Candra Healy, Committee Chair
Hunger & Poverty
Good nutrition during the 1,000-day period from the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday is critical to a child’s health and future well-being.
To accelerate progress on nutrition, we must scale up what we know works: improved access to nutritious foods, vitamins and minerals, clean water and sanitation, promotion of breastfeeding, and treatment for severe malnutrition.
All children deserve the opportunity to live a healthy life and reach their full potential. Join us in making this opportunity a reality!
Leading Facts about Immigration Poverty
Immigrants as a group have a poverty rate of 30 percent.
Meanwhile, the national poverty rate is 14.8 percent. Hundreds of thousands of people could be moved out of poverty if comprehensive immigration reform is achieved and a pathway to citizenship is provided for undocumented immigrants.
Bread for the World recognizes immigration to be a hunger issue “on both sides of the border.”
This means that when considering the way immigration and hunger intersect, we need to think about how hunger pushes people to migrate and how they experience hunger once they arrive in the United States.
For example, many people migrate in the first place due to poverty in their home country.
As advocates, we can promote more foreign spending on food aid and less on border security, which has been proven to be ineffective in preventing people from migrating.
Domestically, we must consider how those most marginalized within our own country are experiencing hunger, and address why they are experiencing such hunger. Bread for the World explains, “No group of immigrants is more harmed by hunger and poverty than those without documentation.
Lack of legal status contributes to their economic insecurity and exploitation. It also means that they have limited access to the social safety net in the United States.”
To learn more about the intersectionality of immigration and hunger, check out the following fact sheets from Bread for the World: Immigration is a Hunger Issue and Border Policy Fact Sheet.
Leading Facts about Minimum Wage
Leading Fact: $17.67: the amount per hour the Living Wage Calculator suggests an individual living with another adult and two children must earn to support their family. The current statewide minimum wage, $9.25 an hour, is simply not enough.
The current minimum wage in Maryland is a major contributor to the reality of hunger and poverty in our state. Minimum wage employees do not make enough money to support themselves and their families adequately, resulting in hunger, poverty, and related social problems.
Our work advocating for a $15 statewide minimum wage by 2023 through the Fight for $15 campaign supports legislation that would put Maryland on track towards achieving a living wage for all people and families. A $15 minimum wage would bring great relief to many in Maryland living paycheck to paycheck and renewed hope that practical change can be achieved through just legislative action.
This legislation would not entirely address the ever grave situation of poverty afflicting Baltimore, where, according to the Baltimore City Health Department, nearly 30% of families currently have an income below the poverty level, and about 13% of the population is unemployed entirely. However, it would be a drastic improvement.
To learn more about hunger and poverty in Maryland specifically, check out this fact sheet on Ending Hunger in Maryland.
Congress Must Protect and Strengthen SNAP and Other Key Anti-Hunger Programs
Give policymakers a brief, up-to-date fact sheet on what they can do to protect and strengthen key anti-hunger programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Criminal Justice Reform
Reforming our nation’s criminal justice system is critical to ending hunger and poverty in the United States. Harsh mandatory minimum sentences, combined with the lack of rehabilitative programs for people in prison, exacerbate hunger, poverty, and existing inequalities.
People lose income and work skills while serving time in prison and lack opportunities to participate in rehabilitative programs, making it even harder for many to find a job after leaving the prison system.
Reforms, such as reducing mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders, eliminating the collateral consequences to incarceration, and expanding access to reentry services would help reduce hunger and improve the stability of families in the United States.
Leading Facts about Mass Incarceration
$13,000: The average amount owed by the average family with an imprisoned family member in fines and court fees alone.
Also, more than half the gross income of a family of four at the poverty line. Coming at the same time as the loss of income when a wage earner goes to jail or prison, such financial hits cause one in five families with an incarcerated family member to be evicted.
In November 2017, the Justice and Peace Ministry attended the Ignatian Family Teach-In in Washington D.C., during which we discussed the topic of mass incarceration and advocated for criminal justice reform on Capitol Hill.
Mass incarceration is of grave concern to us because of the threat such extreme practices of imprisonment make to human dignity, one of the main pillars of Catholic Social Teaching.
We are also concerned about mass incarceration because it is one of the leading causes of poverty and hunger in our nation.
In fact, according to the Social Science Research Network, U.S. poverty would have dropped by 20 percent between 1980 and 2004 if not for mass incarceration.
There are many contributing factors to the creation of this reality, one major factor being the collateral consequences formerly incarcerated people face upon returning from prison.
Federal law permanently bans people with felony drug convictions from receiving welfare benefits and SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. Many returning citizens are also barred from public housing.
Without such resources, it is difficult to forge a new life, thus predisposing formerly incarcerated individuals and their families to hunger and poverty.
For a more in depth exploration on the intersectionality of these issues, check out the Mass Incarceration Briefing Paper provided by Bread for the World.
Migration & Immigration
Immigration is a hunger issue. People who make the decision to leave home and come to the United States generally have few other options. Central America countries are among the poorest in the world, with very high levels of hunger and malnutrition.
Any truly effective immigration policy must include lasting solutions to push factors of migration: hunger, malnutrition, extreme poverty, and violence.
This year, Congress has the opportunity to strengthen the United States’ development and humanitarian assistance by investing in development assistance targeted to help countries in Central America respond to and address the causes of forced migration.