National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness

By: Daniel Nardini

National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week was held in mid-November. The week was dedicated to bring awareness on how poverty, hunger and homelessness has grown since the Great Recession started. Frankly, this event should be way more than just a week. Here are some frightening statistics. Fifty-eight percent of all Americans have experienced poverty within their lifetime. Children living in poverty in the U.S. has increased by 12 percent since 2000. However, that percentage is higher in the U.S. Midwest where 29 percent of all children are living in poverty. This is over twice the national rate. Poverty generally in the U.S. Midwest has almost doubled within that time period. During the decade, over 610,000 manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Midwest were lost. The manufacturing job loss in the U.S. Midwest makes up one-third of all the manufacturing jobs lost during the 2000’s. Women and children are increasingly becoming a larger part of the homeless as they seek protection in homeless shelters.

But beyond the statistics are truly horrific human tragedies affected by the economic uncertainty and it seems local, state and the federal governments’ inability to do anything about it. The loss of manufacturing jobs is more than job loss—it is the loss of jobs that generally paid well and which helped in times passed to provide good income for the workers. The fact that an increasing number of the homeless are now women and children means that society’s most vulnerable are suffering the worst effects of the Great Recession. The politicians can claim that the Great Recession is over and that “recovery is around the corner.” For the tens of millions now in poverty, and with fewer job prospects, this all rings hollow. The fact that more Americans are beginning to experience poverty is something that even a mere ten years ago would have been unthinkable. It says so much about how our political leaders have failed.

Today our political leaders are campaigning to try and help the American people, and especially America’s most vulnerable, if and when they are elected. Why cannot they do this right now? Why wait until they are elected? Some of these candidates are serving in office presently, so why not show by example in order to prove they are the right choice for the people? Awareness of the issues and statistics I have raised is necessary, but action is needed rather than campaigning to do something about it. When is all said and done, those families and individuals living in poverty now will simply go to bed at the end of the day without enough food, a job, and wondering if they too will be homeless or unable to pay for the utility bills in the dead of winter.

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