poverty

Leslie Many

The new book “Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation" includes contributions from 36 "major contemporary writers" including Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Russo and Roxane Gay.

A talk with the creator and director of two new shows that are premiering at the Kansas City Fringe Festival this weekend. One show was inspired by a box of old letters; the other by folk music.

Plus: there used to be a poor farm at 119th and Ridgeview Road; it was another time period's model for helping the homeless. The story of Johnson County's poor farm and the attitude towards poverty that it represents.

Guests:

Marleah Campbell / KCUR 89.3

Former relief pitcher Jeff Montgomery saved more games for the Royals than any other player to step on the mound. Today, we talk with the slinger-turned-broadcaster about his experiences with the boys in blue.

Marshall Pledges To Fight For Federal Food Funding

Apr 17, 2017
Bryan Thompson / Kansas News Service

During a Friday visit to Junction City that included a stop at a food pantry site, U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall said he would work to maintain funding for programs that feed the hungry.

Marshall represents Kansas’ 1st District, which includes two counties — Geary and Riley — with the state’s highest rates of food insecurity. Residents of those counties also are more likely than most people across the country to lack reliable access to affordable, nutritious food.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The relationship between schools and the communities to which they belong is crucial.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

When Kansas City Public Schools hired Mark Bedell to be the district’s next superintendent, one of the board members sent him a book to read, “Complex Justice,” about the Missouri v. Jenkins desegregation case.

In the 1980s, the courts ordered KCPS to pay teachers more and build state-of-the-art schools – at the time, what people thought it would take to bring white, suburban families back to the district.

According to national statistics, when rent goes up, so does the number of evictions. What does this look like locally? From 2000 to 2015, Kansas City saw an average of 27 evictions per day. As part of an ongoing conversation about Kansas City's changing rental market, we discuss the causes and consequences of eviction.

Guests:

In Kansas City, there is a connection between where people live and the economic realities of their lives. Today, we air a conversation hosted by American Public Square that looks to understand how poverty, race and place interact to affect the people who live in urban neighborhoods. 

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Except for the chain of events it spurred in the victim's life, the assault and robbery of Brad Grabs 14 years ago in the Northeast neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas, would not have been particularly notable.

Despite the ensuing anger and fear, Grabs says prayer and reflection on the events of that Sunday afternoon led him to believe his assaulters weren’t “bad kids,” he told KCUR’s Brian Ellison on a recent episode of Up To Date. They were youngsters caught in a bad situation with little opportunity for positive growth.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

After being mugged by two teenagers, one educator sought understanding instead of revenge, and founded The Learning Club of KCK, which tutors at-risk children in the neighborhoods where they live. Then, the 2016 elections were kind to marijuana, just not in Missouri. Advocate groups NORML KC and New Approach Missouri are looking to change that.

MoBikeFed / Flickr - CC

Any hopes Gov. Jay Nixon may have about patching things up with Missouri’s top public defender will have to be put on hold for a while longer.

Budget tensions came to a head last week when Michael Barrett, director of the state’s public defender’s office, assigned the governor to defend an assault case in Cole County, Missouri.

KIDS COUNT/aecf.org

Both Kansas and Missouri stayed in the middle tier of states in the new KIDS COUNT survey released Tuesday, but Kansas had the third-largest drop in child well-being ratings in the nation.

Overall, Kansas fell from 15th place last year to 19th.  Missouri slipped from 26th to 28th. 

Health scores improved for Missouri kids but slid 11 places for Kansas. 

Missouri came up three positions on economic well-being, Kansas held steady at No. 9.

Since becoming a Kansas City, Missouri police officer in the 1950s, Alvin Brooks has spent a lifetime working to reduce crime and injustice in his city. Even as we look back at all he’s already done, we ask the equal rights activist what Kansas City still needs to do.

On Tuesday, Alvin Brooks was awarded at lifetime achievement award from the South Kansas City Alliance. He is also this year's recipient of the Truman Public Service Award.

Feeding America

A new study of food insecurity finds some familiar patterns in Kansas. But there are also a few surprises.

Every year when the County Health Rankings are released, they show southeast Kansas and Wyandotte County as having persistent problems with lower average incomes and higher poverty levels. So it should come as no surprise that those same places have a high degree of food insecurity, which is defined as a lack of reliable access to adequate food.

Courtesy Iola Unified School District 257

Delivering meals to low-income people is a long-standing way to improve nutrition, but a project in Iola Unified School District 257 will bring the whole diner.

Kathy Koehn, nutrition and wellness coordinator at USD 257, said students taking vocational classes in the district are working to remodel an older school bus as a “traveling bistro” where children who may not have access to healthy food during the summer can get lunch.

Buying in bulk and taking advantage of sales are great ways to save money on basic household goods, like toilet paper. But those savings are out of reach for many families who need them the most. We find out why poor people are paying more for toilet paper…and just about everything else.

Guest:

Millions of Americans are evicted every year because they can’t make the rent. For poor families already struggling with finances, the repercussions of being evicted can be crushing.

Guest:

Andrea Tudhope / / KCUR 89.3

Last November, for the first time, Kansas City child care workers spoke out about their low wages, as they officially joined fast food and other low wage workers in the Fight for 15, a movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

A superintendent on the other side of the state has earned the national spotlight for figuring out "how to make school work for poor kids" (as The Washington Post puts it). What's the secret, and could it translate to Kansas City?

Guest:

In the Landry Park series for teen readers, local author Bethany Hagen pictures the year 2300. From class warfare to energy sustainability issues, it's a dark vision informed by the author's own experience growing up in Kansas City.

Guests:

  • Bethany Hagen, author, Landry Park and Jubilee Manor

Kyle Palmer / KCUR 89.3

Volunteers began gathering early Monday morning at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Kansas City, Kansas. 

They braved icy roads and single-digit temperatures but none doubted the reason they were there. 

"This is one of the biggest celebrations of the year," said Frank Lavender, a lead organizer for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Motorcade/March for Hunger. "It gives us the opportunity to make the community aware of the all the people who need food. We use this day to get the word out."

U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr-CC

Catholic Charities of Northeastern Kansas is serving significantly more residents at its food pantries than in previous years.

The organization served nearly 175,000 individuals in need of food over the last 12 months. That's a 25 percent increase over the previous year.

"The economy has picked up, but a lot of people who have gotten jobs are working jobs that (pay) low wages," says Kim Brabits, the organization's vice president of program operations. "Although they're no longer unemployed, they're still (sometimes) living below 200 percent of the poverty level."

Andy Marso/KHI News

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday convened a new Governor’s Social Services Policy Council for the first time Wednesday in the luxury suites area at Sporting Park, the Kansas City, Kansas, home of the Sporting Kansas City soccer team.

At the end of the hourlong meeting, the council decided to focus on obtaining data about criminal recidivism and the breakdown of the family structure.

Salvation Army USA West / Flickr-CC

The Salvation Army's Olathe food pantry is facing a severe food shortage due to rising demand.

Since 2012, demand for food has climbed 72 percent at the Olathe location. Officials say that it could be because of a sharp rise in poverty levels in Johnson County, Kansas since 2000. 

Class issues can be all over the headlines, even when the word 'class' never appears. So says Kansas writer Sarah Smarsh. A quick breakdown of recent headlines through the lens of class in Kansas.

Guest:

United Community Services of Johnson County

Johnson County social service providers should target more services to residents who don’t have children, including low-income couples and at-risk young adults, according to a nonprofit that supports social service agencies in the county.

At its annual Human Service Summit Tuesday, officials of United Community Services of Johnson County (UCS) said public assistance programs such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families skew towards families with young children.

Eleanor Klibanoff / KCUR

After years spent battling landlords and management, residents of a Kansas City, Kansas public housing complex await promised vouchers for housing of their choice. What will happen when, and if, they get off that steep hill?

Pawel Loj/Flickr -- CC

What do you do when you're not making enough money to really make ends meet — but you're making too much to qualify for assistance? We invite the director of programs at Amethyst Place to discuss her perspective on this earnings gap and how it affects Kansas and Missouri residents.

Guest:

Eleanor Klibanoff / KCUR

Terrie Van Zandt-Travis had only been a preschool teacher for three weeks when one of her more challenging students scampered away right after lunch. She looked around the classroom, and what she saw stopped her in her tracks. 

"He was face down in the trash can," she said. "We had peaches that day and there was a peach between every single finger. He was pulling them out of the trash can and jamming them into his pants."

She says she'll never forget this 4-year-old's face when he told her, "I'm taking food home for me and my brothers." 

www.woodsoncounty.net

A cluster of counties in southeast Kansas are among the least healthy in the state, according to new rankings released Wednesday.

Four of the five state’s unhealthiest counties — Woodson, Cherokee, Greenwood and Labette — are in southeast Kansas. Several other counties in the region rank among the bottom 10.

But the director of an initiative launched in 2011 to address the underlying causes of the region’s health and economic problems said progress is being made.

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