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New Census Data Reveals More Than 46 Million Americans Live in Poverty

Washington, DC, September 17, 2013

The U.S. Census Bureau released annual poverty figures today, revealing that 15 percent of Americans—including one in five children—lived in poverty in 2012.

"With poverty holding at such a high rate, the importance of federal safety net programs is clear," said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. "The figures could have been significantly worse if it were not for federal programs helping to keep more Americans from falling into poverty."

At 46.5 million, this was the second time in the last five years that we did not see a significant increase in poverty. This information follows the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Sept. 4 announcement that 14.5 percent of American households—including 16 million children—suffered from food insecurity in 2012.

The official poverty numbers do not account for programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), or the Child Tax Credit (CTC). If the data accounted for SNAP, it would show the poverty rate as 1.3 percentage points lower.

“Federally funded programs play a tremendous role in reducing poverty and helping to keep hunger at bay, but the official data often excludes their impact,” added Beckmann.

This data comes as the House prepares to vote Sept. 19 on the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013 (HR 3102), which would cut nearly $40 billion from SNAP.  

“These programs have proven, time and again, that they work. We must let Congress know that programs that prevent children from going to bed hungry must be protected, not gutted,” Beckmann continued. “This bill is an abdication of our national responsibility. We urge members of the House to vote ‘no’ on the bill and protect the moral and economic stability of our country.”

Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.

Media Contact:

Fito Moreno, Interim Media Relations Manager, 202-688-1138


Next press release:

Bread for the World to Convene Religious Leaders on Eve of Pope Francis’ Visit to U.S.

Washington, DC, May 29, 2015 – Bread for the World will gather more than 100 leaders of various faiths Sept. 21-22 in Washington, D.C., to reflect on Pope Francis’ teachings on hunger and poverty. They will join Catholic leaders in welcoming the pope to the United States and commit their faith communities to help make hunger and poverty a national priority. Read more »

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