Today, the Census bureau released the new poverty numbers for 2011. The numbers show 46.2 million Americans today live in poverty, 16.1 million of whom are children.
Billy Shore, Share Our Strength’s founder and CEO, issued the following statement in response to the new data.
“The official poverty figures released today underscore the devastating human cost of our economic struggles and political paralysis. Such deep and prolonged poverty puts families and children all across the country at risk, and threatens to impede the health, education and economic competitiveness of an entire generation and, in turn, our national wellbeing.
The new Census Bureau data leads to at least three conclusions:
* Ignoring poverty will not make it go away. With few exceptions, political leaders of both parties have refused to even talk about poverty, let alone offer any big or bold anti-poverty initiatives. And for nearly a decade poverty has continued to grow worse.
* Critical anti-hunger programs like SNAP and school meals work. Programs like SNAP have played a critical role in keeping both poverty and food security numbers lower than they otherwise would have been, demonstrating the effectiveness of the safety net. Let’s not shred these successes by using these programs as fodder in misguided budget cutting efforts.
* The gravity of the situation cries out for bipartisan and coordinated leadership on the part of the President, Congress, the nation’s governors, business leaders and the nonprofit sector. Anything short of such unprecedented cooperation will result in too little, too late for America’s most vulnerable families and children.
Nearly 50 million Americans trapped in poverty desperately need our help. But just as much as they need us, we need them if America is to maintain a position of strength and competitiveness in the world. A country with one sixth of its population trapped in poverty, on food assistance, unemployed and dispirited will be hard pressed to lead and inspire in ways that live up to America’s legacy.
With the November elections less than two months away, today’s report increased the pressure on every candidate at every level to respond with specific proposals aimed at cutting poverty and increasing prosperity. The aftershocks of decisions they make – or do not make - today will be felt in our nation’s education, health and economic futures for generations to come.”