U.S. Census Report: The Harsh Reality of Poverty

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The national poverty rate has risen and a disproportionately larger percentage of Hispanics and Blacks suffer from poverty than Whites, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report.

The report, released Sept. 16, found that, annually, the poverty rate is up to 14.3 percent in 2009 from 13.2 percent in 2008. However, the rate increased from 23.2 percent to 25.3 percent for Hispanics, while it increased from 24.7 percent to 25.8 percent for Blacks.

The numbers are at the highest levels in 51 years and are alarming to people in inner-city communities. Deborah Flateman, CEO of the Maryland Food Bank, said, “We distributed 18.6 million pounds of food last year, up from 14 million the year before.” But that is only a dent in the problem. “To truly end hunger in Maryland we need to move 79 million pounds of food per year.”

John Drew, president and CEO of Action for Boston Community Development told The Bay State Banner that his group has seen a 20 to 25 percent rise in the number of people who come to his organization for aid.

He believes the report, as frightening as it may seem, still doesn’t tell the entire story and doesn’t “capture the real depth of the struggle we’re in.”

The poverty rate has decreased from 18 percent to 17 percent in Washington, D.C., but some still believe the economic situation is still worse today than it’s ever been. George Jones, executive director of Bread for the City told The Washington Post that his organization has seen outside funding virtually disappear this year.

“If you were to take a snapshot that was a picture of today’s reality, you’d see things have gotten worse,” he said.

Activists across America are now calling for a renewed effort to tackle poverty in the nation. The Rev. Jesse Jackson wrote an open letter to the nation in the AFRO and other publications urging the U.S. government to wage a new “War on Poverty.”

“In Iraq and Afghanistan, we had a plan for security, stability, investment, reconstruction, and rebuilding infrastructure,” Jackson wrote. “Our people, our cities, our nation deserve nothing less. The Poverty Report is a call to Congress to create a FY 2011 budget that expands funding to `war on poverty‘ programs supporting employment, education, and basic human needs.”