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Hunger at the Crossroads: New Webinar Series

 

banner with title of webinar series

We know that hunger is about more than food. Understanding hunger – and working to end it – means seeing the many ways hunger and poverty intersect with so many other issues, including climate change, food production, access to housing, racial justice, gender justice and more. In “Hunger at the Crossroads,” a webinar series hosted by ELCA World Hunger, we will explore these intersections and the ways we can be part of God’s promise of a just world where all are fed.

New webinar sessions will be posted below. Participants do need to register beforehand, so check back and register to attend!

Who

The webinars are open to anyone passionate about ending hunger and eager to learn more. In each session, we will dive deeply into the topic, with presentations from ELCA World Hunger staff and partners and time for questions and conversation.

Upcoming Webinars

graphic with title of upcoming webinar on Housing and Hunger scheduled for June 29 at 6pm central time

“Housing and Hunger” with Brooke De Jong (ELCA World Hunger) and featuring a NEW! resource on housing – June 29, 2022 at 6:00pm Central

Previous Webinars

“Sexuality, Gender Identity and Hunger” with Rev. Heidi Neumark (Trinity Lutheran Church, New York, New York) and Rev. Joe Larson (Fargo, North Dakota) – August 12, 2021 at 6:00pm Central

“Climate Change and Hunger” with Ryan Cumming and Brooke De Jong (ELCA World Hunger) – October 27th, 2021, at 6:00 pm Central

“Hunger and Poverty by the Numbers: Where Are We at Now?” with Ryan Cumming (ELCA World Hunger) – December 9, 2021, at 6:00pm Central

How

Registration for “Hunger and Housing” is now open! Visit https://forms.office.com/r/Qeixntchp8 to register. Registration for future “Hunger at the Crossroads” sessions will be available soon. Follow ELCA World Hunger on Facebook and Twitter to get up-to-date information, including dates and links for registration. Questions about “Hunger at the Crossroads” can be sent to hunger@elca.org.

Watch the recordings of previous “Hunger at the Crossroads” webinars here: https://vimeo.com/showcase/8758461.

 

We hope to see you “at the Crossroads”!

 

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“Know Your Neighborhood”: A New Resource from ELCA World Hunger!

 

A New Resource for Learning, Sharing and Leading

Good information is the backbone of effective responses to hunger and poverty. But where do we get the information we need? And where can we get reliable information about our local communities? ELCA World Hunger’s new “Know Your Neighborhood Worksheet and Guide” is here to help!

This fillable worksheet gives step-by-step instructions for finding the most up-to-date, reliable data on counties within the United States. Each section offers clear instructions for finding data from sources such as the United States Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There are also tips to help you dig even deeper into the numbers and to share the information with others.

What Information Can I Find?

“Know Your Neighborhood” is divided into five sections:

  • Housing
  • Employment and Poverty
  • Food Security
  • Food Access
  • Community Asset Mapping

Each section provides a brief introduction to the issues, a summary of what information to look for and a list of the sources used for the data (click to enlarge):

Some of the questions that you will be able to answer with the help of “Know Your Neighborhood”:

  • How many people are homeless in my state? How many homeless people in my state are currently sheltered?

  • What is the median household income in my county?

  • How many people are living in poverty in my county?

  • What is the median household income in my synod?

  • What is the unemployment rate in my county?

  • How many people are food insecure in my county?

  • How many people in my county live in a food desert?

Another New Resource: Synod Maps

In addition to the worksheet in “Know Your Neighborhood,” ELCA World Hunger is happy to provide synod maps here. These maps are color-coded and show the median household income by zip code for synods. (The Slovak Zion Synod and the Caribbean Synod are not available.) In addition, each map shows the locations of ELCA congregations throughout the synod.

As you can see in this example map of the Northwestern Minnesota Synod, the color-coded areas represent median household income brackets (click to enlarge):

How Can You Use This Data?

The worksheet and maps for “Know Your Neighborhood” give leaders a quick way to collect and share information with others in the community. These will be helpful for

  • Presentations

  • Temple talks

  • Newsletters

  • Considering new ministry plans

  • Sharing the story of a current ministry

  • Advocacy

  • And much more!

Download “Know Your Neighborhood” from ELCA.org/hunger/resources#HungerEd. The synod maps can be found at ELCA.org/hunger/resources#Maps. And check out other resources from ELCA World Hunger on the same page!

Connect

If you use “Know Your Neighborhood” or have questions about how to use the maps or the guide, get in touch with us at Hunger@ELCA.org.

 

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New Data on Poverty and Food Security Show Positive Trends, More Work to Do

 

 

Each year, the United States Census Bureau updates the statistics on poverty, health care coverage, and the median income for Americans. This research gives us not only a glimpse into how the country is faring in terms of economic opportunity for a given year but also a broad view of historical trends year-over-year.

Around the same time, the United States Department of Agriculture releases new data on food security in the United States. These data help us see how the country is faring in terms of access to healthy, safe food for Americans.

The data for 2016 were released last week and contained few surprises. Before getting into the numbers, though, here’s a few helpful notes on the Census reports. (Many thanks to the Coalition on Human Needs, an alliance of nonprofit organizations that hosts an annual webinar on the census data.)

  • The data are collected annually through two tools: the Current Population Survey (CPS) and the American Community Survey (ACS). Both provide information on similar issues, but the ACS involves a much larger sample, making it possible to get statistics for smaller datasets. For example, you can use the ACS to find the rate of poverty in your state, county or congressional district.
  • The rate of poverty is calculated for the previous year based on the official poverty thresholds for households based on household size. Households with annual income below the thresholds are considered to be poor. This matters a great deal, since some means-based public support – SNAP, TANF, etc. – are based on the poverty thresholds. For 2016, the year measured by the CPS and ACS in the newest data, the thresholds are:
    • 1 person, average – $12,234
    • 1 person, below 65 years old – $12,486
    • 1 person, above 65 years old – $11,511
    • 2 people – $15,585
    • 3 people – $19,109
    • 4 people – $24,563
  • In addition to the official poverty rate, the Census Bureau provides data based on the “Supplemental Poverty Measure.” The Supplemental Poverty Measure has a few key differences that make it interesting. First, it includes forms of “income” that the official measure does not, for example, Social Security income, SNAP benefits, housing assistance and tax credits. It also makes adjustments in the poverty thresholds based on housing costs in a local geographic area. This makes the SPM fascinating, since it can be used to track the effect things like SNAP benefits, Social Security and medical out-of-pocket costs have on the rate of poverty in the US. For example, we can use the SPM to see what the rate of poverty might be without a program like SNAP. Or, we could use it to estimate what the rate of poverty would be if households had no medical out-of-pocket costs.
  • To be statistically significant, the poverty rate has to change by at least .2 or .3 percent. For example, a change in the poverty rate from 15.5% to 15.4% is not statistically significant. For median income, the change has to be about 1 percent to be significant. (Thanks Jared Bernstein, Senior Fellow at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities for his analysis here.)

Alright, enough notes. Here’s the numbers:

Food Security – 2016

  • 3 percent of Americans – about 15.6 million households – were food insecure at some point during the year. This is down, but not significantly, from 12.7 percent in 2015. It is a significant decline from 2014, though, when 14 percent of Americans reported experiencing food insecurity in 2014.
  • 9 percent of people in the US – about 6.1 million households – had very low food security in 2016, which means that their food intake was reduced and their normal eating patterns were disrupted at some point during the year. This is essentially the same rate as 2015, when 5 percent of households reported low food security.
  • 5 percent of households with children experienced food insecurity in 2016. One interesting note here is that in 8.5 percent of households with children, only the adults were food-insecure. This may be due to the tendency of adults to reduce their own food intake and change their eating habits to ensure that children have enough to eat. Still, in 298,000 households, children, too, experienced disruptions in their food intake due to food insecurity.
  • As you can see in the graph below, the Great Recession caused spikes in food insecurity, which have since abated. But food insecurity still hasn’t declined to what it was before the recession.

Poverty

  • In 2016, 12.7 percent of Americans – about 40.6 million people – were living in poverty. This is a decline from 13.5 percent in 2015.
  • While still high, the new rate reflects the biggest two-year decline in poverty in nearly 50 years. 2.5 million Americans who experienced poverty in 2015 had incomes in 2016 that were above the poverty threshold (see above.) This is a tremendous positive change.
  • The number of children living in poverty continues to be high, though we did see a reduction in the number of children living in impoverished households from 2015 to 2016. In 2015, 14.5 million children were living in poverty. In 2016, the number dropped to 13.2 million.
  • The Supplemental Poverty Measure demonstrates the huge impact that government programs have had on the rate of poverty in the United States. For example, Social Security helped 26 million people from experiencing poverty. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) reduced the number of people in poverty by almost 3.6 million.
  • Higher income may be part of the reason for the decline in poverty. For the second year, the median income for American households increased, to $59,039 in 2016. This is still lower than it was before the Great Recession ($59,992 in 2007), but it shows a positive trend, at least from 2014 to 2016.
  • Interestingly, this growth is not necessarily attributable to a growth in wages. Rather, the most likely reasons seem to be higher employment and the effects this has on household income. Wage growth, unfortunately, remains slow.

Altogether, the news from the US Census Bureau shows the positive effects of economic growth, as well as the importance of public programs like Social Security, SNAP, housing assistance and others. For a full report on the new data, see  https://www.census.gov/topics/income-poverty/poverty.html.

 

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