Though I wasn't born in Arkansas, I've lived here since I was four and consider it my home. Growing up in a small town, I've witnessed poverty and hunger with classmates, participated in local food drives, and had my parents teach me valuable lessons on how to give to others. When I decided to go to college, the best fit for me seemed to be Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, AR.
In college it's harder to know the hunger and poverty around you. As a college student, everyone seems broke and hungry. Even though I was a little more removed from actually seeing those going through hunger hardships than I was growing up, I continued participating in food drives with local college clubs.
If you keep up with the Heifer blog then you see the Weekly Article Roundup blog where I try to discuss blogs that we've written here, other articles that we pass around the office and current trends in the world. Yesterday, I received this article about America's Poorest Cities, and two of the cities on the list were in Arkansas. After reading it, I knew that I didn't want to wait until Friday to post it.
Here recently, I've discussed U.S. poverty a couple of different times. The fact that 1 out of 6 persons in America is living in poverty, how 14.7 million children currently live in poverty, and how Heifer has just recently participated in the first Little Rock Heathy Food and Active Living Summit.
Working at Heifer, I know there is a lot of poverty in the U.S. and globally, but when it is pointed out in the town you spent four years in, it's a little shocking. My college town of Jonesboro, AR was number eight on the list, while number two was Pine Bluff, AR, which is just around 30 minutes from Little Rock, AR, where Heifer has its headquarters. I was a little stunned to say the least.
Jonesboro, AR, with a population of 120,365, has a median household income of $35,526, and 25.5% of the population lives below the federal poverty line. Around 2.6 million people in the U.S. slipped below the poverty line in 2010, which is defined by an income of $22,314 for a family of four. In Pine Bluff, AR, which has a population of 99,871, the median household income is $33,446, and more than 22% of the city's residents live below the poverty line.
Many times it's hard to see hunger, and unless you're experiencing it, it can be easy to forget. So how do we all take responsibility to help end hunger in our communities? Begin to learn the facts in your hometowns. Find out what the need is. Spread the word that hunger happens to more people than we know.
Check out www.heifer.org/usa to see what Heifer is doing to help end hunger in the U.S.