What Do You Understand About Poverty?
Most of us do not really understand poverty. Oh, we may have missed a meal or two, or had months where we wondered how we were going to keep the lights on, but we haven’t experienced the grinding, soul-sucking effects of years and years of poverty. Our compassion comes forth at holidays, with Thanksgiving turkeys and Christmas toys. What we fail to understand however, is that poverty goes on all year. The child who does not have a Christmas toy probably does not have 3 meals a day on the weekend when they are not in school. The family who doesn’t have a Thanksgiving turkey may not have electricity to cook it or running water to help prepare the rest of the meal. We tend to think of poor people as those living somewhere else, but they are right here. They may be the person working at a fast food restaurant, or takes care of your children at the daycare center. They are often the working poor, whose jobs provide minimum wages and if they are lucky, insurance or enough income to take advantage of insurance exchanges. Janitors, waitresses, garbage truck workers, security guards, home health aides, cashiers – look around you and imagine living on what they earn each week.
United Way calls them ALICE: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. They live on $10.10 an hour in CT, and less if they are in a profession which includes tips in their income. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, vocational education students, full-time students working in retail, service, agriculture, or higher education, farm workers, seasonal and recreational workers, and babysitters all can be paid less than the minimum wage.
For more information on ALICE click here.