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Poverty in Oakland County

By Lisa Brody
News Editor
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In Bloomfield Hills, out of a total student population of 5,154, they had 377 students receive free lunches, and 68 receive reduced school lunches, according to Shira Good, director of communications and community relations for Bloomfield Hills Schools. The district serves Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, portions of Pontiac and West Bloomfield.

Rochester Community Schools, which serves students in Rochester, the majority of Rochester Hills and Oakland Township, and portions of Orion Township, Auburn Hills, Shelby Township and Washington Township, had 1,440 students in the 2015-2016 school year qualify for free lunches, and 297 students qualify for reduced lunches, out of a total student population of 14,764 students.

"The United States has the second highest child poverty rate among 35 industrialized countries despite having the largest economy in the world. A child in the United States has a 1 in 5 chance of being poor and the younger she is the poorer she is likely to be," noted the Children's Defense Fund. "Growing up poor has lifelong negative consequences, decreasing the likelihood of graduating from high school and increasing the likelihood of becoming a poor adult, suffering from poor health, and becoming involved in the criminal justice system."

The Children's Defense Fund asserted that the best anti-poverty strategy is to make sure that parents and caregivers who are fit to work are able to find jobs that pay them enough to support a family. "A job does not necessarily guarantee a livable income; nearly one in three poor children lives in a family with an adult who works full-time year round. No family with a parent working full-time should live in poverty," is one of the tenets of the fund, first by increasing the value of the minimum wage. The second is by improving the country's safety net programs and refundable tax credits, which could lift 8.2 million children from poverty.

"Housing subsidies only reach one in four needy families with children," they state. "While the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) reaches a large percent of poor families, millions of children are hungry because benefits are not enough to ensure adequate nutrition."

Feeding America, which said it provides food assistance to an estimated 46.5 million people annually, which includes 12 million children and seven million seniors, said that 61 percent of food-insecure households participated in at least one of the three major federal food assistance programs, whether the National School Lunch Program, SNAP, or supplemental nutritional program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in the previous month. Of their client households, 72 percent live at or bellow the federal poverty level.

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