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When you think of Oregon and food, you probably think organic chicken, kale chips and other signs of a strong local food movement. What probably doesn't come to mind? Food stamps.

And yet, 21 percent of Oregon's population – that's one out of every five residents – relies on food stamps to get by. And like many people across the country, these Oregon families who have come to rely on federal food assistance program for meals are learning to make do with less as of this month.

CT-N

The gap between fuel prices and what low-income people can afford to pay to heat their homes in Connecticut has more than tripled in recent years. Operation Fuel, the nonprofit which provides energy assistance to thousands of households in the state, said the number of residents in need is growing. 

Worldwide, roughly 1 in 8 people suffered from chronic hunger from 2011 to 2013, according to a new report from three U.N. food agencies.

They concluded that 842 million people didn't get enough food to lead healthy lives in that period, a slight drop from the 868 million in the previous report.

The modest change was attributed to several factors, from economic growth in developing countries to investments in agriculture. And in some countries, people have benefited from money sent home by migrant workers. But the gains were unevenly distributed, the report's authors say.

Episode 487: The Trouble With The Poverty Line

Sep 22, 2013

According to the government, there are 46.5 million Americans who live below the poverty line. In other words, that's how many people are officially poor. But pretty much everyone who studies poverty agrees: The way we arrive at this figure is completely wrong.

On today's show, we figure out how we got here, why still measure poverty in a way that so many people agree is wrong, and how could we do it better.

For more, see our stories:

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted Thursday to slash $40 billion from the federal food stamp program.

GOP lawmakers cited what they said was widespread abuse of the program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which is intended to help poor individuals and families buy groceries.

The vote to cut food stamps came on a party line vote of 217-200.

"It's wrong for working, middle-class people to pay" for abuse of the program, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said.

Ana Radelat / The Connecticut Mirror

Congress is heading into a major fight over food stamps. The battle highlights sharp ideological differences over a program that helps to feed about 220,000 people in Connecticut.

Conservative House Republicans, especially members of the Tea Party, say the food stamp program has become bloated and discourages people from finding jobs. They propose cutting $40 billion over the next decade from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the official name for food stamps.

The College Kid

Rico Saccoccio is a junior at Fordham University in the Bronx. He's from a middle-class family in Connecticut and he spent the summer living at home with his parents, who cover about $15,000 a year in his college costs.

According to the U.S. government, Saccoccio is living in poverty. The $8,000 he earns doing odd jobs puts him well below the $11,945 poverty threshold for an individual. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau recently reported that more than half of all college students who are living off campus and not at home are poor.

A Secret In The Suburbs

May 21, 2013
Eduardo Mueses, Flickr Creative Commons

Poverty is a problem you tend to think of affecting very urban and very rural areas of America. But a new Brookings study shows a shocking fact: that over the last decade, the poor population in the suburbs has grown by about 60 percent. That national trend follows the same path as local metro areas are seeing, and the numbers aren’t just due to the effects of the economic downturn.  

We explore that subject and check in with Elaine Zimmerman from the Connecticut Commission on Children to see what the impact of all this is on Connecticut’s kids.

Hyper-Local Aid To Africa

Feb 20, 2013
Chion Wolf

The idea ‘For what you pay to feed your cat, you can save lives in my country.’ That...set a fire under Quinnipiac Professor Dennis Richardson.

He works in remote villages in Cameroon to aid a community of about 1,000 people.

On the opposite side of Africa, student and faculty of the University of Hartford are helping remote farmers create sustainable agriculture businesses in rural Kenya.

A report released Friday says more than 720,000 people are living at or near the poverty level in Connecticut.

Photo by Chion Wolf

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro is reacting strongly against a decision by the House Agriculture Committee to cut $33 billion over 10 years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program known as SNAP.

46 million Americans rely on the food stamp program. A majority of them live in households with incomes below the poverty line.

The legislature’s labor committee will hear testimony this week on a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage. After last year’s successful passage of paid sick leave there are indications it may be a tough political battle. Many businesses also say it’s too soon in a weak economic recovery to further raise their costs. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

House Speaker Chris Donovan, introducing his legislation to raise the minimum wage, invoked some high profile bi-partisan support.

El Sistema

Jan 27, 2012
Emily Moran

Thousands of children struggling against poverty find hope - and the path to a better life - through classical music.

Its not some pipedream...but a very real and inspiring story of El Sistema - The System: a music phenomenon in Venezuela that’s touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of kids and captured the attention of the world.

Today, we talk with the author of a book about El Sistema. We’ll also speak with educators who are using music to transform the lives of students right here in Connecticut.

A Look at Homelessness

Jan 25, 2012
davco9200, creative commons

Bridgeport’s Board of Education has appointed Paul Vallas, interim superintendent, part of the state’s takeover of the struggling school system. Vallas is a nationally recognized education reformer who’s spearheaded turnaround efforts in Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans. 

Departing Bridgeport superintendent John Ramos joined a panel of school leaders earlier this month to talk about the effect of inadequate education funding on disadvantaged students. 

Poverty in the Suburbs

Nov 15, 2011
Chion Wolf

By the end of  2010, over 15 percent of the nation’s population lived below the federal poverty line— that's just over $22 thousand dollars for a family of four.

Over a ten-year span, the US saw the poor population grow by 12.3 million, driving the total number of Americans in poverty to a historic high of 46.2 million.

...and the number of those poor people living in the suburbs increased by 25%. New research from the Brookings Institute explores how poverty is shifting from inner cities to the suburbs.

Andre Dubus III

Oct 24, 2011
Jacket design: Evan Gaffney Design (photo by Chion Wolf)

After their parents divorced in the 1970s, Andre Dubus III and his three siblings grew up with their exhausted working mother in a depressed Massachusetts mill town saturated with drugs and crime. On Sundays, Andre spent time with his dad, an author and college professor. Today we have a conversation with Dubus, the House of Sand and Fog author, about his new memoir Townie, about a clash of worlds, physical violence, and the failures and triumphs of love.

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

The city of Dallas has been testing these changes and Jeff Cohen from member station WNPR has this report.

Our roller coaster economy has been a leveler - throwing the formerly rich and lower income people into the same basket. We thought we'd talk about debt, credit cards and bankruptcy with Mitchell Allen, author of A Survival Guide to Debt. He has been a debt counselor to many.

State Wants To Feed Hungry Kids This Summer

May 17, 2011
Flickr user sampsyo

If Tim Cipriano has his way, food trucks won't just be for trendy urbanites anymore.

"It's like the big craze out there so we're looking to capitalize on the craze and get one donated to us that's similar to an ice cream truck that would be outfitted with refrigeration," Cipriano says.

Cipriano is a chef and director of food services in New Haven's public schools. He wants to use the truck to deliver meals to areas that aren't covered by the summer food service program. Right now, most of the food is served at schools, parks and summer camps.

Portraits of Homelessness

Feb 8, 2011
Chion Wolf, WNPR

Recent reports show a 3% increase of people in shelters in Connecticut from 2009 to 2010. Of this population, more than half of all families and 40% of single adults in shelters report being homeless for first time  And in these harsh winter months, even overflow homeless shelters are overflowing. 

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