Poverty is the scarcity or the lack of a certain amount of necessary possessions or money. Poverty is multifaceted. Poverty affects social, economic and political elements. Absolute poverty, extreme poverty or destitution refers to the complete lack of the means necessary to meet basic personal needs such as food, clothing and shelter.

The federal poverty level is determined annually by the U.S. Census Bureau using a formula established in 1962 which allotted $18.60 a week for a family of four with two school-aged children – or $143.47 in today’s dollars. That 1962 food plan on which the current level is based relied heavily on cereals, dry beans, peas, nuts and potato groups and the selection of the less expensive items only intended for “emergency use.” The 1962 plan did not include the cost of meat, fruit, vegetables, dairy, diapers, cleaning supplies, hygiene items or other supplies. This information came from the Center for Poverty Research.

The overall poverty rate in Kansas is about 12 percent as of 2018 data from TalkPoverty.org

This percentage may seem fairly low, but Kansas’ population is more than 2.8 million people. This means that more than 336,000 people are living below poverty guidelines.

The Leavenworth Child Abuse Prevention Council (LCAPC) is partnering with NEK-CAP, Inc. to offer a Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS) to expand the community’s knowledge on poverty. CAPS bridges the gap from misconception to understanding. The simulation is not a game. It is an experience to help people understand the barriers and frustrations while cultivating empathy when working with those living in poverty. The object of CAPS is to sensitize participants to the realities faced by low-income people.

On March 29, LCAPC is hosting a Poverty Simulation at the Riverfront Community Center from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact lvcapc@gmail.com to reserve your spot.

Poverty affects many people in our community. Our nation and community have many resources to assist those living in poverty. There are several food pantries, the Women, Infants & Children program at the health department and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP and formally known as food stamps. There is a local Resource Directory located at the Leavenworth Public Library for anyone to pick up. If you are interested in finding this resource online, contact the K-State Research and Extension – Leavenworth County office at 613 Holiday Plaza in Lansing, by phone 913-364-5700 or by email at chelsim@ksu.edu

Join us for this event and develop your own understanding for the purpose of empathy on the topic of poverty.

Chelsi Myer is a family and consumer sciences agent for K-State Research and Extension – Leavenworth County.