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Pandemic’s lesson: Help for the working poor pays off | READER COMMENTARY

Volunteers L-R Paul Bell, Izzy Hettleman, Julie Hettleman, Jenn Steinhardt and Lee Ann Reich, help load food into cars at the Baltimore Hunger Project. Lynne B. Kahn started the Baltimore Hunger Project five years ago to help eliminate weekend child hunger. The program serves 690 kids in 24 schools throughout Baltimore County and Baltimore City. March 13, 2020. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun)
Volunteers L-R Paul Bell, Izzy Hettleman, Julie Hettleman, Jenn Steinhardt and Lee Ann Reich, help load food into cars at the Baltimore Hunger Project. Lynne B. Kahn started the Baltimore Hunger Project five years ago to help eliminate weekend child hunger. The program serves 690 kids in 24 schools throughout Baltimore County and Baltimore City. March 13, 2020. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun) (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun)

I applaud Dan Rodricks’ recent column, “Joe Biden to the rescue, and it’s low-income families first. The rich will be fine” (March 16). ALICE households (asset limited, income constrained, employed), better known as “working poor” households are the backbone of our society, often providing essential services.

The pandemic has impacted all of us, but with significant disparities. Supporting ALICE households through the American Rescue Plan is a wise investment that will have an immediate and beneficial impact on the entire American economy as families pay off bills and invest in needed goods and services. The long-term, transformative impact of the plan comes from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit.

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Reducing childhood poverty for millions of American children, including thousands of Maryland children, will provide a better future, not only for children in low-income families, but for all Marylanders. Children who are well nourished, healthy and surrounded by caring and responsive adults who are not burdened by the daily demands of poverty can take full advantage of the first-class educational system offered by Maryland public schools. In addition to preparing children for the 21st century jobs that have overtaken the manual jobs of the past, education prepares children to be responsible community members.

The impact of poverty begins before birth for women who lack adequate nutrition and experience the stresses associated with food insecurity and other aspects of poverty. By strengthening nutrition programs, such as WIC and food stamps (SNAP: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), the American Rescue Plan provides support for pregnant women and children’s health and well-being. It is far easier to ensure that children are born healthy, rather than to undo the negative effects of poverty throughout life, and into the next generation. Investing in ALICE households and children provides an infrastructure that ensures that future generations are well prepared to support us all.

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Maureen Black, Baltimore

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