To The Daily Sun,
As I recall all the delicious food I ate over this Thanksgiving weekend and wonder how we will finish all the leftovers, I think of all those families who live in poverty and perhaps do not have enough food to eat every day. The federal poverty guideline for 2013 is $23,550 for a family of four. This figure is used for eligibility purposes for public programs such as Medicaid, Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF), and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, to name a few. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, the guidelines for establishing the poverty rates were originally developed in the 1960s. At that time, 1/3 of a family's income was spent on food; today only 1/7 of a family's income is spent on food. The guidelines are a national standard, which does not reflect changes from state to state or between urban and rural areas. Nor have they been adjusted for increases in housing, childcare, health care, and transportation. In order to meet the basic needs for a family of four the $23,550 would have to be doubled. Additionally, the National Center for Children in Poverty reports, in 2011 43 percent of children in N.H. lived in a home where the parents do not have a high school diploma.
Poverty leads to food insecurity or hunger. There are astonishing rates of poverty in the Lakes Region. This is easily identified by reviewing those children eligible for free and reduced school lunch in our communities. According to Kids Count, a program of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the 2011-2012 figures are overwhelming. In Laconia, 55 percent of children were eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. In Shaker Regional, which includes Belmont and Canterbury, 34 percent of children were eligible and Winnisquam Regional, which includes Tilton, Sanbornton and Northfield, had 35 percent of eligible children. In Laconia, the numbers of eligible children increased by 15 percent since the 2007-2008 figures were released.
There have been many studies and programs to address poverty in N.H.We need to find ways to help kids stay in school, in the long run, they will perform better in the job market and financially. The Children's Alliance of N.H., a statewide program has been addressing food insecurity through a program called N.H. Hunger Solutions. They have created a N.H. Roadmap to End Childhood Hunger. Their goal is to ensure "every child has three nutritious meals a day". Please consider helping out in your community and you can read more at www.childrennh.org. The children are the future and we need to ensure they grow into healthy adults.