Archives for posts with tag: poverty

Kirsten sent The New Face of Hunger.  This month’s National Geographic features food around the world.  This article focuses on hunger in the USA.

Watch the video It’s Not Enough.  It could have made me cry.  To see people struggling to provide for their children, humbly doing so, ignoring the embarrassment.  Eminently decent parents.

I had a bowl of ice cream tonight after dinner.  It sure tasted good.

Today hunger in the suburbs is growing faster than in cities, having more than doubled since 2007.

For dinner tonight we had grilled chicken thighs, salad and whole wheat tortillas.  Yummy.

The root problem is the lack of jobs that pay wages a family can live on, so food assistance has become the government’s—and society’s—way to supplement low wages.

If I wanted, I could walk over to the fridge, the cupboard, and find something eat.  The only times in years I’ve felt hungry is when I’m too busy.  But the food’s there.  I can eat when I want.

But most of the working poor don’t have the time or know-how required to eat well on little. Often working multiple jobs and night shifts, they tend to eat on the run. Healthful food can be hard to find in so-called food deserts—communities with few or no full-service groceries. Jackie Christian didn’t resort to feeding her sons fried gizzards because it was affordable but because it was easy. Given the dramatic increase in cheap fast foods and processed foods, when the hungry have money to eat, they often go for what’s convenient, just as better-off families do.

Fried gizzards?

Those priorities are reflected at the grocery store, where the price of fresh food has risen steadily while the cost of sugary treats like soda has dropped. Since the early 1980s the real cost of fruits and vegetables has increased by 24 percent. Meanwhile the cost of nonalcoholic beverages—primarily sodas, most sweetened with corn syrup—has dropped by 27 percent.

So what is the problem, why do so many Americans, 1 in 6, struggle with food insecurity?

‘We’ve created a system that’s geared toward keeping overall food prices low but does little to support healthy, high-quality food,’ says global food expert Raj Patel. ‘The problem can’t be fixed by merely telling people to eat their fruits and vegetables, because at heart this is a problem about wages, about poverty.’

Time for bed.  I will not go to bed hungry tonight.

“We’re not starved around here,” she says one morning as she mixes up powdered milk for her daughter. “But some days, we do go a little hungry.”

food insecurity




Kennedy Odede has made one of the most compelling statements I’ve heard in discussions on urban poverty, violence, hopelessness.

The urban poor are so close to the city’s opportunities — but they always remain out of reach.

I’ve tended to think in categories of developed and developing worlds.  North American and the now outdated term ‘third world’.  American and everywhere-else worlds.  Poverty is relative, dependent on these large geographic and socio-economic distinctions.  Sure, poverty exists in Chicago but compared with Kibura

But what if the categories today are urban and non-urban?

Odede points at poverty lived in places where a person can see how others live in contrast to their life.  So close yet so distant.  In our most densely populated places, our cities.

A 2011 study in the Journal of Peace Research found that the perpetuation of Islamist extremism was more significantly associated with urban poverty than with variables like religiosity, lack of education and income dissatisfaction.

During the late 20th century children grew up in public housing high-rises in Chicago within blocks, even within sight of life lived out by some of the most affluent Chicagoans.  Cabrini-Green and the Gold Coast.  Henry Horner Homes and streams of Blackhawks and Bulls fans on Madison Street.  It would have been cruel reminders if not for getting used to it.  But at times most became aware of the gulf between their trapped existence and one that they eventually came to accept was unattainable.

Gail and I saw boys and girls starting to realize this around age twelve.  I wonder, is there a correlation between this realization and that of the Santa exposé?

They still remained boys and girls.  But whenever this realization took place a somber quality entered their boyishness and girlishness.  They began a journey to a reality of inner city adulthood.

There is a story in the Gospel of Luke of a rich man and a poor man.  The poor man lay suffering at the gate of the rich man who feasted daily.  Watching and wishing for the food which dropped from the table.  The poor man dies, angels carry him to be with Abraham.  The rich man dies and tormented in Hades sees far away the poor man with Abraham.  Pleading, he receives no relief.  Why?  Justice. And an immutable condition:  between you and us a great chasm has been fixed.   There is no movement between Abraham and Hades (Luke 16:26).

Distance plays in this story.  The sumptuous table within sight of the hungry.   Comfort seen by the damned, yet far away.

Recently I posted the New York Times story of Dasani, a girl living with her family in one of New York’s homeless shelters.  Located in Brooklyn five blocks from a $1.63 million penthouse.  A neighborhood of $3 malt liquor in a deli across the street from $740 chardonnay at Gnarly Vines.

Poverty makes a second hit on those who do not have what they see others with.  Living in want comes with its own exhaustion and anxieties.  But a smoldering pain comes with seeing the sumptuous banquet from the gate.  Wealth made conspicuous on the street, the TV screen.  It also brings the danger of coveting which can lead to a host of rather unpleasant outcomes.

Coveting inoculation.  My mother enjoys recounting her young boy’s Sunday church recitation of the Bible verse be content with what you have (Hebrews 13:5).  Can it be done?  Somehow we must for the sake of our own soul.

But woe unto any who put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea  (Matthew 18:6).

It’s quite a contrast to make during these recent days of opinions on the 50th anniversary of America’s war on poverty.  Odede says that the best strategy in Kenya is to fight poverty.

Instead of investing billions of dollars on drones, let’s focus on augmenting economic opportunities and providing basic and essential services like health care and education.

And in America?  It may not be as in Kenya, terrorist groups recruiting young people from slums.  Other scenarios of hopelessness play out in our cities when there seems only one option.

Movement was needed, in the here and now, between the rich man and the poor man.  Movement here and now.  It’s not too late for either the poor or the rich.

War on poverty  pencil sketch

Today’s New York Times features the 50th anniversary of the ‘war on poverty’.

Check out this interactive map on where and how much poverty in America.


Here’s a little more on the living wage debate.

I ordered it without onions but guess what?

I ordered it without onions but guess what?

I found today’s St Louis PostDispatch article  $15 minimum wage:  Fairness or a job killer? helpful in presenting both sides of the issue.  Would an increase in wage result in a decrease in jobs?  Perhaps not, according to a study by Andrajit Dube.  But that is countered by David Neumark’s conclusion that a 10% increase would result in 1 – 3% reduction in employment for those earning the least.  Both Dube and Neumark are economists in the University of California system.  Go figure.

I really do not like the comments posted for this Post-Dispatch article.  Pretty much ugly and an Ebenezer Scrooge socio-economic analysis of poverty.   Those of us who have personally and extensively worked with low income families and in their neighborhoods have come to realize the enormously complex and wearying challenges they face.  Helps us from making too many ignorant opinionated comments.

At this point I am tending to suspect there is merit to raising the minimum wage.  If Neumark is correct, it would give me more reason to pass up my occasional McDonalds cheeseburgers.  no onions, please.

Oh, also take a look at the side bar articles –

A wide gap in pay limits the ability of poorer and middle-income Americans to improve their living standards, the economists say. About 80 percent of stock market wealth is held by the richest 10 percent of Americans. That means the stock market’s outsize gains this year have mostly benefited the already affluent.


A few weeks ago I posted about how much a McDonalds hamburger is worth.  Here’s a nicely stated post from Raw Discourse on the subject of living wage and the poor.

Job Worries Hit Low-Income Families the Hardest or Why Poor People Will Work For Such Low Wages.

The WordPress powers have interceded and my blog is now restored.  Thank you.

Here’s some of the facts and a little bit of the human story on the federal government’s reduction in SNAP (food stamps) this month reported today by Kim Severson and Winnie Hu of the New York Times.

d36caf50-bcdf-4b55-b8ad-97276cbbd7ceToday I was in Marion IL visiting our Salvation Army center that serves the southern part of Illinois.  Cindy Cowgur runs our operations there and she tells me that somewhere between 400-500 families will receive Christmas assistance just in Williamson County.  And that about 70 families each month now receive a bag of groceries there.  I don’t know the numbers, but families in 21 additional southern Illinois counties will also receive Salvation Army Christmas food.

I didn’t have time to talk with Cindy about the effect this SNAP reduction will have.  But I’m sure it will soon be felt.

Take two minutes to watch the video in the Severson and Hu article.  Compare the current Congress’ desire to reduce SNAP with a rise in the US poverty rate.  What to expect?  Cindy and her staff are going to have more monthly visitors.  Soon.

Matt A. and Bill W. on Facebook have contributed and commented on this post.  Bill shared a CNBC video ‘fast food workers worth $15/hour?’

A good point:  fast food jobs can and do offer entry level experience for young people and people new to the USA. Read the rest of this entry »

How much is a McDonald’s hamburger worth to you?

no onions, please

no onions, please

Would you be willing to pay more for that Quarter Pounder with Cheese, for that Dollar Menu McDouble, if it meant that half of McDonald’s employees could stop receiving public assistance?

If so, it would mean saving local, state and federal governments the estimated 1.2 billion dollars they annually give to employees of the Oak Brook IL based corporation, the world’s largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants.  It would also mean that McDonald’s employees receiving public aid would not be affected by today’s federal reduction of the SNAP program, what we commonly call food stamps.

Controversy:  living wages and unions for fast food workers.

No controversy:  work for a fast food chain and you have a fifty-fifty chance that you will qualify for, that you will need public assistance.

Micah Challenge USA is suggesting that we contact our Congressman in early July to ask their support in resisting a proposed “disproportionately large” cut to poverty-focused development aid.

We have been hearing a lot about community development in recent years.  It speaks to me and my vision for any of us who work in suffering communities, how we can work for long-term (even eternal?) outcomes.  take-a-stand

Do you and your team want to learn what you can do?  Check out Micah Challenge’s Take Action page.

Have you signed the letter being sent to our next President asking him to stand up for those in extreme poverty?

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