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Hunger

Did you know that 36 million Americans do not have an adequate amount of food available to them? Or that worldwide, 963 million people (roughly 1 in 7) do not have enough to eat? Hunger is one of the most destructive and widespread problems in the world, primarily affecting those who live in poverty. Every day, roughly 25,000 people die of hunger or hunger-related causes. That’s one person every three and a half seconds.

There are many programs today to help alleviate this issue, but they are often insufficient. Federal programs such as food stamps force families to live on a few meager dollars per day; many countries, such as the US, produce far more than is apparently needed, but those who are struggling for food lack the adequate resources to benefit from this surplus. The current dilemma is that not enough people know that it is such a widespread problem.

But there is hope. With the many organizations, activist efforts, policy advocacy efforts, and programs targeted at the issue, anyone can make an impact in helping to alleviate and eradicate this unfortunate reality. In the time it took you to read this, 13 people died of hunger or hunger-related causes.

What can you do? Check our Resources Page to take action and find more information.

Education

The Working Poor

Perhaps the most debilitating force in the continuation of poverty is the lack of education, which is the primary means for social mobility in society today. This problem is prevalent at all levels of education, from kindergarten to high school to college and beyond.

How does it happen? A lack of adequate teachers in impoverished neighborhoods is one large cause for the abundance of inadequate education. The No Child Left Behind Act mandates that all 50 states have highly qualified teachers in all the core academic subjects; none had fulfilled this. Coupled with this problem is a lack of proper guidance counselors—in some schools, the counselor-to-student ratio is upwards of 1:1000. Not surprisingly, the dropout rate for students in urban areas ridden with poverty is under 50%.

  1. Among the strongest predictors of student failure on the state tests were the proportion of uncertified teachers and a measure of teacher shortage.

  2. -- Prof. Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford School of Education


And the problem does not end there. At the top 146 colleges in the US, 75% of the students are from the top economic quartile, while only 3% are from the lowest, set at $27,000. Those who live below the poverty line are even fewer in number. Worse, only 52% of those from the lowest economic quartile attend college at all in the US, compared to 80% of those from the highest quartile. Of those who do manage to get into college, many don’t attend simply because they cannot pay for it

These problems of education are just as much the result of poverty as they are the cause of it. In this way, it is a cycle that perpetuates poverty. However, there are various efforts currently that are attempting to change this. Get involved, take action, get the word out!

What can you do? Check out our Resources Page to take action and find more information.

You’ve heard it before: the “working poor,” those who maintain constant jobs but still live at or below the poverty line in the US. In 2003, there were 7.4 million people who were considered to be “working poor,” a trend that has been increasing over the years—today, some estimates say that as much as one fourth of the workforce lives below the poverty line. 2.8 million families live within 100% of the poverty line.

What does this mean? The working poor often has

  1. a wage below what they should have for a job

  2. poor working conditions

  3. job instability

  4. overworking

  5. multiple full-time or part-time jobs


One of the most frequent causes for this is a lack of education: 14% of the working poor have no high school diploma or equivalent; 30% have only a high school diploma; 21% have some postsecondary education but no degree; and only 38% have a two-year degree or higher. Low minimum wages, a lack of unionization (little leverage over wages), globalization (competition with those who work for less), and more problems all help to perpetuate the status of the working poor.

The reasons behind this issue are truly at the heart of poverty in America and the world. The working poor are most frequently the least socially mobile, and the political efficacy of this constituency is too low to effect policy change—only about 40% of them vote in major elections. However, there is much work going on to change this reality, and plenty of work can be done by the average citizen.

Want to get involved? Check our Resources Page to take action and find more information.

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