Tough choices: The cost of poverty

How often do your kids open the refrigerator and say, “Mom, we don’t have anything to eat”? For many of us, the next step is looking at a takeout menu or calling for pizza.

Or do you ever have days when you open your closet and think, “I don’t have anything to wear”? Then you sigh and say, “Well, I guess I can wear the red shirt today if I must.”

These are the kinds of choices we take for granted when our refrigerators are full and our closets are overflowing.

But for those living in poverty, the choice isn’t so simple.

Here’s a startling fact from the United States Department of Agriculture: “In the USA, 30% to 40% of the food supply is wasted, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month.” That means, in an average four-person household, we’re throwing away the equivalent of eight 10-pound bags of rice EACH month.

Up to 40%

of the food supply is wasted in the USA

If you have $20, how do you spend it? For many, the choice comes down to deciding between food and other necessities. We’ve taken a look at the cost of many typical items around the world. The staples that many of us take for granted are luxuries to others. It might take two days’ income to buy a pair of jeans in Honduras or a week’s income to buy a pair of running shoes in Ecuador.

Facts about poverty

All prices came from Numbeo, except shampoo, toilet paper and toothpaste, which are from Expatistan. Data accessed February 2016.

Of course, most of our families are not buying name-brand items. Instead, they shop at secondhand stores or local markets to save money for the essentials.

Discover more facts about poverty. They might surprise you!

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