By DAN MASKIN, President, OFO
As it does annually, the New York State Community Action Association has just published “Poverty in NY,” which has a poverty report for each county and city in New York State.
Otsego County has a poverty rate of 16.1 percent, meaning roughly one out of six people are living in poverty. Forty-eight percent of school children are enrolled in either the free or
reduced school meals program.
There are two distinctions at play here. The overall poverty rate is classified as 100 percent of poverty. This is a calculation of what the lowest income needs to be in order to be classified as poor by the federal government. So a family of four earning $24,000 or less is considered living in poverty.
These numbers are actually quite high when you factor in that the City of Oneonta’s poverty rate is 25.6 percent.
But here’s the thing. The income eligibility for free school meals is $32,000 for a family of four and $46,000 for a family of four for reduced school meals. When we talk about poverty, the numbers almost double if you factor in eligibility beyond the classified poverty rate.
The report also breaks down poverty in terms of education, employment, and health. It’s worth a look if you get a chance. And a reminder of the work ahead for all of us.
Dan Maskin is president of Opportunities for Otsego.
Dan Maskin is president of Opportunities for Otsego, the poverty-fighting agency based in Oneonta but serving all Otsego County.