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Nearly 12 percent of Missouri residents live in poverty, according to U.S. Census data released last month. When you look at single mothers with dependent children, that number shoots up to 44 percent.
Those figures were released in the midst of a larger debate over how effective government handouts are at reducing poverty. In Sept., the U.S. House of Representatives voted to slash funding to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which is also commonly known as food stamps.
Part of that debate is around a proposal to require able-bodied adults to seek work or job training if they want food stamps. But a job doesn't guarantee a ticket out of poverty - according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 7 percent of Americans who work more than half of the year are still living below the federal poverty level, and that percentage has gone up - it was less than 5 percent in the year 2000.
This week on Intersection, we’ll take a closer look at the causes of poverty in Missouri, and talk about what’s being done to try to bring folks out of it.
Jeanette Mott Oxford is the Executive Director of the Missouri Association for Social Welfare and a former state representative.
Sandy Rikoon is a professor in MU’s department of rural sociology and is the director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security, which just published its 2013 version of the Missouri Hunger Atlas.
Matt Foulkes is an Associate Professor in the MU Department of Geography. He also worked on the Hunger Atlas project, and in addition to his study on the geography of food insecurity, he also tracks the migration patterns and behaviors of the rural poor.