Poverty in U.S. Strikes Women, Working Families

A survey released by the VanAmburg Group, Inc. concluded that the majority of hungry people in the United States are white, female, very old or very young and working. Director of Tufts University Center on Hunger, Poverty and Nutrition Policy J. Larry Brown said, “The data run counter to almost every stereotype we have of those who need assistance …. It’s mainly families that are playing by the rules — working or trying to work.”

The study was commissioned by Second Harvest food banks, whose workers provided food to 21 million people in 1997. Researchers performed one-on-one surveys of approximately 28,000 recipients of food bank provisions and received 11,000 mail surveys from charities.

Researchers found that two-thirds of those in need of assistance were women, 54 percent were senior citizens or children and almost half were white. Thirty-six had a high school diploma or GED, and 39 percent of the families had at least one adult with a job.

Chairman of the House nutrition subcommittee Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) is pushing to increase federal funding for donations to food banks. Rep. Tony Hall (D-OH), who performed his own survey of food banks with the same results, is urging Congress to increase the minimum wage.


AP - March 9, 1998

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