Census data shows poverty on the rise - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Census data shows poverty on the rise

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) -

Census data shows nearly one in six people lives in poverty across in the Heartland. That's a 27 year high. It's a high that has forced more people to ask for help in southern Illinois.

Sidney McKennie finishes cleaning dishes used to make lunch. McKennie says he likes to stay busy and help out, while he works to get his life back on track.

"This is where we sleep," McKennie said.

McKennie lives in a room at the Good Samaritan House in Carbondale. He shares it with three other men. Health problems originally lead McKennie to lose his job and place to live.  It also forced him to look for other types of employment, which he says is not easy find.  

"It is hard because there are so many people out here wanting a job, so many people and you don't realize the fact how many people want a job until you are out of a job and you're trying to get a job," McKennie said.  

In the last three years the number of people in poverty jumped to more than 46 million. The reality of that jump, is seen at the Good Samaritan Soup Kitchen come lunch and dinner time.

"I'm serving anywhere between 50 and 68 you know per meal so it has increased drastically," Savannah Gallon Johnson, Lead Cook at the Good Samaritan Soup Kitchen said.   

But as the need goes up, places like the Good Samaritan House, face a loss of both state and federal dollars.

"You can't meet payroll, you can't pay utility bills, it's extremely difficult and if it comes to that we might have to lose a program," Executive Director Mike Heath said.  

Heath says that means people like McKennie would  no longer have a place stay, along with others on the wait list.

Back at the soup kitchen, McKennie continues to help feed lunch to others who are also struggling. McKennie says he plans to have his own place in the coming weeks and hopes to never have to the Good Samaritan House again.

"I'll come here to volunteer but I don't want to come back to live," McKennie said.

Things are not any easier for the young.  Another report out finds the rate of poverty among children has increased nearly 20-percent over the past decade.

Copyright 2011 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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