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As you read about Marie, you see the level of poverty she is experiencing. She has lost her job, home, and is struggling for food.

Would you believe this is a common experience? Think of the times you are at filling up your car. There may be ten adults doing this at one time1.

ONE of these people are on welfare2.
At least ONE person is in poverty and has a household income of $12,880 (or $21,960 with children).
Likely, ONE and maybe TWO people do not know when or where they will eat next (food insecurity).
At least THREE people are considered “working poor” under two times the poverty rate (a household of three living under $40,000/yr).
More than SIX of these people are paying more than 50% of their income to their housing.
At least THREE of these people are renters.

Negative effects of poverty3:

  • Substandard housing, homelessness, inadequate nutrition and food insecurity, inadequate childcare, lack of access to health care, unsafe neighborhoods, and under resourced schools which adversely impact our nation’s children.
  • Low birth weight
  • Poor nutrition which is manifested in the following ways:
    1. Inadequate food which can lead to food insecurity/hunger
    2. Lack of access to healthy foods and areas for play or sports which can lead to childhood overweight or obesity
  • Chronic conditions such as asthma, anemia and pneumonia
  • Exposure to environmental contaminants, e.g., lead paint and toxic waste dumps
  • Poorer children and teens are also at greater risk for several negative outcomes such as poor academic achievement, school dropout, abuse and neglect, behavioral and socio-emotional problems, physical health problems, and developmental delays.
  • These effects are compounded by the barriers children and their families encounter when trying to access physical and mental health care.
  • Poverty has a particularly adverse effect on the academic outcomes of children, especially during early childhood.
  • Chronic stress associated with living in poverty has been shown to adversely affect children’s concentration and memory which may impact their ability to learn.

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School-age children who experience severe hunger are at increased risk for the following negative outcomes:

  • Homelessness
  • Chronic health conditions.
  • Stressful life conditions.
  • Psychiatric distress.
  • Behavioral problems.
  • Internalizing behavior, including depression, anxiety, withdrawal and poor self-esteem.

Extreme poverty is the strongest predictor of homelessness for families. Lack of affordable housing is also a risk factor for homelessness, particularly for families who devote more than 50% of household income to paying rent or those who experience a foreclosure. Foreclosures affect vulnerable tenants as well as homeowners who are delinquent in their mortgage payments.

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3-American Psychological Association,

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