"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 June 28, 2015
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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