The New Census Data is Unacceptable
September 16, 2010 § 1 Comment
I read the new Census report about poverty (released this morning) and felt several things at once: extreme disappointment, sorrow and shame.
More than four million people in Texas live below the poverty line. The poverty line for a family of four in Texas is $22,050. Let’s break it down… that’s about $460 a week. Think of suddenly waking up tomorrow to that reality. What would go through your mind? I can tell you what might go through mine: “How am I supposed to pay rent, send my kids to pre-school, pay my car note, buy gas, pay the utility bill and pay the water bill?”
Did you notice what’s missing from this grim scenario? A critically important consideration –“How am I going to feed my family – my kids?”
This is a nightmare reality for millions of Texans. I’m extremely disappointed about it, and you should be too.
I think about a classroom of 32 children. Class begins at 10 a.m. The teacher tells them it’s time for a pop-quiz to see if they understood last night’s homework. Some eagerly pick up their pencils. Some look nervous. Some groan and roll their eyes.
Eight of those kids might be reeling from the physical pangs of hunger because they live in a household in which hunger is a fact of life. Their families exist on $460 a week.
Though the kids didn’t have dinner the night before, they decide to skip free school breakfast because they don’t want to sit where the other poor kids congregate. For these eight, avoiding breakfast is an acceptable alternative to being stigmatized for being from a poor family.
They’re hungry, and they can’t concentrate. They fail the quiz.
More than a quarter of our kids live in poverty in a state ranked number two for its rate of child hunger. This saddens me.
The Capital Area Food Bank of Texas provides emergency food assistance to 48,000 hungry central Texans a week through our Partner Agencies. Nearly 20,000 of our clients are children. I am extremely proud to be the leader of an organization working so hard to meet these needs.
But we should be ashamed to be residents of a state with such miserable poverty and hunger statistics. This is unacceptable.
Let’s transform our disappointment, sorrow, and shame into meaningful action – let’s cultivate optimism. Urge your legislators at all levels of government to safeguard and strengthen policies and programs lifting people out of poverty, and improve policies and programs to eliminate hunger.
We have a responsibility to uphold the dignity of individuals, families, and children. Poverty and hunger subverts this commitment.
As a country and state with tremendous resources, we can, and should, do better.