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

  • Election Resources

    One of the best times to raise the issues of hunger and poverty is during election campaigns. Engage candidates in your state/district on hunger and poverty using our elections resources.
  • Racially Equitable Responses to Hunger During COVID-19 and Beyond

    By Marlysa D. Gamblin and Kathleen King

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as when a person or household does not have regular, reliable access to the foods needed for good health. Black, Indigenous, and Other People of Color (BIPOC) have historically had higher...

  • Fact Sheet: COVID-19 Global Pandemic, Better Nutrition Protects Lives

    With the coronavirus now spreading in low-resource contexts and new waves of infection expected in the coming year, better nutrition for vulnerable people is more important than ever.

For Faith

  • Finding Hope, Ending Hunger on Both Sides of the Border: A Bilingual Latino Devotional

    Devotional writers challenge us to feel the Spirit of God within us and to hear God’s urgent call to demand justice so all can put food on the table.
  • The Bible on Health as a Hunger Issue

    “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in faith.” These words from Colossians 2:6 remind us of the faith that is active in love for our neighbors.

    The Bible on...

  • 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...

For Advocacy


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From the Blog