It isn't that poor moms and dads aren't willing to work -- it's that the economy offers them so few opportunities to prosper from hard work and that safety net programs are inadequate to supplement low wages or provide for those who cannot work.
The economic costs of people going hungry are well-documented -- hunger costs our nation at least $167.5 billion per year because of lost economic productivity, poor education outcomes and unnecessary health care costs. But hunger is more than an economic issue; it's a moral concern.
Programs like Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, food stamps, and transitional housing are lifelines that work when people fall on hard times. We need to preserve them. But that's not what the Ryan "reconciliation budget" just passed by the House of Representatives would do.
As bleak as the poverty figures appear, the Census Bureau's numbers likely underestimate the depth and scale of the problem.
Given the scale of the problem facing us, we must address the structural issues that frustrate our efforts to help poor Americans.