Poverty is a National Crisis

About 40 million people in America are below the poverty line, this is roughly 12% of all US citizens making less than $24,000 for a family of four. For a great majority of people, it’s an enormous task to even make it to that annual income. When the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, even if you work 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, you would only bring in about $15,080 per year. That is a staggering $8,920 less than the poverty line.

I grew up below the poverty line. My family had food, just not a lot. We had clothes, they were just old and hand-me-downs. We had an apartment, just not one big enough for my family of six. As I have gotten older, the socioeconomic status of my friends has become more evident to me. People who can afford to go to college tend to be a whole section of wealth away from where I was raised.

Eventually, my father was able to finish his college degree and we started to make more money over the years. We never were quite as affluent as the rich neighborhood but for the most part, we weren’t in the extremely unsafe part of town, minus a few exceptions.

This thought process followed me to adulthood. This being the “Poverty Glasses” where everything is twice as valuable to you because you never know when you’ll get something like it again, especially with food and warm coats. Even as an adult, I can buy myself food and coats whenever I please but I still hold onto old ones for longer than needed. Most people say this is a good trait to have but when you leave take-out in the fridge for a week, thinking “I’ll eat it later, I have to,” it becomes a problem.

I had it fairly easy compared to the extreme poverty that appears in Native American conservations. 1 in 4 Native Americans living on a reservation were at or below the poverty line. These people never have any food, barely a place to stay and no way to get out of the cycle.

6 out of every 1,000 children get sent to foster care due to poverty and their parents' inability to afford the child. 17% of our next generation, our country's future, doesn’t even have enough food to eat every day.

There are no easy ways to fix this inequality, there is no exact formula to end world hunger and childhood poverty. If there was, it wouldn’t exist anymore. Many different politicians have assorted ideas on what should be done. Raising the minimum wage has been a popular solution but the fear of inflation due to that would simply make the rift larger in the long run.

The best thing anybody can do to help the cause is to volunteer at food banks and read about your politicians' opinions on poverty and the crisis before submitting your vote. Think of the 17% of our youth before shrugging off that man because his sweater is tattered and his shoes are ripped. Remember that you can be part of the solution, not the problem.