By Patricia Jones, Task Force On Poverty
The United States of America is the wealthiest nation in the world, and throughout our history, each generation has seen a better standard of living than their parents. But this is changing. Between forty and fifty million people in our great nation live in poverty, including one in every four children. And for these people, the future doesn’t look bright.
People live in poverty if they do not earn enough to meet their basic needs. Because of media coverage, we think poverty is a city problem. But the reality is that a greater percentage of Nebraskans live in poverty than most other states, and rural areas are hit much harder than urban areas.
Box Butte County, with 11,000 residents, has about 1,200 people living in poverty, according to PovertyUSA.org. 5.3% of our population live in deep poverty, which means they earn less than half the amount the government defines as the poverty threshold. Women are more than twice as likely to live in poverty in Box Butte County than men are. And almost three thousand of our county’s children live in poverty!
Luckily, there are programs that help, and there are caring people in our community seeking answers. Alliance has a Task Force on Poverty, with members from local churches, government, community agencies, and other volunteers. In June this group will be hosting a national program, Bridges out of Poverty, a research-based framework of concepts, tools, and resources that equip people to reconsider how they approach their clients, their constituents, their neighbors, and their community. Bridges out of Poverty has been offered in Scottsbluff and Chadron in the past few years, with tremendous results.
Over the next few months, the Task Force on Poverty will be presenting more information about organizations and agencies in Box Butte County which deal with problems faced by those of us who live in poverty. Watch for more information as we develop strategies to deal with this all-too-common problem facing so many in our area.