"What you find is that people in poverty often have to make very hard choices between necessities. A classic trade-off is the "heat or eat" dilemma — in winter you have to decide whether you're going to pay for heat or get food."
"For households with kids, 50 percent experienced food insecurity in 2008. What people wind up doing is buying food that fills them up but is not nutritious, because it's cheaper. You also often find in low-income neighborhoods that there aren't supermarkets — the big markets avoid those areas."
"If you look across the ages of 20 to 75, three-quarters of Americans will experience a year of poverty. This is an event that affects the vast majority of us. Things happen to people that they didn't anticipate, like this recession. When these things happen, there's not a whole lot in place to protect people."
"We've always had this feeling that the individual is responsible and the government is a last resort. This has worked against the idea that social welfare programs can be very helpful; there has been a tremendous amount of stigma around them."
"Another big reason the U.S. does so little is because our country is very heterogeneous in terms of race and ethnicity. The more homogenous a nation, the more likely it is to provide social safety nets. Poverty gets overlapped with this issue of race — people say this is a black or a Hispanic issue — it's your problem and not our problem. As a result, we're a reluctant welfare state."
"The WIC program as a whole in Missouri provides only $10 a month for fruits and vegetables. And they just increased it from $8."
"The United States has one of the weakest social safety nets of any of the industrialized countries. It's why our poverty rates are among the highest. We do very little to protect people — especially families and children — from poverty, and over the past 30 years we've been cutting back."
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