Hundreds Gather For Missouri Poverty Summit

(Jefferson City, MO) -- Nearly one in five Missourians lives in poverty, and that figure may be getting worse. 

 With that in mind, more than 400 representatives of more than 30 organizations representing the public and private sector gathered in Jefferson City Tuesday to discuss how to focus on fighting poverty and its effects. 

The occasion was the Poverty Summit sponsored by a coalition calling itself Missourians to End Poverty.

The group participated in workshops to discuss ideas of how to address housing, hunger, education, health energy and family and economic security in their communities.

Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder told the group that 926,000 Missourians live in poverty, the 15th highest rate in the country. He says that figure comes from 2009 and with a lackluster recovery from the recession, those numbers have likely gone up in the state.

He praised the group for being able to think "outside the box" in its reactions to the problems brought on by poverty.

Former state lawmaker Pat Dougherty of the St. Louis Archdiocesan office says groups in all segments of society are going to have to work together to end poverty and its effects.

"It is business, it is individuals, it is charities, it is foundations, it's not for profits, it's churches, it's governments. We're all part of this human family. We all have a part to play."

Elaine West, executive director of the Missouri Association for Community Action Incorporated said Tuesday's summit acted as a learning experience for people in the field.

"These are people who are involved in their communities and they come here and they talk about what has worked and what hasn't, and hopefully the good ideas can spread all around the state," said West.

West said Missourians Against Poverty and local community action agencies survive and trhive on local volunteers. She said anyone interested in volunteering can reach their nearest community action agency by going to the website.

(Dick Aldrich, Missouri News Horizon)

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