Study: More kids forgoing meals due to economic status

Poverty Report shows 55% of children below poverty line had to give up meal daily because of families’ economic hardship, up 38% from 2009.

poverty metro 88224 (photo credit: Jerusalem Post Archives)
poverty metro 88224
(photo credit: Jerusalem Post Archives)
More than half of the country’s children who live below the poverty line were forced to give up on at least one meal a day over the past year due to their families’ economic difficulties, a report published Wednesday by the humanitarian aid organization Latet has revealed.
Based on data collected from more than 100 food aid charities countrywide and on in-depth interviews with individuals and families living below the poverty line, the organization’s Alternative Poverty Report for 2010 shows that some 55 percent of the estimated 850,300 children in this category had to forgo a nutritious meal every day because of their families’ economic status, an increase of 38% over the previous year.
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“During the past 10 years, poverty in this country has significantly increased,” commented Latet director Eran Weintraub, adding that the increase was not just in numbers, as presented by the National Insurance Institute’s (NII) Annual Poverty Report, but also in the scale and scope of the type of poverty faced by those from weaker socioeconomic circles.
According to the 2009 Poverty Report, which was released by the NII last month, more than 15,000 families, or 123,500 individuals, joined the ranks of the poor in 2009, and overall roughly 435,100 families – 1,774,800 Israelis – lived below the poverty line in 2009, compared to 1,651,300 in 2008.
Despite the large increases brought on by the global economic crisis that set in at the tail-end of 2008, Weintraub pointed out Tuesday that for those living below the poverty line, recession or economic growth had made little difference in their troubled lives.
“Poverty has deepened, and gaps in society between rich and poor have undoubtedly widened,” he observed, adding that the economic policies of the present government had left the poor both “abandoned and neglected.”
“The poor in Israel have no political power and no voice,” pointed out Weintraub, adding that the aim of the Alternative Poverty Report was to focus on the “personal hardships faced by those in this country who live in poverty and to update the situation for 2010 based on reports from the field.”
This is the eighth year in a row that the organization has published an alternative take on poverty in response to the state’s data-based analysis, Weintraub said.
In addition to those children who were forced to give up food over the past year, the Latet study shows that 75% of the adult poor are forced to skip meals due to their economic situation, an increase of some 21% compared to 2009, while one out of two needy families lives with the fear that they could be evicted from their home due to failure to pay the rent.
The report also noted that one in five children is forced to drop out of school and sent to work in order to help the family make ends meet, with some 83% of needy children not receiving dental care and 70% not given medical treatment. Among the adult poor, 71% said they cannot afford medicines or essential medical services, an increase of 115% over the last five years.
Additional data from the Latet report suggests that 7% of needy children pick up food from the floor because they are hungry and 8% are forced to steal food. Also, revealed the report, roughly half (48%) of these children survive on bread and butter only, and more than half of them wear unsuitable shoes. Many do not sleep in their own beds.
For the elderly needy population, the situation is painted equally as bleak, with two out of three pensioners saying they do not leave their homes due to their economic situation.