September 16, 2015

Federal Safety-Net Programs Continue to Keep Millions Out of Poverty

Washington, D.C., September 16, 2015 – Today, despite relatively little change in U.S. poverty numbers, Bread for the World points to new U.S. Census Bureau data showing that federal safety-net programs continue to prevent millions of people from falling into poverty. The bureau announced that   14.8 percent of Americans lived in poverty in 2014, essentially unchanged from 2013.

The official poverty rate does not account for most federal anti-poverty programs. Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which does account for safety-net programs and was also released today, the school lunch program reduced poverty by 0.4 percentage points. On September 30, the law governing child nutrition programs including school meals, summer feeding, and the WIC nutrition program expires unless Congress renews it.

“Congress needs to pass a child nutrition bill that protects child nutrition programs and connects more children with healthy meals – while not cutting other safety net programs,” said Eric Mitchell, director of government relations.

According to the new data, the poverty rate would have been 3.1 percentage points higher without the earned income tax credit (EITC) and child tax credit (CTC). These two credits have important improvements set to expire in 2017 without congressional action.

“Congress is in the midst of debating what temporary business tax benefits to make permanent, and it is essential lawmakers simultaneously make the 2009 EITC and CTC improvements permanent,” emphasized Mitchell. “Allowing these improvements to expire would push 16.4 million people, including 7.7 million children, into or deeper into poverty. The needs of working families struggling to make ends meet should be just as high a priority as tax benefits for businesses.”

Despite the new data showing federal safety-net programs keeping millions people out of poverty, many are at risk of cuts from sequestration.   

“As the budget battles heat up, Congress must negotiate a deal that addresses sequestration. If we are serious about ending hunger, we cannot make progress by putting key safety-net programs on the chopping block,” said Mitchell. “These policies matter to millions of Americans. Lawmakers must stop the brinkmanship, end sequestration, and make ending hunger a real priority for our country.”

from our Resource Library

For Education

  • The Nourishing Effect

    Hunger and food insecurity add at least $160 billion a year to U.S. healthcare costs.

  • Mass Incarceration: A Major Cause of Hunger

    Mass incarceration has far-reaching effects in the United States. It poses a significant barrier to ending U.S. hunger and poverty by 2030—a goal the United States adopted in 2015. But the connection is not always obvious.

  • Advancing Nutrition through Food Aid Reform

    The United States has long been a global leader in responding to humanitarian emergencies. Food assistance that includes nutritious food for pregnant women and young children is both a life-and-death matter for individuals and an economic imperative for countries.

For Faith

  • Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

    A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

    Dear Members of Congress,

    As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...

  • In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional for Public Policy Engagement

    This devotional guide invites deepened relationship with and among Pan-Af­rican people and elected leaders in the mission to end hunger and poverty.

  • Sermon by David Beckmann at Duke University Chapel

    Remarks delivered October 1, 2017 at Duke University Chapel in Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

    Thank you for inviting me to preach here at Duke University Chapel. And I especially want to thank the Bread for the World members who have come this morning.

    Bruce Puckett urged...

For Advocacy

  • Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit

    A set of how-to sheets for carrying out advocacy and fact sheets on the current issues Bread for the World is working on.

    For new and current Bread grassroots hunger activists.

    Ideal as a starter toolkit for new Bread activists or as a set of updates for current activists.


  • Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017

    Unnecessarily long prison sentences, combined with the lack of rehabilitative programs for people in prison, exacerbate hunger, poverty, and existing inequalities.

    Overly harsh mandatory minimum prison sentences have contributed to the rapid increase of our country’s prison population. The...

  • Health Care Is a Hunger Issue

    Learn more about the principles that Bread for the World supports regarding health reform.


Changing Climate, Changing Farmers

February 7, 2017


From the Blog