The Stigmas of Poverty and Food InsecurityMarch 16, 2017 | 11:11 am |
A common misperception is that people who are poor are simply not hard working hard enough. The terms “lazy” and “unmotivated” are often aimed at folks living at or below the poverty line, with the implication being that their financial status is just something they’ve brought upon themselves. Struggling with poverty and food insecurity is too often viewed as a choice or consequence rather than an unfortunate circumstance.
A study, conducted by News Public Radio, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University Kennedy’s School, found that approximately 52% of Americans believe that the main cause of poverty is a lack of aspirations and motivation. Another 35% of the population believes this to be a minor cause of poverty. Most of the participants stated that, regardless of circumstance or background, hard work is enough to pull anyone out of their financial struggles.
The study also found, however, that most low-income people have a strong desire to work, but are unable to find jobs that provide adequate pay or health insurance. Therefore, they still need to rely on government welfare programs to survive. The study concluded that many women in low-income families strongly dislike the need to utilize welfare and often feel degraded because of it, despite previous claims that those of poor income feel that they are entitled to available financial assistance.
The stigma of poverty can often deter people in need from taking advantage of programs designed to assist them and improve their quality of living. They fear being labeled or seen as an inferior part of society, rather than just someone who is just doing whatever they can to survive. These fears too often prevent non-profit organizations from getting the food and funds they offer to those who really need it and impede the fight against hunger and poverty.
Jaclyn Lindsey, co-founder of Kindness.org, outlines the effects of social distance and the loneliness that often comes with it due to these false perceptions. She emphasizes that making generalizations about people who suffer from food insecurity leads to isolation, which can worsen their already difficult circumstances.
The ways you can get involved and move towards change are easy. Giving back can be as simple as a random act of kindness or lending a helping hand. Fighting negative stigmas about food insecurity and poverty will help bring us closer to winning the fight against hunger.
You can visit Kindness.org for ideas on how to perpetuate kindness and equality or visit our Take Action page to learn how you can get involved in our fight against hunger.