For the past 30 years the percentage of individuals living in poverty in Utah has remained below the national average. However, there are several counties inside the state of Utah with poverty rates well above the national average including: Iron, Piute, San Juan, and Sanpete counties.
The most recent census report showed that in 2009, 11.7 percent of Utah residents were considered living in poverty, accounting for more than 300,000 individuals. It was also determined that 12.2 percent of all children living in Utah live in poverty.
Although poverty is often defined by income level, poverty is not based on financial circumstances alone. People live in poverty because of a lack of resources, money being one of them. These resources may include: emotional and physical health, mental abilities and acquired skills, support systems, coping strategies and relationships. An individual’s ability to overcome poverty is often based on the presence or absence of these resources.
It is important to differentiate between poverty and the symptoms of poverty. For instance, hunger is a symptom of poverty, a result of the lack of proper resources. Other symptoms of poverty may include: poor nutrition, homelessness, unemployment, etc.
Community Action Services and Food Bank helps individuals overcome poverty by providing the resources individuals living in poverty lack to achieve self-reliance and financial stability, while meeting the immediate symptoms of poverty. For example, food orders from the food pantry and rental assistance address symptoms. Programs such as Family Development and the Circles Initiative help individuals address poverty at its core. These programs when offered separate cannot end poverty, but when combined, they provide a valuable tool in helping individuals become self-reliant.