Moving up and out of poverty

Photo Via Pedro Mondeiro Flickr
Image Via Pedro Mondeiro Flickr

It can be difficult to stay afloat financially for young people entering the job market. For children who are born into families of poverty, it’s even harder to grow out of a struggling financial background. Government officials test the hindering effects of the neighborhoods children grow up in with the Moving to Opportunity experiment where Congress tracks the effects of children living in poverty-stricken cities across the nation.

The Moving to Opportunity (MTO) experiment works to find ways to improve opportunities for low-income children who are less likely to earn higher income if they grow up in poor neighborhoods. But since the start of the experiment in 1996, results have proved to be a disappointment to the efforts which provided select families with vouchers to help move out of high poverty areas. Families saw little increase in income and children performance in school  did not improve as expected.

In efforts to show the impact of MTO, the Equality of Opportunity Program was created to shows the increase or decrease of opportunity for children to escape poverty in cities across the world. The purpose of this program is to show that “location matters.”

Providence shows a .3 percent loss of income for all low-income children who grow up in this city. The cities that put their children at the worst odds include Greensboro, North Carolina, New Orleans, and Fayetteville, North Carolina. These places put children at a cumulative income loss of 47.4 percent.

The younger a child moves to a more opportune city, the more likely they are to escape poverty as an adult. Cities in Bristol County, Rhode Island are a better place to live than about 70 other cities in the US. Statistics show that children from poor families who grow up here add about $100 to his or her household income by the age of 26.

Moving out of low-income cities is not the only option for children to move up the ladder, though. Areas of poverty should not be ignored or abandoned, they should be rebuilt for the families who do not have the means or desire to leave the places they call home.

To check the financial opportunity of your area click here


A Tribute to Storytelling, 40 Years Later

Photo Via Manhhai Flickr
Photo Via Manhhai Flickr

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the conclusion to the Vietnam War with the surrender of South Vietnamese President Duong Van Minh to the communist party. It’s the day that US President Gerald Ford, proclaimed that the war was finished. There are many stories of that cover the results of this day and the defeat of America’s longest war involvement before Afghanistan.

Three decades later, National Public Radio tells a different story to remember this day by, a story of heroism that went untold for one reason; there were no journalists there to tell it.

The story was of a US destroyer escort, the USS Kirk, rescuing helicopters full Vietnamese refugees as they hovered over the ship, in need of a place to land. As the last American platoons evacuated Saigon in defeat, men at sea stood of deck of the USS Kirk, catching babies and children that dropped 10-15 feet from the helicopters that had no other way to land before running out of fuel.

NPR brings this story to life through a multi-media package that includes podcast, visuals, individual profiles, archive sound bites, and print. Through this digital platform, people are able to immerse themselves into this story as if it happened yesterday.

The delayed exposure of this amazing story attests to the impact of journalism. The demands of this profession are challenging and even dangerous at times, but the purpose is simple. Without journalists, stories would not get told. History would not be made. And heroic endeavors like the one made on this day, 40 years ago, would not be recognized to make a statement of human genuity.

The Breakfast Program: Keeping Kids Minds on Learning, not on hunger

At Pell Elementary School in Newport, Rhode Island, more than half of the 890 students participate in the School Breakfast Program. The program grants free or reduced meals to children who come from low-income qualifying families.

This school, opened in 2013, is the only standing elementary school in Newport. In a city where more than eight percent of households live under the poverty level, the Newport Public Schools Committee makes it their goal to make sure all students are fed nutritious meals throughout the school day.

The Food Service Program for Pell Elementary feeds its students through Chartwells, a food company dedicated to the wellness of young minds by providing well balanced food options in school cafeterias. Chartwells prides itself on their motto, “Eat. Learn. Live,” and currently feeds over 4,000 elementary schools including those of the East Bay District.

Farmers Markets Join SNAP

BRISTOL, R.I. ___  For families grocery shopping on a budget, the cost of fresh produce is not always a feasible option over canned goods and processed junk food. Eating healthy is inherently associated with a higher pice tag, but in 2013 the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program extended its mission to include farmers markets to accept food stamps so that low-income families can afford fresh fruits and vegetables.

9676976948_ebb1aeac6e_zMount Hope Farmers Market is one of 24 farmers markets in Rhode Island that are active options for SNAP users. Located in Bristol, Rhode Island this weekly market offers fruits, vegetables, herbs, jams, dairy products and other goods that are all locally produced.

In addition to accepting the SNAP EBT card, Mount Hope Farm offers a coupon to SNAP users that provides two dollars for free fruits and vegetables for every five dollars spent at the market.

The outreach to local food stands is a win-win for families looking to provide healthier meals on their tables and farmers looking to keep produce dollars local.

Roger Williams University Comments on the Impact of Breakfast while learning

The importance of breakfast to kick start the day is a topic that has been advocated for better health for a long time now. Recent statistics calculated by the USDA and the Food and Agricultural Organization show that 44 percent of Americans eat breakfast every day. While the percent of people who eat breakfast is higher among children, there are kids who do not have the option of whether or not to eat a meal before school.

In Rhode Island, 14.4 percent of households are food insecure. This means that there are over 150 thousand homes who struggle to put food on their tables. As a result, children skip out on the most important meal of the day, during an age when the meal is needed most for academic performance.

The issue of child hunger is a concern for educators worldwide. Roger Williams University School of Education professor, Margaret Thombs discusses the importance of the School Breakfast program which provides free and reduced breakfast to children from families with income 130 to 185 percent of the federal poverty level.

In Rhode Island, this program feeds 39 percent of children from low-income families. The RI Kids Court  explains, “The School Breakfast Program ensures that the nation’s most vulnerable children start their day off with a healthy meal.”

Raising Poverty Problem Awareness

thinglink: Poverty in America
thinglink: Poverty in America

This interactive image was created to help conceptualize the issue of poverty in America. Included in the image are links to videos, statistics, blogs and images that aim to bring awareness to the 43 million people in the United States who live under poverty level. The issue of hunger in America can go unrecognized for those who are not effected by the problem, but there are many people who are dependent on food banks, federal assistance programs and homeless shelters, to survive.

SNAP on the MAP: County of Bristol, Rhode Island

Ever since 2008 the food stamp program has taken on a new name, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The SNAP name came with the purpose of broadening the selection of food offered to those in need by including more local farms and markets as SNAP accepters.

Recent statistics show that 101,002 households in Rhode Island were SNAP participators in 2014. Each person who qualifies for the program benefits on average $125 per month toward food and domestic needs. The map above lists all SNAP locations in the County of Bristol. The map includes the address and hours of operation for convenient stores, pharmacy’s, supermarkets small businesses, super markets and farms that accept SNAP dollars.

The map functions as a convenience tool for those in search of SNAP locations in the towns of Bristol, Warren and Barrington and may also bring awareness to new locations that accept SNAP dollars. One of the biggest concerns of food stamp users was the healthy selection available to low-income families. Locations such as Mt. Hope Farm, Go Local: Farmers Market and Cabrals Beef and Provisions give SNAP users access to nutritious options within their budget.