The rise of poverty

Over the past four years, just under half of the people who have been our guests at the Monadnock Area Transitional Shelter have been children. But in 2013 alone, 17 of the 27 guests were children. And the trend of having so many youth in shelters seems to be growing around our state, as well as nationally, according to various recent media sites

In July, statistics gathered for the 25th edition of Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data Book showed that New Hampshire’s standing as a good state in which to raise children dropped from being first in the nation — a position the state held for 10 years! — to being fourth nationally, in part due to a fall in the state’s economic rating. The study showed that “the rate of New Hampshire children living in poverty increased from roughly 9 percent to 16 percent” over a six-year period, according to the Kids Count website.

Nationally, the number of children living in poverty also continues to rise sharply. And research confirms that when children grow up in poverty, their ability to learn is compromised, often resulting in poor physical and mental health.

Ratings for all states are based on a series of 16 indicators in four areas: economic security, education, health, and family and community. Data is gathered from government agencies, and based on the most recent state and national annual changes. Measurements are based on a family with two parents and two children earning an annual household income of $25,000.

The compiled data showed that New Hampshire’s children living in poverty rose more sharply than the national average, from 33,000 children in 2011 to 42,000 children in 2012, or 9,000 more children. Given that our total state population is 1.32 million, this is a significant increase.

Several community leaders have created an adjunct to the New Hampshire Kids Count organization, focusing on wiping out childhood hunger. The goal of this group is to provide access to nutritional food by enhancing the food system and ensuring economic security for all families. Surprisingly, the number of children qualifying for the state’s summer nutrition program rose 275 percent between 2011 and 2013.

It is the hope and goal of MATS to do all that we can to slow the number of people struggling to make ends meet, and to ensure that they are able to return to a life of self-sufficiency.

Wish list: reliable car; gas cards; cards from Shaw’s, Ocean State Job Lots, RiteAid or CVS; diapers size 3 and up. Call the MATS office at 924-5033 for pick-up, or mail cards to PO Box 3053, Peterborough.

Hope Pettegrew of Hancock is a volunteer for MATS.

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