The Complexities of Poverty: A Learning Experience

This blog post was written by Jim Farrington, a CORA Board Member.

At CORA, we address a very important aspect of poverty: hunger. Recently, I took part in an exercise that brought me a new awareness of the myriad problems in addition to hunger that our families face every day of their lives.

A Chatham County non-profit organization, UPLIFT Chatham, created the event called COPE (Cost of Poverty Experience). It is a poverty simulation which illustrates the difficulty of surviving with only limited funds and resources. During our exercise, participants were put in groups of four to form a “family” and each family was given a backstory describing its situation. The assignment was to figure out how to take care of all the basic needs – food, shelter, childcare, healthcare, transportation and pay all the monthly bills a family accumulates. The simulation included a host of service agencies that could assist but using them required time and mobility which, as in real life, were limited. For example, in your role, you needed to find employment but might need to first arrange childcare and transportation.

The steps that had to be taken to secure enough money to pay bills and the effort required to provide necessities demonstrated how much difficulty is involved in accessing possible sources of assistance. The level of frustration and anxiety became real even though the situation was imaginary. I cannot imagine the anguish of dealing with that month after month.  It was definitely an experience to remember.

However, through this experience, I did realize a greater appreciation for CORA’s work in our community. If you need food and are a resident of Chatham County, you are welcome to receive food from CORA – no referrals and no red tape. CORA is a place where the community comes together to help ensure that none of its neighbors go hungry and truly is a place of compassion for those struggling with poverty in Chatham County.

If you are interested in sharing in the COPE experience through UPLIFT Chatham, please visit