By Kid Reporter JANAYA WILDER, age 12 and IndyKids Staff

A child walking on the streets of Waterbury, Connecticut. Many children there were affected by the construction jobs that their parents lost. PHOTO: Spencer Platt/iStockPhoto
A child walking on the streets of Waterbury, Connecticut. Many children there were affected by the construction jobs that their parents lost. PHOTO: Spencer Platt/iStockPhoto

What Does it Mean to Live in Poverty in the United States?

Poverty doesn’t necessarily mean living on the street. A person experiencing poverty doesn’t have a socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions. Someone in absolute poverty is not able to meet their basic needs: such as clothes, a home, food, education or medical care. In 2011, the government defined poverty as a family of four living on less than $22,350 a year.

Millions of American families are going hungry and homeless, without medical care and warm clothes. Poverty is on the rise and spreading quickly throughout all 50 states. Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan professor who specializes in poverty studies, told the Associated Press, “If Congress and the states make further cuts [to government programs], we can expect the number of poor and low-income families to rise for the next several years”.

New York City, home to many of the world’s biggest banks and corporations, is also home to 1.5 million people in poverty and an organization called City Harvest. They rescue extra food from restaurants, and, using 18 trucks and three bicycles, provide food to over 300,000 hungry New Yorkers each week.

PHOTO: American Library of Congress
Photo: American Library of Congress

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Advocate for the Poor

As a leader and activist, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. helped to organize the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968 to address economic injustice in the United States, and to figure out ways to help poor people of all races get out of poverty. A home and a job with a decent wage were things that he felt all people deserved.


Numbers:

  • Almost half of all Americans are considered to be in poverty or low-income.
  • One in every three people in poverty are children under the age of 18.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau


Take Action Against Poverty!

  • Ask your neighborhood restaurants to donate left-over food to homeless shelters or other organizations, like your local food bank, that fight hunger and poverty.
  • Send letters to politicians, demanding more funding for the poor. Make a petition and collect signatures to include with your letter.
  • Organize a literature table at school to inform other kids about poverty.
  • Read the IndyKids article,¬†Helping Homeless Kids in Lexington, Kentucky for one idea to help homeless kids.
  • Learn more about the conditions of all people in your community.