Ending Hunger in America, 2014 Hunger Report Introduction - Page 16

INTRODUCTION people cope with difficult circumstances. But families will remain on shaky ground without a clear path to real opportunity. President Obama has spoken of “building ladders of opportunity” for people to reach the middle class—a concept that sends a message of hope, particularly to young people. As the president said in January 2013, when he took the oath of office for his second term, “We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else.”38 It is still possible for someone born into poverty in the United States to escape that fate as an adult. But the rungs on the ladder of economic mobility are getting farther apart, especially those at the bottom. Inequalities—not only of living standards, but of opportunity—start early for children in food-insecure households. Babies whose mothers suffer from hunger or poor nutrition during pregnancy are more likely to enter the world with a low birth weight. Children who are damaged physically and intellectually by hunger face higher risks of developing chronic health problems, doing poorly in school, dropping out, getting involved in crime, losing jobs and being unemployed, and finally passing the whole cycle on to the next generation.39 Ensuring that all children have access to a high-quality education is one of the most important investments a nation can make. Education can still get people pretty far up the ladder. But U.S. schools do more to perpetuate social and economic inequalities than reduce them. High-quality schools in the United States are overwhelmingly located in wealthy and middle-class neighborhoods. Children who attend such schools perform well on achievement BOX i.3 THE CIRCLE OF PROTECTION Since early 2011, Bread for the World has worked with many people of faith to create a Circle of Protection around federal programs that reduce hunger and poverty. Many members of the House of Representatives have pushed for deep cuts to these programs, but the actual cuts have come to only about 1 percent of what had been proposed. While food insecurity rates surged in 2008, hunger did not continue to increase after that—even though unemployment did. The Circle of Protection campaign helped maintain the safety net programs and moderated the Great Recession’s impact on hunger. Laura Elizabeth Pohl for Bread for the World Bread for the World members from Pennsylvania discuss the Circle of Protection in the office of Sen. Robert Casey during Lobby Day 2011. www.bread.org/institute? ? 2014 Hunger Report? 25 n