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Coming up on Connections: Monday, May 29, 2023

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First hour: Special programming - "Living on the Edge: Voices of Poverty in America"

Second hour: Special programming - A look at food, family, and what it means to be American

We bring you special national programming today.

In our first hour, more than a third of Americans lack sufficient savings to handle a $400 emergency. In this public radio documentary, we consider the plight of tens of millions living on the edge of poverty in the United States. They may be among your family members or neighbors.
Many of us hold misconceptions about who is struggling to get by on low income, and whether the social safety net — intended to safeguard people who fall on hard times — is actually adequate. We visit food pantries to discuss these conditions with patrons who line up for a limited supply of groceries — among them young mothers, older adults, the working poor and people with disabilities. The number of people using these services has noticeably increased as the Covid-19 crisis has tapered off. At the same time, emergency benefits for many families have been scaled back. You’ll hear from Mark Rank, author of The Poverty Paradox and professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis; Kisha Davis, M.D., the health officer for Montgomery County, Maryland; members of the Poor People’s Campaign, who testified before Congress, including Rev. William Barber II; and brief excerpts from powerful movies dramatizing this theme. And we listen back to how government aid to low-income Americans has been politicized from the enactment of Social Security in 1935 to the debate over newer protections in the Affordable Care Act.

Then in our second hour, in this special from from Things That Go Boom, Inkstick Media, and PRX, two stories about food, family, and the choices our government makes in our name. This time of year, with the flags and bunting and flipping burgers on the grill, it tends to get us thinking about what exactly it means to be American. There are a lot of answers to that question. But one we don’t often explore has to do with those burgers, or pad thai… whatever you might find on your plate… and what those things have to do with our national security. The U.S. Secret War turned many Southeast Asians into refugees. Now their kids are keeping that story alive. But first, we'll meet one of the one-in-four military families dealing with hunger, even as they serve our country.

Megan Mack is the executive producer of "Connections with Evan Dawson" and live/televised engagement programming.