Poverty: 'No One's Proud To Get Government Cheese'

By WGBH News & Wires


Dec. 19, 2011

food pantry

In November 2011, veterans line up at a Greater Boston Food Bank mobile food pantry. (Cristina Quinn/WGBH)

BOSTON — New data from the 2010 Census suggest that one in every two Americans has fallen into poverty, or earns wages considered to be low-income.

Making matters worse: Howard Manly, executive editor of The Bay State Banner, said on "The Callie Crossley Show" that the people now considered poor are the ones least likely to seek assistance.

"No one's really proud to get $200 a month in free government cheese," he said. "They want to go out and get jobs — and they in fact have jobs; it's just that it's very difficult to make ends meet."

The new data raised the question, Manly said, of whether the government should do more during tough economic times, especially for middle- and working-class families who are technically "impoverished" but don't qualify for assistance. 

The low-income threshold is roughly $45,000 for a family of four. Children were most likely to be poor or low-income — about 57 percent — followed by seniors over 65. However, some news outlets have raised questions about the data.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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