Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Germanna Community College to be site for statewide electronic “Act on Poverty” Town Hall Saturday, July 18 at GCC’s Fredericksburg Campus


Germanna Community College to be site for statewide electronic “Act on Poverty” Town Hall Saturday, July 18 at GCC’s Fredericksburg Campus Germanna Community College will be one of the hosts of a statewide town hall discussion on poverty in Virginia from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday July 18, providing an unprecedented opportunity for local citizens, groups and organizations to pitch ideas for reducing poverty in their localities and statewide.

Participants are encouraged to recommend specific strategies for the Commonwealth’s Poverty Reduction Taskforce and local and state officials to consider. GCC will host the area’s Act on Poverty conversation at its Fredericksburg Campus off U.S. 17 near Cosner’s Corner in Spotsylvania while other Virginia Community College System campuses host talks in their regions of the state.

Latoyia Jones, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent for Virginia Cooperative Extension assigned Planning District 16, which includes the counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania, Stafford and the city of Fredericksburg, noted that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 37.3 million Americans, including 18 million children under the age of 18, live in poverty. In Planning District 16, Jones says, it’s reported that over 18,000 Fredericksburg-area residents live in poverty. “Many more have incomes above the poverty line, but their incomes are still low enough to qualify for programs like Food Stamps and Medicaid,” Jones said. “The recent economic downturn has seen unemployment rates rise and the use of emergency food pantries increase.”

Living in poverty can have negative impacts at any age, including poor nutrition during infancy, increased risk for academic failure in school age children, poor overall health in adults, and decreased access to prescription medication for seniors.

Gov. Tim Kaine will speak to participants at each site via YouTube prior to the beginning of the discussion, then suggestions. The statewide town halls will then result in the compilation of a formal list of recommendations for reducing poverty in Virginia, with suggested action steps for local and state implementation. The plan will be presented to this administration and the next, with advance consideration by Virginia's gubernatorial candidates.

In a recent address to state officials, bankers, nonprofit leaders and legislators at a "Rethinking Poverty: Exploring Economic Opportunity for All Virginians" gathering at the Omni Hotel in Richmond, Gov. Kaine said: "There are tough times out there facing Virginians through no fault of their own. It means we have to rethink the way we do business.”

Current data show approximately 739,000 people, nearly 10 per cent of all Virginians, live below the federal poverty line, including 232,600, or 12 per cent, of Virginia’s children.

As of 2007, the federal poverty line was $10,210 in annual income for an individual or $20,650 for a family of four. While Virginia’s statewide poverty rates are among the 10 lowest in the nation, certain regions are affected much more dramatically than others, with Southwest and Southside Virginia each having rates over 17 percent.
The governor called current federal guidelines that set the poverty line at $20,650 for a family of four "outdated".

The event, to be held in GCC’s Sealy Auditorium, is free and open to the public. No advance registration is required. For directions, go to

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