Gibbs, her daughter and granddaughter live together, and in the past five months they have rapidly plunged into poverty.

She counted pocket change to see if they had enough for a gallon of milk. Their bank account was so overdrawn that her daughter’s paychecks would just barely take the balance out of the negative. They struggled to figure out how to come up with an extra $35 so they didn’t have to tell her 6-year-old granddaughter that she couldn’t play soccer this year.

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