In the United States 45 percent of children under 18 – 32.4 million – live in low-income families.
About this Publication
Surprisingly, working does not seem to help a low-income person avoid chronic food insecurity. We found that neither working nor accessing government benefits has a meaningful impact on the odds that a person will need long-term food assistance – that is, a recurrent visit to the food pantry to receive bags of free food. In fact, those people who work are more likely to have sacrificed food to pay for other life necessities. For the poor, working makes it harder to put food on the table, not easier.
Government benefits do not seem to provide an adequate food safety net, and non-profits are experiencing increased pressure to fill the gap. The policy ramifications of these findings are clear. First, while this study can not be broadly generalized beyond this population, the findings suggest that policies encouraging work among the poor should recognize the standard of living for these individuals may become less stable, rather than more so, as a result of gaining employment. To more fully understand this relationship, a longitudinal analysis of employment and food assistance data should be undertaken. Second, if we wish to maintain the government responsibility to alleviate hunger in our country, benefits for eligible citizens must be increased or food assistance non-profits need greater government support. Otherwise we should face the fact that as an undeclared public policy, our society tolerates hunger.
Hunger Research Facts
The current official poverty measure was developed in the early 1960s and only a few minor changes have been implemented since it was first adopted in 1965. The poverty threshold represents the cost of a minimum food diet in 1963 multiplied by three to allow for expenditures on other goods and services. It is updated annually based on the consumer price index to account for inflation. Family resources are defined as before-tax money income.
The median household income in North Carolina is $46,291 per year.
Current research suggests that, on average, families need an income of about twice the federal poverty level just to afford basic expenses.
- Page 0