National Poverty in America Awareness Month
January 12, 2018
The poverty line is the estimate of the minimum level of income needed for basic life necessities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s report, 40.6 million people in the country lived under the poverty line in 2016, a third of them children. While it was the second year in a row of a decrease in the poverty rate, that number is still too high. January is National Poverty in America Awareness Month, so it’s time to think of what you can do to make sure the poverty rate goes down every year.
There are several ways the government could address poverty, but it takes your voice to make it happen! You can write to your Congressional representatives about your support for:
- Granting employees more stability and predictability for their work schedules. Low wage jobs often have constantly changing shifts, which can be a challenge for families and single parents who are already struggling to make ends meet.
- Paid leave and paid sick days. The U.S. is the only developed country that doesn’t offer it, although individual states are beginning to. Not having paid sick leave can pose an issue for families that must sacrifice necessary income to attend to their health or care for a sick child.
- Pay equity. We’ve heard that on average, women make 79 cents for every dollar men make. However, it doesn’t acknowledge that the gap is even wider for women of color, or that men of color have their own wage gaps. Pay equity for everyone would bring many families out of poverty.
Poverty is a complicated social problem that can’t be solved by individuals, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways for you to help fight against it in your communities, or to support those living in poverty.
- Support access to quality education. Education and poverty are tied up in an unfortunate cycle. Children who come from impoverished homes face more challenges in school, especially in underfunded schools. If they don’t succeed or can’t afford college, it means those who grow up in poverty are likely to stay in poverty. But you can support low-income students by:
- Creating or supporting afterschool meal programs.
- Establishing libraries or donating books in underserved areas, and promoting summer reading programs— low-income students are shown to lose reading skills over the summer while their high-income peers improve.
- Donating school supplies to children in need.
- Donate necessity items. Collect food, clothing, toiletries, first-aid items, diapers, blankets, furniture, and more items that we take for granted and give them to shelters and local organizations in your community where they will be put to good use.
This month, spread awareness of the poverty problem we have in our country, and together with your club you can advocate for change and make change of your own.
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When Sarina Rose isn’t quilting blankets for local hospitals or wheelchair bags for nursing homes, she’s typing away at her computer, lost in a world of vintage romance. The GFWC Melbourne Woman’s Club (Florida) member is the author of three books in “The Relentless Series”.
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