By Brian Rinker
It was under tragic circumstances when 2-year-old Alivia went to live with her grandmother, Corrinna Martin, in West Haven Connecticut. Alivia had survived a brutal domestic violence slaying that killed her mother, Chaquinequea Brodie, 29, and her older sister, My’Jaeaha Richardson, 9.
Martin, who was once in foster care herself, said she wasn’t going to let her granddaughter, who had just witnessed the deaths of her mother and sister, experience the added trauma of growing up in the system. So she took on the responsibility of raising Alivia herself.
Martin soon discovered that being a grandma, spoiling the grandkids with candy and junk food when they came to visit, is different from being a full-time mom, she said.
“Once she came into my custody full time,” Martin said, “I became responsible for all of her nutritional sustenance.”
When a grandparent or any relative becomes the guardian of a family member’s child, like Martin taking in Alivia, they’re frequently referred to as grandfamilies or kinship families. Grandparents raising children face unique legal and financial challenges including food insecurity.
According to a report from the grandfamily advocacy group Generations United, grandfamilies face higher rates of food insecurity than other families. The report estimates there are 2.5 million children being raised by their grandparents in the U.S.
“No one should have to go hungry because they stepped up to care for a child,” said Jamarl Clark, assistant director of the National Center on Grandfamilies at Generations United.