Overburdened suburban schools are seeing the number of students receiving free or reduced lunch grow faster than in big cities.
The biggest challenge, however, may be in the antiquated response to the problem. Suburban communities are often focused too narrowly on the issues within their own borders, and are slow to take up a unified approach to a solution.
“We need to get out of our silos,” said Jackie Giordano of the North Shore CDC.
Combatting suburban poverty on the North Shore requires a regional approach, with local agencies sharing innovative ideas, collaborating whenever possible and working together to convince the federal government to shift at least some money to the suburban cities many of us call home.
The effort also requires a commitment to use data in problem-solving, both to identify the areas of greatest need — and greatest potential for change — and to make sure resources are allocated properly and money is being spent properly.
As many of the attendees at last week’s forum pointed out, lasting solutions also involve listening — thinking of those suffering the effects of poverty as partners in problem solving, rather than clients.
If, as many said, part of the problem is a lack of collective effort, last week’s forum was a good start, setting a path toward a regional solution.