Persistent Poverty in the South Project

Current Research

Persistent Poverty Projects in Robeson County, North Carolina- Dr. E. Brooke Kelly - University of North Carolina Pembroke

  • In Robeson County, North Carolina, a persistently poor and racial and ethnically diverse rural county, Dr. Brooke Kelly and Rev. Mac Legerton are working with UNC-Pembroke students to begin a needs assessment of the county. As part of a sociology class on poverty during the fall 2015 semester, students collected existing poverty-related statistics to create demographic profiles of the county and several of the highest poverty rural census tracts. They went on a site visit of Red Springs, one of those higher poverty census tracts, and spoke with local community members. Students presented the county and two of the census tract demographic profile reports to county board members and town councils. Sandra Torres, a teaching assistant for the class, will join Dr. Kelly to present findings from this class project as part of a session on the persistent poverty in the South project at the 2016 SSS meetings in Atlanta. Another UNC-Pembroke student, Sonya Hunt, will also present initial findings from her honors thesis project at the same persistent poverty in the South session. She is interviewing current and prospective summer feeding site hosts in Robeson County as a means to assess needs in the program and potentially increase sites at which children who qualify for free and reduced lunches can gain access to summer food programs.

The Mississippi Food Insecurity Project - Dr. Leslie Hossfeld - Mississippi State University

  • The Mississippi Food Insecurity Project (MFIP at began in August 2015 to document and examine food access and food insecurity in the state of Mississippi.

    The USDA defines food securityas access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life (USDA-ERS).Food insecurity, then, is understood as a lack of accessto enough food at to be healthy and active (USDA-ERS). Food insecurity is of particular importance to Mississippi, whose food insecurity rate is 22 percent, the highest in the nation, well above the US average of 14 percent (USDA-ERS 2015).

    The Mississippi Food Insecurity Project (MFIP) provides current USDA food insecurity data for all 82 counties in Mississippi, along with related socio-economic variables, food assistance data, local food activities, food store availability, and health data. In addition, MFIP will provide research briefs, policy initiatives, and qualitative and quantitative research reports that document and examine food insecurity from the perspective of service providers and food insecure residents throughout the state.

Spatial Inequality, Workplace Inequality, and Participation in County Welfare-to-Work Programs - Dr. Tiffany Taylor - Kent State University

  • Currently, her research team (with Brianna Turgeon and Kasey Lansberry) is compiling county-level quantitative data in several states (NC, OH, and soon MS) to contextualize and analyze the relationships between workplace inequality, poverty, and welfare-to-work program participation. Eventually the team will use this data to explore the relationships between other forms of spatial inequality. The team's work with the Persistent Poverty in the South Project will include, at least, providing quantitative data compilation and analysis expertise to local collaborative teams.