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Childhood Hunger and Poverty in DC

Today is Childhood Hunger Awareness Day. Hunger is one of the dire consequences of poverty, and according to DC Hunger Solutions, “Every day in DC, more than one out of eight households faces a constant struggle against hunger, and one out of three children lives on the edge of hunger.”

In 2014, approximately 15,597 DC households with children were receiving SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) benefits. The average amount that families receive, which has recently been cut, allows them to spend only $4 per person, per day, for food.

In addition to struggling with hunger, impoverished children are less likely to feel connected to their schools and communities. In turn, they are more likely to drop out of high school, less likely to start or graduate from college, and more likely to be poor as adults. Their families have fewer opportunities to obtain safe, decent and affordable housing; their parents face significant barriers to obtaining full-time employment at a living wage.

In recent years, in addition to providing daily meals and over 140 units of affordable housing for low-income families, SOME has partnered with organizations and individuals to advocate for policies that meet families’ immediate needs and enable them to break the cycle of poverty, including higher SNAP (food assistance) benefits for families and seniors.

Sequnely Gray, an advocate and mother, recently saw her family’s SNAP benefits decreased. As a result, she says, she and her partner, both of whom are employed, are “forced to make more difficult decisions that affect our children’s everyday life. Providing healthy meals for my family on a daily basis…is a worry. Compromising a healthy diet for processed food will affect our children’s growth and development and their ability to focus and learn in school.”

Ms. Gray is working in SOME’s Advocacy Department to organize others facing this situation and other related issues. Join her and other concerned community members in calling for increased SNAP benefits and other policies that are responsive to the needs of low-income District residents.

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