Poverty and Hunger in the United States

Topics: Poverty in the United States, Poverty, Poverty threshold Pages: 7 (2589 words) Published: August 20, 2013
Joanne Riley
Professor Paul Dadosky
ECON 202
July 17, 2013

Poverty and Hunger in the United States

The United States determines the official poverty rate using poverty thresholds that are issued each year by the U.S. Census Bureau. The thresholds represent the annual amount of income needed to sustain at the lowest level families of various sizes. A family is classified as poor if their pre-tax income is below the poverty threshold. The pre-tax income does not include any non-monetary benefits such as public housing, Medicaid, food stamps or any employer provided health insurance. Here is a sample of the 2010 poverty thresholds:

Single Individual| Under 65 years| $11,344|
| 65 years & older| $10,458|
Single Parent| One child| $15,030|
| Two children| $17,568|
| No children| $14,602|
Two Adults| One child| $17,552|
| Two children| $22,113|
| Three children| $26,023|

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010, Report P60, n. 238, p. 61. Poverty guidelines are a simplified version of poverty thresholds and these are issued by the Department of Health and Human Services to determine financial eligibility for certain federal programs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is one of these programs. They provide nutritious meals and snacks to thousands of children in day care across the United States. The same program supplies meals and snacks to hundreds of thousands adults who receive care in non-residential adult day care centers. It also provides meals to children residing in emergency shelters and to youths participating in certain afterschool programs. The figures for poverty and hunger within the United States are staggering. According to the U.S. Census Bureau 2010 figures, 46.9 million people were living in poverty. This is the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty rates have been published. According to the National Poverty Center, 15.1 percent of all people live in poverty. Of this number, children account for 22 percent of the total population, but when just looking at people in poverty, they account for 36 percent. This equates to 16.4 million children in 2010. The poverty rate for children can be further broken down into categories.

Category| Number (In thousands)| Percent|
All children under 18| 16,401| 22.0|
White only, non-Hispanic| 5.002| 12.4|
Black| 4,817| 38.2|
Hispanic| 6,110| 35.0|

Another staggering statistic is that 20.5 million Americans live in extreme poverty. Extreme poverty is defined as the family’s cash income is less than half of the poverty line, or about $10,000 a year for a family of four(DeNavas-Walt 2011, p. 19). In 2011 the U.S. Census Bureau published a supplemental poverty measure for the first time. It addressed seven concerns that have been raised about the official poverty measure, including the fact that the official measure did not take into account the effects of key government policies that alter the disposable income of families and their poverty status, such as SNAP/food stamp program. With taking these adjustments into account, the supplemental poverty rate increased by 3 million over the 2010 figures. It also raised the rate of children in poverty to 27.7 percent of the total population. Hunger is principally caused by poverty, so what causes poverty? There are several factors to consider. We have a free enterprise system. This means there is competition for jobs. Normally the most qualified person will be hired. Additionally, in our society, there is a significant amount of unemployment, with the highest unemployment falling to the least qualified. The bottom line is that the private enterprise system is not generating enough jobs to employ everyone who is employable. Next, the presidents, CEO’s are the ones determining the allocation of profits. It seems over the...
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