Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

New Study: Poverty Doesn’t Have a Political Affiliation

LA Press Conference
Christian leaders from multiple denominations unite around advocating to end hunger and poverty at a press conference in Los Angeles, Calif., in 2011 (Joanne Nazarian/Bread for the World).

Poverty is complex— it can touch anyone, no matter their age, gender, or race. And although every decrease in the poverty rate requires the force of political will, poverty is not affiliated with any one political party. A new report from Brookings Institution on the increase in suburban poverty examines variations between congressional districts.

During the recession, one of the fastest growing pockets of poverty in America has been in metropolitan suburbs, but the distress has been largely hidden. During the 2000s, Brookings reports, poverty grew in 388 of 435 districts — and most of those districts are in the suburbs of the 100 largest metropolitan areas. The trend does not, it appears, discriminate by party affiliation,  but is distributed nearly equally between districts, regardless of whether they are represented by a Democrat or a Republican.

In the suburbs of Charlotte, N.C., poverty has jumped an incredible 663 percent between 2007 and 2011.  During the same period, District 17 in central Texas has seen suburban poverty increase by 407 percent. Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC-12) and Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX-17) have a “shared challenge” – the approach recommended in the report. (See more comparisons by downloading the report).

Each party has a stake in alleviating poverty. Instead of discussing poverty in partisan terms or placing blame, our nation's leaders should address the root causes driving these trends.

But instead of unifying around one of the biggest challenges facing our nation, Congress is caught in political gridlock.  Take sequestration, the automatic cuts that are now law, for example. The legislation was created as part of the 2011 Budget Control Act as a way to force lawmakers into bipartisan deficit-reduction negotiations. Because the parties could not find common ground, the automatic cuts now work as budgeting on autopilot – indiscriminately cutting programs, including those critical to staving off hunger and poverty. 

The House farm bill is another example—it has been caught in a  political standoff that has left the SNAP program, our nation’s best defense against hunger, in a state of uncertainty. 

Bread for the World is made up of members from all walks of life, united around one goal: alleviating hunger and poverty as part of the Christian call. “The good news of Jesus Christ is neither liberal or conservative,” says Bread's director of organizing, LaVida Davis.

In Georgia’s District 4, represented by Democrat Henry Johnson, there are grandmas struggling on fixed incomes, just as there are children in Michigan's District 2, represented by Republican Bill Huizenga, whose mothers are earning minimum wage and struggling to put food on their tables.  Poverty is a shared problem that should unite this nation, not divide it—and the same holds true for Congress. 

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Check out Bread for the World's new August recess webpage, which includes information on how faithful advocates can get in front of members of Congress and work to help hungry and poor people.

 

« SNAP Is Under Unprecedented Attack None of Us Lives Very Far From Food Insecurity »

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