Despite possessing a basically flat geography, Texas' Rio Grande Valley was named by realtors who hoped to draw newly prosperous, working-class families to land and weather reminiscent of Southern California.
Today, Texas' version of "the Valley" is one of the poorest regions in the United States - despite the fact that a majority of its residents remain working-class.
One such resident, Nancy Martinez, is a shrimp-packer and mother of two who has been forced to use food stamps to make ends meet. She is one of a growing number of working families hit by rising food and fuel prices.
"A year ago, it wasn't like this,'' Martinez told The Monitor while waiting to re-apply for the benefit. "It's not just the familiar faces now,'' she said, looking across the waiting room.