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Poll Shows Strong Support for Programs to End Poverty

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This year, more than one in five New York soup kitchens and food pantries say they've had to turn people away, reduce amounts per person or limit hours. (Halfpoint/Adobe Stock)
This year, more than one in five New York soup kitchens and food pantries say they've had to turn people away, reduce amounts per person or limit hours. (Halfpoint/Adobe Stock)
 By Andrea Sears - Producer, Contact
November 30, 2020

NEW YORK -- A new poll shows low-income Americans overwhelmingly support government programs that could end poverty and hunger.

Pollsters spoke with more than 800 adults earning less than $50,000 dollars a year, and found those living near or below the poverty line face multiple barriers to getting ahead; barriers made worse by the economic impact of COVID-19.

Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, reported more than half of the people polled faced three or more such barriers, and said they want to see government policies that would make it possible to thrive.

"Policies that would guarantee living-wage jobs for all adults, make quality housing and health care affordable, and eliminate the 'benefits cliff' that penalizes people when they work extra hours," Berg urged.

He noted the Heroes Act would provide relief, including raising SNAP benefits. It was passed by the House in May, but hasn't yet made it to the Senate floor for consideration.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., pointed out with so many businesses closed by the coronavirus, thousands more New Yorkers are now lining up at soup kitchens and food pantries to get enough to eat.

"We are the wealthiest country in the world," Gillibrand observed. "It is outrageous that we have so much hunger in America today. We have to end hunger in our lifetime. We have to marshal the resources and marshal the will to do the work to end hunger."

She has joined with U.S. Representative Joseph Morelle, D-N.Y., in introducing the HOPE Act, a bill she said would modernize and streamline access to benefits and services.

Congressman Morelle said government agencies need to find more innovative ways to work together, and use new technologies that can improve access to social services when people need help.

"They don't need more bureaucratic problems," Morelle maintained. "They don't need more red tape, especially now when we're trying to take every step possible to uplift families during this extraordinary time of need, and to make sure that no American is ever left behind."

He said even in normal times, 25% of the working poor and 55% of people over age 60 who qualify for SNAP benefits don't receive them.

Disclosure: Hunger Free America contributes to our fund for reporting on Hunger/Food/Nutrition. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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