10/30/2012 03:14 pm ET Updated Dec 30, 2012

Poverty in America

Recently Half in Ten, an organization dedicated to the goal of halving poverty over 10 years, launched a Twitter campaign with hash tag #TalkPoverty in hopes of finally having issues pertaining to poverty addressed by our presidential candidates. The mass appeal of the campaign has certainly gained headway on Twitter and helped to bring to the forefront some startling data on the United States as it pertains to the vast number of citizens experiencing poverty.

At this time, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau report, there are more than 46 million Americans living in poverty ($23,050 annual income for a family of four), with millions more living at only 150% ( which is a family of four living on $34,575 a year ) of the poverty threshold. The methodology for calculating poverty in the U.S. is often criticized on the basis that the measure is outdated and results in too few people being counted. U.S. poverty data is based on a model from the early 1960's that used U.S. Department of Agriculture data on food budgets and proportion of income spent on food to calculate poverty. This model doesn't include significant expenditures of income such as housing, education and other measures of economic stress.

With regard to our nation's children and youth, the United States of America, one of the wealthiest nations in the world, has the second highest child poverty rate of all developed nations, according to UNICEF. Only Romania has a higher percentage of youth in poverty. The United States has a staggering 22 percent of its children living in poverty. This is the future of our nation that will be faced with such challenges as lack of affordable housing, health care and education, as well as the psychological and physiological effects of being raised in poverty. In all probability, this will manifest toward perpetuating generational poverty.

The state of youth poverty in this nation is nothing short of a crisis. More than one-fifth of our youth and children are living in poverty. It is an issue that needs to be addressed on a bipartisan level in a nation where political polarization has never been more prevalent. It is time to stop pointing fingers at our citizens as being the sole cause of poverty and start adopting systems-based, solution focused policies. We cannot focus our attention predominantly on issues related to foreign policy and strengthening our economy at the middle class level alone. These millions of Americans are a significant representation of the future of this nation. If we cannot address poverty head on, ignoring the issue will only serve as a function that further inhibits these youth. This will systematically prevent these youth from reaching their, and our nation's, true potential.

It may be challenging to face the reality that so many Americans struggle just to get by. At least let there be discourse on our nation's biggest stage, by our presidential candidates. It is critical that each of you show us how you plan to eliminate, and bring the millions of Americans out of poverty. Working toward eliminating poverty is necessary toward the social, psychological and economic wellbeing of the United States. We need to strategically approach inclusive strategies that will allow for all Americans to thrive -- particularly those living in poverty. Treat the issue, not the symptoms. As a correspondent recently states on a HuffPost Live segment, "Poverty creates more poverty." It is time to take a stand.