• STUDY: Poverty rate for African Americans, children increase in Shelby County

    By: Kirstin Garriss

    Updated:

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - More people are living in poverty in our community. A new study shows the poverty rate is almost 28% in Memphis.

    These numbers are much higher compared to the poverty rates for the state and nation. We're talking about a 15% increase in the poverty level in Shelby County compared to the year before.

    To put that into perspective - experts said that's almost 200,000 people who are working and may not know where their next meal will come from.

    Cathy Pope, president, and CEO of Mid-South Food Bank told FOX13, “We’re seeing a lot of single parents, we’re seeing a lot of seniors, and we’re seeing a lot of children who are going home from school hungry for that weekend.”

    The Mid-South Food Bank said that’s a snapshot of who they're supporting across Shelby County. 

    Pope said, “We are actually seeing more of a need, therefore, we have more of a need to fill the warehouse and then get the food out to the community.”

    A new University of Memphis study shows those are the same groups of people who are living in poverty. 


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    The data shows the number of Caucasians living in poverty increased by 7%.

    African Americans had the highest increase with 20%, but the number of Hispanics living in poverty decreased by 20%. 

    Elena Delavaga with the University of Memphis told us, “People in Memphis who are in poverty have jobs so it’s that those jobs don’t pay enough to lift a family out of poverty or a person out of poverty.”

    Delagava said the childhood poverty rate is now almost 45% – that’s a 15% increase from the year before. 

    “Children in poverty are the result of not paying workers enough, not providing health care benefits to workers, not having health care, not having daycare not having public transportation that’s why we have so many children in poverty,” Delavaga explained to FOX13. 

    Mid-South Food Bank recently doubled the size of their warehouse to help more people. 

    Last year alone – they provided more than 16 million pounds of food to our community.

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