Indiana’s poverty rate was higher than the national average in 2010. A group of officials and professors in the Muncie community will talk about Indiana’s poverty problem and try to break some poverty stereotypes tonight in Pruis Hall, said Peggy Shaffer, assistant director of Freshman Connections.
“The purpose of the panel discussion is to do just that: to look at stereotypes about poverty and try to get some information out there that’s accurate,” Shaffer said.
Coming in at 16.3 percent, Indiana was more than a full percent above the U.S. poverty average of 15.1 percent.
Indiana’s child poverty rate, 26.3 percent, showed an even larger difference from the national average of 22 percent.
Freshmen were required to read Jeannette Wall’s “The Glass Castle” over the summer. the book was a memoir of Wall’s childhood, a time when her family struggled to find food on a daily basis.
the panel will be at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
the event is a part of the Freshman Connections program that has a theme of “shattering stereotypes of poverty.”
the panelists include Lois Rockhill, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank; Eva Zygmunt-Fillwalk, associate professor of elementary education; Glenn Stone, professor and chair of the social work department; and Cecil Bohanon, professor of economics.
the panelists were chosen in several different fields in order to provide different perspectives relating to the issue of poverty, Shaffer said.
each panelist will have 10 to 15 minutes to discuss a topic related to their expertise and then the discussion will be open to the audience.
Rockhill said she will focus more on Indiana poverty statistics.
Every four years, Second Harvest participates in a hunger study in which they interview around 300 people in Central Indiana who are using food pantries and kitchens. the information from the interviews goes to a national group that collects and analyzes the data and then writes a report.
“I will pull some of the information from that report that I think is most interesting, that might work well in the whole topic of shattering stereotypes about poverty,” Rockhill said. “I think that’s what I’ll probably look at and hopefully bring some new information to people in the audience, at least about the people that we are serving.”
According to statistics from Second Harvest, one in six Americans are food insecure. Rockhill defines being food insecure as “a term to indicate people who do not have enough resources to obtain the food that they need for adequate nutrition to live healthy lives.”
she said these are not people who are hungry every day, for the most part, but “they are people in America who do not have enough food to eat on a regular basis.”
because of this statistic, Rockhill believes the discussion panel would be especially beneficial to politicians.
“That’s a big piece of the constituent that have voting abilities,” she said. “For any of our voting positions, I would think that people that are trying to get in any office through voting elections would be interested to know these things, to see what their constituents are dealing with.”
Shaffer said she is expecting to see a good discussion and is hoping the audience will ask questions.
“I think [people will be able] to get a better picture of who the poor are, why they’re poor, to dispel some of the stereotypes about poverty, and I think we’ll come away with a good understanding particularly of poverty in Indiana,” she said.