Nebraskans in poverty, and the solutions that can help

Last week, TalkPoverty.org released their state-by-state analysis of 2013 poverty data compiled last month by the U.S. Census.

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Adopting the Community Eligibility Provision would allow Nebraska schools to make sure our children get the food they need to learn, grow, and be healthy.

Using a variety of measures, the interactive analysis provides an in-depth look at how poverty impacts various communities across the United States, including each congressional district in Nebraska.

Click here to find Nebraska’s poverty data.

One of the most alarming statistics was Nebraska’s child poverty rate. In our state, 17.3 percent of children under the age of 18 live in families that make incomes officially below the poverty line ($23,834 for a family of four).

It can be difficult for children from families in poverty to break the cycle of poverty once they grow up, however, there are steps we can take with public policies to help Nebraska kids beat this challenge.

One way is by ensuring all Nebraska children are getting the food they need to grow, learn, and be healthy. Children from families in poverty often struggle to get the amount of nutritious food they need. But through new initiatives like the Community Eligibility Provision, we can help fight hunger among our kids.

Community Eligibility is available to Nebraska schools where 40 percent or more of the students are approved for free meals without an application because they have been identified as eligible by another program, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as the Food Stamp program).

Using Community Eligibility, Nebraska schools can reduce stigma for students who receive free lunch, while reducing administrative costs, and most importantly, making sure all kids are able to get the food they need.

After the Census data on poverty was released, the Center For American Progress also released a list of policy solutions to cut poverty nationwide, including raising the minimum wage, increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit, and extending Medicaid.

Appleseed will continue to fight for policies that help Nebraska families move out of poverty toward a brighter future for themselves and for our state.

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