Martha Andalon, a volunteer at a community center in Firebaugh, California, helps distribute bags of free food, enough for 200 families. She knows first-hand the hardships people are facing; she and her farmworker husband are currently unemployed and struggling to feed their four children. Andalon is learning English and computer skills in hopes of landing a job. Volunteering at the community center guarantees her a free bag of food. Others, however, start arriving at 5 am to ensure they’ll get a bag, containing a whole chicken, canned goods, boxed mac and cheese, potatoes and other staples. Men in cowboy hats, mothers, grandmothers and small children stand in a line that stretches out into the parking lot. The wait can be several hours long; latecomers sometimes leave empty-handed.

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“In recent decades, the responsiveness of policy makers to the preferences of the affluent has steadily grown, but responsiveness to less-well-off Americans has not.”

- Affluence & Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America, by Martin Gilens

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