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Zweifel welcomes leaders to poverty summit


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Poverty Summit was held Wednesday at the Capitol Plaza, attracting statewide office holders, educators, and community leaders.

The event strove to gather organizations and individuals to learn and address best practices and strategies to help alleviate poverty.

State Treasurer Clint Zweifel welcomed the attendees, while USDA State Director of Rural Development Janie Dunning and Jennings School District Superintendent Dr. Tiffany Anderson spoke. A panel comprised of Springfield City Manager Greg Burris, Columbia City Manager Mike Matthes, and Chamois residents Steve Duncan and Susan Sudermeyers discussed the impacts of poverty on communities.

The summit also hosted many exhibitors, including the Missouri Public Service Commission.

Summits, planned by the nonpartisan Missourians to End Poverty, have been held in 2009, 2011, and 2013. The planning group is made up of residents, businesses, organizations and government agencies.

“This year’s summit is particularly important,” Charles Smith, president of the Missouri National Education Association, said. “Though Missouri’s poverty rate has decreased slightly, we’ve seen an overall 21.5 percent increase in poverty during the past ten years. Poverty should not fall off Missouri’s radar.”

  • More than 908,000 Missourians live in poverty, according to the coalition’s recent State of the State:
    • Poverty in Missouri publication. Missouri also ranks the seventh in the nation for food insecurity.
    • Additionally, 77 of the 114 counties and the City of St. Louis have free and reduced lunch student
      participation rates higher than 50 percent, a circumstance which is shown to have a negative impact on
      students’ math and reading scores.

Attendees live tweeted the event with the hashtag #MOPovertySummit, sharing photos and quotes.