By RAEGAN NEUFELD
Tiger Media Network
As a part of Poverty Awareness Month – which is recognized in January – the Student Government Association and Alpha Gamma Delta hosted an informational event on Tuesday to discuss the issues related to poverty in America.
The topics covered included health, education and housing; however, the presentation highlighted food insecurity. After the presentation, there was a Jeopardy game for attendees to participate in. The winning team received a bag of groceries.
According to SGA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director Joanna Carrillo, the purpose of SGA is to represent students and provide them with information.
“That’s why we do events like this,” she said. “To make sure the student body is informed about everything going on in the world.”
Food insecurity is the focus of AGD’s philanthropy, which is one of the reasons they partnered with SGA for the event. The sorority serves this cause by supporting the local food pantry, Feeding Hays, and the local Meals on Wheels.
“Alpha Gams love giving back to our community through partnerships and we are able to make an impact on our communities through this,” AGD member Grace Morey said.
As outlined in the presentation, food insecure individuals are defined as people without access to enough food and who do not know where their next meal will come from. Approximately 44 million people in the United States experience food insecurity annually.
“Food insecurity has the potential to harm college students’ ability to achieve their educational and professional goals,” AGD member Bailey Martin said. “The share of college students with low household incomes has increased, and when these factors are combined with the rising cost of education, many adult students are struggling to make ends meet.”
Morey discussed the different ways health relates to poverty. For example, poverty is linked to disparities in life expectancy, such as chronic conditions, and poor health can contribute to a reduced income.
“Impoverished people find it more difficult to access quality healthcare, and this lack of quality healthcare, in turn, contributes to more poverty,” Morey said.
Carrillo presented information on housing issues and their link to poverty. According to her research, access to affordable housing is an effective strategy to reduce childhood poverty and increase economic mobility. Currently, working full-time in any state for minimum wage can not afford a two-bedroom apartment.
As for education, people living in poverty may stop going to school so they can work, but are left without skills that can further their careers.
“Their children, in turn, are in a similar situation years later, with little income and few options but to leave school and work again, leaving these individuals trapped in poverty,” AGD member Anna TenBensel said.
More information and data on poverty in America can be found on the Census Bureau website.
Feeding Hays and Meals on Wheels are options for people in Hays to help with food insecurity. Students at Fort Hays also have access to the Tiger Pantry located in the Chestnut Room of the Memorial Union.