Our Stories: Layla Polk

I’m a mother of two, and a student at Stockton. I was doing well until a year ago when I lost my job while pregnant, then lost my apartment. Things went downhill from there.

I didn’t have a car, or money for a car. I signed up for TANF, which was temporary. I was trying to get housing assistance, but was denied three times. DYFS took my kids, and I had to enroll in a five-month drug treatment program to prove I don’t have a substance abuse problem.

I was advised to quit school to enroll in a day program to qualify for food stamps. I’d have to go every day, 20 hours a week, until I found a job, but I already have a job, which prevents me from getting food stamps. It’s a lot, but I’m determined to get through this—it’s not going to be the end of me.

There’s a large population of single people who are starving. We’re not lowlives, and many are college students. Starvation affects your mood, your behavior, and your thinking. Hunger causes an altered state of reality. The GOP doesn’t think about that. Have they ever been desperate? If they’re not going to raise minimum wage, they should increase access to food assistance. Anything else is inhumane.

Soda, chips and candy shouldn’t be the only option you have in a particular neighborhood—especially when you go to the other side of town they have fresh markets, fruit, vegetables, and meat.

I graduate this year, and I will continue to fight for students and working mothers.

Layla Polk

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