Basic Needs

Basic Needs

Being able to meet basic needs like safe housing, adequate food, and healthcare enables individuals and families to move from day-to-day existence toward the capacity to look to the future. Such a future could hold a steady job, a place to call their own – less time spent on the almost impossible decisions of a warm coat for a child, filling a prescription, something nutritious for supper.

In our community, the percentage of people in poverty fluctuated in Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham Counties between 2008 and 2011. By the end of 2012, the percentage in each county respectively was 10.3%, 10.1% and 25.5%.  Ingham County’s poverty rate was significantly above the state average of 17.4%. The child poverty rate was higher for each county respectively 12.1%, 15.2%, and 29.7%.  Ingham County’s child poverty rate was also significantly above the state average of 24.7%. One of the most alarming local statistics is the increase of homeless children.

A report issued in 2012 noted that there were1.8 million (19%) food insecure Michiganders. More than 500,000 children (24.8%) were children.  Food insecurity refers to USDA’s measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for active, healthy life for all household members, and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods.

Capital Area United Way has traditionally recognized community programs that set and achieve goals to help the neediest residents. Donors who direct their gifts to United Way may select the Basic Needs action area to provide vital basic services including:

  • Providing access to short-term essential needs
  • Making short-term health and dental care available to at-risk people

Choosing to receive the United Way eNews will keep donors informed on funded programs which provide the necessary safety net in the tri-county to offer safe shelter, food, warm clothing, dental and medical help, prescription assistance, and other of the most basic services.


Community Data:

  • 1 in 4 children live in poverty in urban areas of the tri-county.
  • The average homeless child in the tri-county is 7.5 years old.
  • Poor nutrition affects children physically; they can’t function well in school and are more likely to be aggressive at home and in the classroom.
  • 444 people are homeless on any given night in Lansing.
  • Beyond the federal definition of ‘poverty,’ families with income less than double the poverty rate struggle to meet basic needs.
  • 13% of people in the tri-county don’t have access to medical care – over 14% don’t have access to dental care.
  • 1 in 6 children is at risk of hunger.
  • 1in 8 households struggle to put food on the table.
  • 1 in 10 people uses emergency food programs.
  • 1 in 4 public school children receives free lunch—the only meal of the day for many of these low-income children.
  • Roughly half of all k-12 students were eligible for free or reduced price school lunches in 2012.
  • Some working parents skip meals in order to better feed their children.
  • In 2012 in the tri-county community, there were 65,860 people experiencing food insecurity.