Thursday, September 23, 2010

The U.S. Census and The List

The United States census is critically important for a number of broad and varied reasons. On top of attempting to enumerate the population of the United States, the Census also provides extensive economic data. In the best of situations the Census mobilizes beneficial changes but in one instance its data fails in drawing sufficient bold and transformative trajectories.

In particular recent data shows poverty figures are increasing and reveal a measure of past failed policies in eliminating poverty in the nation. Past measures include for example linking the nation’s farm bills with food stamps but we all know not all hungry individuals are permitted food stamps. Honestly when the USDA changed the term “hungry” and replaced it with “food insufficiency” unnecessary battle lines generated further angst for activists seeking to eliminate the hunger that plagues the most vulnerable such as the elderly and children.

While not one individual -- particularly children -- should ever confront poverty and hunger, the figures underscore an essential emphasis. Specifically poverty and its attendant harm crosses race, class and gendered lines, yet the recent news of poverty in the Latina/o community dismays. The total figures emphasize that all such circumstances must be eliminated completely from the nation. Any ideas?

I have a list but as a start poverty with its attendant harm renders imperative our continued and collective vigilance in eradicating all heinous impoverishment figures from the nation’s economic base.


  1. I remember volunteering for the Atlanta Food Bank close to the holidays. The employees were worried because the number of donations had drastically dropped and they wanted to ensure they could provide food to all of the families. This was right before the economy took a turn for the worst.

    Given the current economy it is even harder for people to donate because the extra that the donors had in the past may not currently exist. But people can donate time, ideas, encouragement, and more. Additionally, donations may not be the best course of action. Some people need to be taught skills, given job opportunities, go back to school, etc. Implementing programs that include the aforementioned alternatives may aid in eliminating poverty from the nation. This is because people are not just given a one time donation of food and/or clothing, but gain something that will continuously keep them out of poverty because of the new job they received due to learning a new skill, the financial seminar that taught them how to balance their budget or start a new business, and more.

  2. No child should go without eating and I feel very strongly that people should not have more children if they can not provide for the children that they already have, or even, themselves.

    Last semester in Constitutional Law, I remember briefing a case regarding Federal Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). The case explained how [Maryland] computes the standard of need for each eligible family based on (1) the number of children in the family and (2) the circumstances under which the family lives. Interestingly, the standard of need increased with each additional person in the household, but the increments became proportionately smaller. The appellee's argued that the regulation was unfair to their larger families. It was obvious that the appellee's standards of need substantially exceeded the maximum grants that they received under the regulation.

    I couldn't agree more with Maryland's justification of its regulation. The state was trying to encourage gainful employment, maintain an equitable balance in economic status as between welfare families and those supported by a wage-earner, and providing incentives for family planning.

    I believe providing free education on life management skills and family planning methods are extremely important in this economy. Instead of food donations, maybe someone concerned about child hunger could volunteer at a planned parenthood office, donate various forms of contraceptives or provide financing for life management skills in the community.

  3. DoreenR. FIU

    Hunger is such a pervasive and widespread problem it often seems like one best delegated to large organizations. However, there are grass root efforts that can make a difference in your community and every individual can help.

    Every day, individual households throw away edible and nutritious food. At the same time, restaurants discard hot, unserved meals and farmers, food suppliers and food conglomerates waste good food. All this while the young, old and mentally ill in our population are hungry.

    Food that is wasted most frequently is perishable food that has only a short window to make it to someone's table. In California, the Ag Against Hunger group has joined farmers and local produce growers with food banks to efficiently and quickly divert surplus food that would otherwise spoil, to food banks. This puts real, nutritious, fresh food on the tables of those who need it most. It is an effective venture sharing an average of 10,000,000 pounds of food a year with local food banks.

    Not interested in starting the next non-profit food cooperative? Individuals can make a difference, too.

    Donate surplus food from catered events, office parties and holidays to your local food bank. They are happy to take it. When eating out, see if the restaurant that you frequent donates excess food to local food banks. If not, tell them about the local Good Samaritan law that may allow them to donate with protection from liability. Use your food dollars to influence how your vendors and suppliers participate in the hunger crisis. Donate excess food in your pantry to the local food bank during the summer months when food supplies are at their lowest.

    I agree with my colleague that the poor would benefit from education. The wealthy could also benefit from education about the poor. The goal would be to soften the question of why to help and ignite the question of how we can help.

    35.9 million Americans live below the poverty line including 12.9 million children
    Almost 100 billion pounds of food are wasted in America each year
    Requests for food assistance are on the rise - 40% of those are from working families.
    Suburbs are home to fastest growing and largest poor population in the U.S.

    *Source: Statistics of poverty & Food Wastage in America by Samantha Siddiqi
    America’s Face Evolves, 2008

  4. Like a domino affect, the U.S. is falling apart. First, the U.S. decided that we were under an immigration crisis (many articles on this site refer to it as such). Tightening our borders has caused the influx of immigrants to reduce signifigantly. This reduction caused the labor market to suffer and pushed educated people with families into low paying jobs. (if they were even able to secure one). Now families are facing the type of problems that this article mentions. Until this country can get back on it's feet the best thing to do is help one another.


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