Missouri activists tackle poverty

Apr 9, 2013

Activists from across the state met in Jefferson City today to discuss ways to end poverty.

Peter Edelman speaks at the 2013 Poverty Summit in Jefferson City, Mo., Tuesday, April 09, 2013. Edelman is a lifelong antipoverty advocate who worked for the Clinton administration.

Missourians to End Poverty hosted a summit today to help Missourians help other Missourians.

Almost sixteen percent of Missouri citizens live in poverty, and a third of those are children. Jessica Long helped organize the conference, and says poverty is widespread.

“Every community in Missouri has poverty,” said Jessica Long, marketing manager of Missouri Association for Community Action. “All of them. So if you look at the reduced lunch rates throughout the state of Missouri there isn’t a single county where it’s zero.”

One of the ways the conference is working to end poverty is training people to go back to their communities and work for positive change.

Eileen Wallace, executive director of Possibilities in Rochester, Minnesota, says people working together can make great changes in their communities.

“We do have an obligation to our sisters and our brothers, we aren’t in this alone,” Wallace said. “We’re built for community, we’re hardwired to be in relationship, and we have a responsibility to each other.”

Many people at the conference already lead anti-poverty organizations in their areas. The groups were placed at tables by region, to meet people they can collaborate with. Dianna Moore works for Central Missouri Community Action in Columbia.

“This opportunity that happens every two years is a wonderful way for us to work together in collaboration with others that have our same mission and goal,” said Dianna Moore, who works for Central Missouri Community Action in Columbia.

The summit will hold a follow-up webinar with Wallace on April 23 at 10 AM.