"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 May 11, 2015
- 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.
- District ranks fourth in hunger risk for seniors, report says - A new national report on food insecurity among older Americans conducted by two university researchers on behalf of the nonprofit National Foundation to End Senior Hunger and the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities - says nearly 15.5 percent of elders, or 9.6 million people, in the United States face the threat of hunger. That number has increased dramatically in recent years: Between 2001 and 2013, those elders who faced some threat of food insecurity climbed 45 percent, the report says. The problem is most pervasive in the South and Southwest and among racial and ethnic minorities.
- Better breakfast, better grades - A new study from the University of Iowa reports that students attending schools participating in the School Breakfast Program have higher scores in math, science and reading than students in schools not offering the program. "These results suggest that the persistent exposure to the relatively more nutritious breakfast offered through the subsidized breakfast program throughout elementary school can yield important gains in achievement," said David Frisvold, researcher and assistant professor of economics at the Tippie College of Business. The study also found that the longer the school participated in the School Breakfast Program, the higher the students achieved.
- Household food insecurity is positively associated with depression among low-income Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants and income-eligible nonparticipants - The odds of depressive symptoms increase as the severity of food insecurity increases, according to a study in the Journal of Nutrition.
- Influence of maternal depression on household food insecurity for low-income families - According to a longitudinal study published in Academic Pediatrics, maternal depression is an independent risk factor for household food insecurity in low-income families with young children.
- Poverty-level wages cost U.S. taxpayers $153 billion every year - While the U.S. economy rebounds, persistent low wages are costing taxpayers approximately $153 billion every year in public support to working families, including $25 billion at the state level, according to a new report from the University of California, Berkeley, Center for Labor Research and Education. The report details for the first time the state-by-state cost to taxpayers of low wages in the United States. On average, 52 percent of state public assistance spending supports working families, with costs as high as $3.7 billion in California, $3.3 billion in New York and $2 billion in Texas.
- New brain science shows poor kids have smaller brains than affluent kids - New research that shows poor children have smaller brains than affluent children has deepened the national debate about ways to narrow the achievement gap.Neuroscientists who studied the brain scans of nearly1,100 children and young adults nationwide from ages 3 to 20 found that the surface area of the cerebral cortex was linked to family income. They discovered that the brains of children in families that earned less than $25,000 a year had surface areas 6 percent smaller than those whose families earned $150,000 or more. The poor children also scored lower on average on a battery of cognitive tests.
- These devastating videos shatter every stereotype about the homeless - Exploring this disconnect between what people think of the homeless and what they actually are, come a series of vignettes that deliver a devastating portrayal of modern homelessness. The subjects in these videos, produced by a Canadian non-profit called Raise the Roof, couldn't be more different than smelly, drug-addicted bums. These are people of all ages and races, lucid of thought and well-dressed. They're emotionally wrought over their situation, but also over what some people think of them.
- Working, but Needing Public Assistance Anyway - A home health care worker in Durham, N.C.; a McDonald's cashier in Chicago; a bank teller in New York; an adjunct professor in Mayfield, Ill. They are all evidence of an improving economy, because they are working and not among the steadily declining ranks of the unemployed. Yet these same people also are on public assistance - relying on food stamps, Medicaid or other stretches of the safety net to help cover basic expenses when their paychecks come up short.
- Schools becoming the 'last frontier' for hungry kids - The number of dinners served in schools is growing, and "[i]t is the last frontier" in meeting the nutrition needs of children, said Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center.
- Advocates Release Nine-Point Plan for Cuomo and de Blasio to End Homelessness - Activists and politicians laid out an aggressive nine-point plan they argued de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo could implement to stem the growing homeless population by the decade's end.
- 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.
- There's not one state that is free from hunger. Even the "best" state on the report's Food Hardship Index, North Dakota, has one in eleven households struggling to afford enough food. Nine states have more than one in five households struggling.
- Minority families struggle to break out of poverty, study finds - A study of Census data by the Working Poor Families Project shows that 44 percent of California families headed by a working minority parent are low-income, compared to 16 percent of white families. Researchers wrote in the report that minorities are more likely to work in low-paying jobs, and that "lack of work effort" is not the reason for the disparity for minorities. Low paying jobs offer little growth opportunity, few benefits and unusual work hours, and these factors complicate child care and transportation, according to the report.
- How inequality harms health - and the economy - Recent research from UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health finds that when inequality is very large, it can lower economic growth, and income inequality is associated with health inequality. The researchers write that lower income is associated with "high levels of stress, exhaustion, cardiovascular disease, lower life expectancy and obesity," and that these health effects on parents also show up in their children.
- The Middle Class Has Gotten Smaller In Every State Since 2000 - The percentage of middle class households between 2000 and 2013 dropped in every state, and median income also fell during the same period, reports the Pew Charitable Trust's Stateline blog. The largest declines were in Wisconsin, North Dakota, Nevada and New Mexico. Middle class wages have not caught up with the rising costs of child care, tuition and hospital visits, while higher-earning individuals are making more money each year. According to the Stateline analysis, a greater percentage of households in many states pay at least 30 percent of their total income on housing, an indicator of housing affordability.
- Congress' food stamp cuts neglect poor Americans - The SNAP Program is designed to respond to economic changes, with enrollment increasing during a down economy, and decreasing as the economy improves. "Making SNAP a block grant would eliminate this feature, force states to reduce benefits and cause millions of America's most vulnerable to go hungry," writes an anti-hunger advocate in this letter to the editor. Lawmakers are forgetting that SNAP primarily assists children, seniors, disabled people and veterans, and ignoring the program's positive effects on child nutrition and health, as well as its high accuracy and very low fraud rate.
- When Your Occupation Is Poverty - The most common occupations in the U.S. are among the worst paying, according to an Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A third of the workforce - 45 million Americans working in the lowest-paying occupations - would not make enough to keep them and two children above twice the poverty line, even if their spouse worked 30 hours a week in the same occupation. Should one parent get laid off or experience another crisis, the family is left little financial support. For food prep workers, who make the lowest wages, 70 hours of work at the median wage brings in only $32,218 a year, 132 percent of poverty.
- Poverty spreading among minorities in upstate cities - Since the last U.S. Census in 2010, child poverty rates have steadily increased in New York. A recent report by the Citizen Committee of Children for New York show child poverty rates are at more than 50 percent in the areas between Buffalo and Newburgh.
- State leaders agree to $440M package to address homelessness crisis - The budget "will prevent thousands of individuals and children from entering the homeless shelter system," said Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, the Queens Democrat who chairs the chamber's Social Services committee.
- CBO: Food stamp cuts would hit poorest the hardest - Those Americans making the lowest incomes would be hit hardest by current Congressional proposals to cut the SNAP Program budget, with families making less than $15,000 a year losing $600 a year in SNAP benefits, according to a new study from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The report shows how harmful SNAP cuts would be, say House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), who asked CBO for the study. "We cannot continue attempting to balance a budget on the backs of the most vulnerable while providing giveaways to the richest amongst us," said Lee in a statement.
- Cities are becoming more affluent while poverty is rising in inner suburbs - and that has implications for schools - A University of Virginia study analyzing demographic changes in 66 cities from 1990 to 2012 found that the inner suburbs are seeing rising poverty rates. The poverty rate was high in the District in 1990, and fell in the suburbs; by 2012, city center poverty was lower, but higher in the inner suburbs, and dropped again in the outer suburbs. The number of students eligible for free or reduced-price school meals - which often mirrors poverty rates - in Montgomery County, Maryland (an affluent suburb of D.C.) increased from 29 percent in 2009 to 35 percent in 2012.
- Agencies urge use of new measure in weighing poverty - Created in 2011 by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) shows that child poverty rates would nearly double without national and local anti-poverty programs, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Kids Count are urging policymakers to use SPM in addition to the official poverty numbers. Without government programs, the child poverty rate would increase from 18 percent to 33 percent, and in Rhode Island the rate would increase from 16 percent to 33 percent. "[SPM] shows the importance of preserving and strengthening anti-poverty programs that are decreasing child poverty and improving the lives of thousands of Rhode Island's children and families," said Elizabeth Burke Bryant, executive director of Rhode Island Kids Count.
- The astonishing state-by-state rise in food stamp reliance - According to new Census Bureau figures, the share of households receiving SNAP benefits grew from 6.2 percent in 2000 to 13.5 in 2013; one in 16 Americans received benefits in 2000, and now one in eight receive assistance. Wisconsin, Nevada, Michigan and Massachusetts saw SNAP household use more than triple by 2013. Oregon's share of households on the program climbed to 19.8 percent, followed by Mississippi's 19.4 percent. The highest rates of SNAP reliance occur in southern states.
- The extracurricular gap - Income-based differences in extracurricular participation are growing, and these differences greatly affect later outcomes, writes Alia Wong in The Atlantic Monthly. The disparity exacerbates the achievement gap that is keeping poor children behind in school and life. While upper- and middle-class students have become more active in school clubs and sports teams over the past four decades, working-class peers "have become increasingly disengaged and disconnected," particularly since their participation started plummeting in the '90s, according to a recent study in Voices in Urban Education.
- More Low-Income Children Eating School Breakfast, Report Says - An average of 11.2 million low-income children ate school breakfasts daily during the 2013-14 school year, an increase of 320,000 children from the previous year.
- More Low-Income Children Eating School Breakfast, Report Says - An average of 11.2 million low-income children ate school breakfasts daily during the 2013-14 school year, an increase of 320,000 children from the previous year, a report released Tuesday says. Also that year, a higher percentage of low-income children who participated in school lunch programs also ate school breakfasts than in the previous year, says the School Breakfast Scorecard by the Food Research and Action Center.
- How big food brands are boosting profits by targeting the poor - Several of America's largest food manufacturers have been shifting their retail strategy, selling less of their packaged foods in traditional grocery stores and more of those foods in dollar and discount stores.Dollar stores have been the rare exception-food sales at discount stores have greatly outpaced their higher priced counterparts, prompting chains like Dollar Tree to add more room for food products. In order to offer the facade of affordability, manufacturers like Kraft are selling food in smaller packages. These granola bars, sauces, cereals, and prepared meals look like they cost less, but actually are far more expensive on a per ounce basis.
- 5 Facts That Show Half of America Is Seriously Struggling - Half of our nation, by all reasonable estimates of human need, is in poverty. The jubilant headlines above speak for people whose view is distorted by growing financial wealth. The argument for a barely surviving half of America has been made before, but important new data is available to strengthen the case.
- The Shockingly Low Wages We Pay People Who Look After the Elderly - Many home health aides love their job, but can't make ends meet. And we can't expect to recruit one million new home health aides-or workers in any service sector-for the mentally and physically demanding jobs they're needed for, if we're going to pay them peanuts and then deride them for needing food stamps to survive.
- The industry that charges low-income Americans to fix credit errors they can fix themselves for free - The industry has capitalized on the aftermath of a financial crash that has left many lower working-class people struggling to pay bills despite the broader economic recovery. Lenders have tightened standards since the Great Recession, increasing the importance of one's credit score, a three-digit number that reflects a history of paying back bills on time over seven years.
- End Child Poverty - The Children's Defense Fund released a groundbreaking report, Ending Child Poverty Now, with a road map for reducing child poverty by 60 percent, Black child poverty by 72 percent, and bettering the economic circumstances of 97 percent of all poor children.
- Hunger Action Network has a new director - The Hunger Action Network of New York State has named Susan Zimet as their new executive director. She is replacing Mark Dunlea, who has worked for the organization since 1985.
- 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
Branch Homepage - Public Policy Issues to Watch