BATON ROUGE, LA (FOX44) -- A new report ranks Baton Rouge as one of the poorest cities in the country. In fact, the metro area ranks number eleven in the nation. The concentrated poverty rate has increased nearly 14 percent over the last decade.
Baton Rouge resident Michael Acaldo says the statistics do not surprise him. That’s because he’s worked with the Saint Vincent de Paul Society for twenty-two years. He knows personally how many people in the Baton Rouge metro area simply can't make ends meet.
“Meals do not lie,” Acaldo says. “And the number of people coming to you hungry and desperate has increased in our community.”
Acaldo explains that there are two basic types of poverty. The first is situational poverty, which is impacted by the economy, or other circumstances. The second is generational poverty, which is what he sees as the main factor in the study and included people who grew up poor, not having the opportunity to learn a different way of life.
“In 2001 we were serving about 100,000 meals, just barely 100,000,” Acaldo recalls. “Last year we served 218,000 meals.”
Acaldo adds that this is not because of Hurricane Katrina.
It's actual people who are living in poverty in Baton Rouge.
“We've seen a lot of growth in the demand for our services - and that's very unfortunate,” he says.
Acaldo believes the poverty rate will continue to grow until everyone in the metro area steps up to fight the problem.
“Our school system, our community as a whole - we need to provide those opportunities so people in need get the training they need - so they're not dependent on charities or the government.”
It's breaking dependence that'll be the hard part, and Acaldo says he's working every day to give hand-up's not hand-out's.
“Break that cycle of poverty, once and for all.”