"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the
abundance of those who have much. It's whether we
provide enough for those who have too little."
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt
For more information: AAUW Fact Sheets and Position Papers on Affirmative Action, Athletics, Education, Managed Care Reform, Reproductive Rights, and Social Security Reform.
Food Insecurity in St. Lawrence County with Heather Sullivan-Catlin and Daisy Cox (Jan. 27, 2015)
North Country Matters: Gloria McAdam, the Executive Director for GardenShare.org (Jan. 20, 2015)
North Country Matters Video: St. Lawrence County Community Food Security Assessment with Heather Sullivan-Caitlin (Sept. 12, 2014)
North Country Matters Video: Poverty in St. Lawrence County, NY: A panel of local people discussed the way poverty manifests itself at the SUNY Canton's Campus Center's Kingston Theater on Feb. 5, 2014 as part of a week of activities sponsored by the International Student Activist Organization (ISAO). (May 4, 2014)
Video: The Story of Hungry - A unique look at life through the eyes of a small girl struggling with hunger, and how something as simple as breakfast in the classroom can changer her day, her week — and maybe even her entire future.
Film: A Place at the Table and its trailer>
A Framework for Understanding Poverty By Ruby K. Payne - People in poverty face challenges virtually unknown to those in middle class or wealth--challenges from both obvious and hidden sources. The reality of being poor brings out a survival mentality, and turns attention away from opportunities taken for granted by everyone else.
Updated July 29, 2015
- Fighting senior hunger: Rochester is getting ready to roll out a new initiative to help seniors who are going hungry.
- The remarkably high odds you'll be poor at some point in your life - The poor in America are not a permanent class of people. Who's poor in any given year is different from who's poor a few years later.
- Under Secretary of USDA speaks on-campus - Kevin Concannon, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, dispelled SNAP myths recently in a speech at the University of Georgia campus. Although some say undocumented immigrants are receiving benefits, "[y]ou have to be a legal citizen of the U.S.," said Concannon. The majority of SNAP recipients are white U.S. citizens, more than 40 percent of recipients have jobs, and half of the 45 million recipients are children. Concannon also noted that the Institute of Medicine found that the SNAP Program does not provide enough help, particular for children or those working jobs at odd hours.
- Navigating a Bureaucratic Maze to Renew Food Stamp Benefits - While New York City has been working to increase SNAP access to needy residents, many who rely on the benefits find they must navigate a messy, complicated system if they have a question or issue with their benefits or when they renew, and some find their benefits cancelled. The Safety Net Project at the Urban Justice Center has seen, over the past two years, a marked increase in the number of complaints from SNAP recipients. "We are moving, literally, as quickly as possible to eliminate these barriers to assistance," said Steven Banks, commissioner of the Human Resources Administration.
- Why Disability and Poverty Still Go Hand in Hand 25 Years After Landmark Law - If you have a disability in the U.S., you're twice as likely to be poor as someone without a disability. You're also far more likely to be unemployed. And that gap has widened in the 25 years since the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted.
- Housing Vouchers Most Effective Tool to End Family Homelessness: Major Study - A new study found that housing voucher assistance is only slightly more costly than rapid rehousing assistance and significantly less expensive than the assistance given to families in transitional housing or emergency shelters, reinforcing that vouchers provide the most direct and effective way to address family homelessness.
- To Limit Housing Discrimination, Close Affordable Housing Loopholes - Inequities in living conditions contribute to civil strife. That's one motivation behind President Obama's recent announcement to reduce racial housing segregation. The recent Supreme Court ruling and President Obama's focus on housing signals to policy makers that they need to ensure that housing regulations do not disadvantage people of color. But in cities, some affordable housing policies are not sustainable, and are really only affordable for a select few.
- Poverty simulation draws local educators, provides new perspective - About 40 local educators gathered to participate in a poverty simulation as part of the 23rd annual Educational Design Conference being held at St. Lawrence University. Participants were split up into groups and given various scenarios that resemble the lives of people in moderate poverty situations. Each group was allotted money and presented with different obstacles to tackle in an attempt to better understand the difficulties of poverty from a new perspective. The participants were going through what is called the Missouri Community Action Poverty Simulation, a program developed in Missouri as a way to present a perspective on poverty to "people who work with people who are in poverty." Many of the educators found that completing all of their daily tasks during the simulation proves more difficult than they anticipated.
- 30 Percent of Moms Can't Afford Diapers - Infants use about 240 diapers per month. A year's supply of diapers costs $936. That means a single mother mother working full time at the minimum wage can expect to spend 6 percent of her annual pay on Pampers alone. Meanwhile, the two biggest programs that assist low-income mothers, SNAP (food stamps) and WIC, don't cover diapers or baby wipes. That might be why, in a study of 877 pregnant and parenting women published in Pediatrics in 2013, a team of researchers found that needing diapers and not being able to buy them was a leading cause of mental health problems among new moms.
- U.S. expanding internet access to 200k low-income kids - A new program to connect low-income households in public housing with internet access and internet-capable devices announced July 15 will aim particularly at children and include training to help program participants maximize their use of the new devices and technology.
- More children living in poverty now than during recession - A higher percentage of children live in poverty now than did during the Great Recession, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. About 22% of children in the U.S. lived below the poverty line in 2013, compared with 18% in 2008, the foundation's 2015 Kids Count Data Book reported. In 2013, the U.S. Department of Human and Health Service's official poverty line was $23,624 for a family with two adults and two children.
- New Web Application Helps Families Find Summer Meals in Their Communities - USDA/FNS recently launched the Summer Meal Site Finder, a new web and mobile tool that provides the locations and other information on the 45,000 sites across the country registered as participating in the Summer Food Service Program. USDA launched the tool in order to increase participation in the program, with a goal of serving 200 million meals this year. Summer site information is also available by calling the National Hunger Hotline - 1-866-3-HUNGRY (English) or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (Spanish).
- When suburbia "snapped" - The number of suburban SNAP households increased 116 percent from 2007 to 2012, while the number of SNAP households in the nation's largest cities grew 79 percent, according to the Brookings Institution. "The metro Atlanta area had a huge increase [in SNAP participation]," said Margaret Dawe, director of the county's Division of Family and Children Services, and households with children are the largest chunk of SNAP recipients.
- Black children in US are much more likely to live in poverty, study finds - Black children were almost four times as likely as white children to be living in poverty in 2013, a new report has found, the latest evidence that the economic recovery is leaving behind some of the United States' most vulnerable citizens.
- Food Stamps Have a Procurement Problem - Soon, only two companies will make the cards that people get government benefits with. Here's why that matters. As it stands, three companies make the cards for the majority of states, but one of them, JP Morgan Chase, announced last year that it is leaving the marketplace.
- Physicians Order Fewer Preventive Health Services for Women with Medicaid Coverage, Study Finds - Primary care physicians ordered fewer preventive health care services for women who had Medicaid coverage than they did for women who were privately insured, according to a recent study by the Urban Institute, Kaiser Health News reports.
- How to Dramatically Lower the Poverty Rate Overnight - According to a new study by the Brookings Institute, drawn from a recent Urban Institute analysis of data, the poverty rate in 1998 would have been 20 percent lower if all families with children had participated in existing anti-poverty programs for which they were eligible. Deep poverty would have been 70 percent lower. Significant percentages of children and adults eligible for assistance through SNAP, WIC, EITC and free or reduced-price school meals don't take advantage of the help, mainly due to overcoming barriers standing in their way, rather than personal preference or access to church, community or local government services. The report suggests streamlining applications, more outreach, and initiatives like [the Community Eligibility Provision] would help increase program participation.
- Wage Board Holds Final Hearing on Raising the Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers - Ulster County Executive Mike Hein says it's a myth that fast food workers are primarily teenagers looking for spending money at the mall. He says the average age of the estimated 200,000 New Yorkers employed by national fast food chains is 29. He says most have high school diplomas, one third have been to college, and one quarter are parents.
- Every Single County in America Is Facing an Affordable Housing Crisis - The Urban Institute's research shows how the number of extremely low-income households around the nation has grown since 2000. At the same time, federal housing-assistance programs have grown, but not nearly enough to keep up with need. The difference in the availability of affordable housing between 2000 and 2013 is immediately apparent from the maps, especially in states in the South (namely Alabama, Kentucky, and South Carolina), the Midwest (Ohio and Illinois), and the West (Nevada).
- Surging school meal prices puts strain on families - Over the past 11 years, the average price of an elementary school lunch has risen 52 percent, according to FRAC, while the median income of U.S. households decreased 5.4 percent. For families struggling just above the federal poverty level, "that's sometimes a tough lift, if kids are eating two meals at school," said Jim Weill, president of FRAC. Families are struggling to find the money "when salaries for the bottom half of the population have been declining or flat, while housing and medical costs have been going up," said Weill. He added that the solution is to provide free meals to every student, regardless of income.
- State Reminds New Yorkers That Food Assistance Is Available - In New York's Jefferson County, 25 percent of families eligible for SNAP do not receive benefits. The state is working to boost SNAP participation, and mailed cards to households reminding them that assistance is available. "We help them with the application, help them with their documentation together," said Melinda Gault, executive director of the Community Action Planning Council of Jefferson County. SNAP benefits are "good for the economy[,] good for grocery stores, of course good for the family," said Gault.
- Officials Fight To Protect Healthier Food Standards And Programs For Schools - Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) recently announced bipartisan legislation to increase the number of children receiving free summer meals. "Here in New York there are 1.7 million children who rely on [free or reduced-price school meals], yet over the summer barely more than a quarter of our kids have access to [summer] meals," said Gillibrand. Rep. Tonko noted that he has been encouraged to see summer meals combined with education and enhancement programs. Nationally, 31 million low-income students participate in the National School Lunch Program, but only one in seven of them also receive summer meals.
- Many low-income Americans can't even afford to rent - There were only 28 adequate and available to rent homes for every 100 extremely low-income renters in 2013, down from 37 in 2000, according to the Urban Institute, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that focuses on social and economic policy. "This gap between supply and demand leaves 72% of the country's poorest families burdened by the high cost of housing," it found.
- Ford Shifts Grant Making to Focus Entirely on Inequality - The fight against inequality will take center stage at the Ford Foundation under a sweeping overhaul announced today by the nation's second biggest philanthropy. Under that plan, the foundation's grant making supported eight causes: human rights, freedom of expression, democratic and accountable government, economic opportunity, education, sustainable development, sexuality and reproductive health, and social justice.
- What it really means to rely on food stamps and welfare - The number of Americans relying on government aid is a shifting population, similar to the number of Americans living below the poverty line. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation, about a third of SNAP participants from 2009 to 2012 were what the agency considers "short-term program participants, with large numbers of people either moving out of the program within a year of needing the help, or requiring the assistance for stretches amounting to less than a year over a four-year period. The ranks of the poor and those needing assistance grow and decrease with the health of the economy.
- Summer Meals Programs for Poor Children Grow, But Unmet Need Persists - More low-income children ate at federally subsidized summer meals sites in the summer of 2014, continuing a trend in growth in participation that started a few years before, a new report says. During July 2014, the Summer Nutrition Programs served nearly 3.2 million children-an increase of 215,000, or about 7.3 percent from July 2013 says the report, released by the Food Research and Advocacy Center, an advocacy group.
- Food Research and Action Center Reports Nearly 1 in 6 Low-Income Children Receive Summer Meals - More low-income children are eating summer meals, according to a new report released today by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) which showed more than 3.2 million children participated in the Summer Nutrition Programs in July 2014. This represents a seven percent increase over the previous year, and demonstrates what can be done when the federal government, states, and communities make summer food a priority.
- Number of seniors threatened by hunger has doubled since 2001, and it's going to get worse - The number of seniors uncertain about food more than doubled between 2001 and 2013, and in 2013 an additional 300,000 seniors over age 60 had trouble accessing food. In Naples, Florida, charities provide temporary help, but often have waiting lists, and don't address the underlying poverty causing food insecurity. Outreach workers from the Harry Chapin Food Bank target apartments and senior centers to help seniors apply for SNAP. Seniors can be the hardest to reach, said Al Brislain of the Food Bank, "because part of it's pride, part of it's that they don't have the knowledge of the social service system, and part of it is their isolation.
- Hunger in a land of food abundance - It's timely to consider domestic hunger now since we are nearing the season when it is likely to increase. That's because the most successful pathway for delivering food to hungry Americans is through the schools, in the form of the federally subsidized lunch and breakfast programs. When school is out, a lot of kids who depend on free or reduced-price school food wind up going hungry. Nationally, only about 15 percent of the students who qualify for those school programs have access during the summer to a government-subsidized food service program. New York does better than the rest of the country; it is one of five states that manages to get summer lunches to more than one-fourth of the kids who need them.
- Free Lunch: There IS Such a Thing - Five cities in New York State already offer universal free lunch throughout their public school systems: Hempstead, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Poughkeepsie. It has also been implemented in Chicago and Boston-two of the country's biggest cities. "New York City should be leading the national conversation on improving nutrition in public schools, but instead we are falling behind on this critical issue," writes Letitia James, the public advocate for New York City.
- Safety net does more to ease poverty than previously thought, new study finds - In 2012, the SNAP Program (currently the target of Congressional budget cuts) lifted 10.3 million people out of poverty, and lifted 5.2 million people out of deep poverty, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The report also finds that federal safety net programs cut the poverty rate by more than half in 2012, lifting 48 million people - including 12 million children - above the poverty line. The study uses an Urban Institute micro-simulation program which adjusts Census data to "more closely match actual participation" in federal safety net programs.
- House and Senate Budget Agreement Threatens Disaster for Low-Income Families Later This Year – FRAC president Jim Weill said that cuts "specified or implied in the agreement would devastate essential health programs, education investments, child care, nutrition, income, and other supports – resulting in the most vulnerable Americans suffering more hunger and being driven deeper into poverty." The budget also "opens pathways to cuts that, if pursued, would deeply harm SNAP and other key nutrition programs, and the many Americans who rely on them."
- RIC conference puts youth food insecurity in spotlight – “Food insecure children are twice as likely to have health problems,” said Dr. Deborah Frank, professor of child health and well-being at Boston University School of Medicine, speaking at a statewide childhood hunger conference at Rhode Island College. “They are more likely to be hospitalized, to be anemic and to suffer from broken bones.” Dr. Frank said while SNAP benefits help, $1.30 per person per meal is too low. SNAP benefits help 17 percent of Rhode Island families, and 90 percent of eligible people in the state receive benefits.
- Transportation Emerges as Crucial to Escaping Poverty - Commuting problems highlight a central theme for many low-income people trying to build a better life: A lack of reliable and efficient transportation is often a huge barrier. In a large, continuing study of upward mobility based at Harvard, commuting time has emerged as the single strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty. The longer an average commute in a given county, the worse the chances of low-income families there moving up the ladder.
- CT: In Suburban Schools, Student Poverty Growing Faster Than Education Aid - The number of students from poor families attending suburban schools in Connecticut is increasing. "If we keep under-funding communities that have growing poverty, it won't be long before their schools fall behind," said state Sen. Beth Bye, the senate chairmen of the legislature's powerful budget-writing committee.
- New Food Hardship Report - FRAC released today "How Hungry is America?" its latest look at Gallup survey data on food hardship. This report reviews 2014 data for the nation, every state, and 100 of the country's largest MSAs.
- One in six American households (17.2 percent) said in 2014 that there had been times over the past 12 months that they didn't have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed.
- What that means - the economy is improving, but tens of millions of people are still struggling to afford the basics.
- 10 Shocking and Wildly Depressing Facts About Being Homeless in Uncaring America - The figures are both staggering and sobering.
- Fact One. Over half a million people are homeless
- Fact Two. One quarter of homeless people are children
- Fact Three. Tens of thousands of veterans are homeless
- Fact Four. Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness in women
- Fact Five. Many people are homeless because they cannot afford rent
- Fact Six. There are fewer places for poor people to rent than before
- Fact Seven. In the last few years millions have lost their homes
- Fact Eight. The Government does not help as much as you think
- Fact Nine. One in five homeless people suffer from untreated severe mental illness
- Fact Ten. Cities are increasingly making homelessness a crime
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