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January is Poverty in America Awareness Month

17 January 2013
Written by Lisa Klingbeil
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poverty-in-americaOften on TV we see images of starving adults and children in 3rd world countries, and may be moved to action through a donation to agencies trying to serve those foreign needs.

But the reality is that we have citizens in our own country, particularly children, who are living in poverty and cannot afford the basics of food and shelter.

These are the cold, hard facts in 2011:

  • The nation's official poverty rate in 2011 was 15.9 percent, with 46.2 million people living in poverty
  • 21.9% of children under the age of 18 lived in poverty
  • 31.2% of families with a female head of household lived in poverty
  • Beyond that, 50.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households – meaning they cannot consistently provide adequate nutrition for their members

The stereotype family receiving assistance from a local food pantry may not be what you imagine. These people look like you and I! He or she may be between jobs, a disabled veteran, or underemployed and unable to provide a consistent food supply for their family. The average American makes about 8% less income than in 2007.

How can you help? Here are some ideas:

  • Organize a community food drive and donate it to your local food pantry
  • If you like to garden, call around to see if local agencies would be interested in receiving your fresh produce
  • Monetary donations even in small amounts add up to big impact
  • Volunteer your time to help sort and distribute items to those in need

A local favorite of mine is Loaves & Fishes (http://www.loaves-fishes.org/).

Call around and get involved!